Iraq called ExxonMobil's decision to evacuate its staff from the oil-rich country 'unacceptable and unjustified' Sunday.
Iraq claims the American company withdrew all of their staff, some 60 people, days after the U.S. withdrew non-emergency staff members from its embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, apparently due to concerns over perceived threats from neighboring Iran.
'The temporary withdrawal of employees has nothing to do with security in southern Iraqi oil fields or any threats,' Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadban said.
'The reasons are political and probably linked to tensions in the region,' he added in a statement released by the oil ministry.
ExxonMobil has not confirmed the withdrawal.
The American company has a long-term contract to improve oilfields in the southern Iraqi province of Basra on behalf of Iraq's state-owned South Oil Company.
The chief of Iraq's state-owned South Oil Company, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, said the evacuation was 'a precautionary and temporary measure' and that there was 'no indication' of danger Saturday.
Heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. have fueled concerns of a potential conflict in the Middle East region.
The U.S. recently bolstered its military presence in the area and increased economic sanctions against Tehran, accusing it of threatening U.S. troops and the country's interests.