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Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

President Trump's latest attacks against OPEC, delivered at the United Nations yesterday, arrive amid oil trading close to 4-year highs.

The big question: Will the White House move to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and perhaps even throw its support behind the (largely symbolic) "NOPEC" legislation that would go after OPEC with U.S. anti-trust laws?

Worth noting: Trump also said the U.S. is working with buyers of Iranian crude to cut purchases "substantially" as energy sanctions loom in early November.

  • That word could be important. His posture toward Iran was bellicose. But "substantially" could be a sign that the U.S. isn't bent on completely squeezing Iranian barrels out of the tight global market yet, according to Frank Verrastro of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The details: Trump's UN move came two days after OPEC and allied producers declined to commit to additional output hikes.

  • He bashed the cartel for "ripping off" the world and said, "we are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer."
  • "We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices," Trump said.
  • Later in the day, the State Department's energy feed on Twitter, not typically a rollicking platform for Trump, drew some attention in oil circles by signal-boosting his attacks.

What they're saying: Several analysts said Trump's OPEC remarks signal concern that looming U.S. sanctions on Iran — which are already putting upward pressure on prices — will create political problems ahead of the elections.

"Trump’s statement is more directly aimed at domestic audiences, creating a bogeyman he can point to during election season if gasoline prices rise to levels unacceptable to U.S. voters."
— Atlantic Council's Randy Bell writes

The big picture: "I think Trump used the speech on the world stage to voice his displeasure directly to those Gulf countries in a way that is likely even more impactful than one of his tweets," said Joe McMonigle of Hedgeye Risk Management.

"I expect that further messages are being passed to the leadership of these countries by U.S. officials this week."
— Joe McMonigle tells Axios

The intrigue: Verrastro said one thing to watch is how oil markets weigh Trump's intentions going forward.

  • He sees "countervailing" forces. On the one hand, there's the suggestion of paring back military support in that region that could put upward pressure on prices. On the other hand, there are hints of some wiggle room for Iranian crude buyers that could help lower prices.

Go deeper: Bloomberg has a detailed story about speculation that Trump will tap the SPR.

Go deeper

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.