World oil prices are overvalued and "not realistic" because the market is being manipulated, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
"The market should be free and these commodities should compete in a free setting," Ahmadinejad told NBC's Brian Williams in a taped interview in Tehran. "At the moment, the situation is not realistic."
Watch the Iranian President's Interview with NBC
Oil has fallen over $23 from a record high of $147.27 on July 11, pressured by signs that record-high prices and slowing economies are curbing demand.
Dealers said prices could still head lower for now.
"We now seem to be in the situation where every rally is being sold," said Glen Ward, joint head of commodities at ODL Securities in London. "We feel that the trading community is not just liquidating long positions but also looking to establish shorts."
Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Friday showed that speculative oil funds were shifting to a net short position -- a bet on falling prices -- for the first time in 17 months.Oil prices were higher on Monday, with U.S. light, sweet crude moving above $124 a barrel. London Brent crudepage90GB@IB.1falsefalse43pricetruefalsefalsefalsefalse0QuotefalsetrueChartfalsetrueNewsfalsetrueProfilefalsetrueAdd to Watchlistfalsetruetruehttp://api-cdn.cnbc.com/api/chart/chart.aspGE4true3 was also higher.
Traders were also focusing on Ahmadinejad's statement on Saturday that Iran has more than 5,000 active centrifuges for enriching uranium, keeping Tehran's dispute with the West over its nuclear program in oil traders' focus.
Ahmadinejad's announcement was likely to annoy major powers which have offered Iran a package of economic and other incentives to persuade Tehran to suspend its enrichment activities.
--Reuters contributed to this report.