LONDON - World oil prices rose Wednesday amid heightened tensions between the West and major crude producer Iran, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in March, gained 73 cents to $101.47 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for March delivery meanwhile rose 51 cents to $117.86 in midday London deals.

"Supply worries surrounding Iran... supported sentiment in the face of weak demand," analysts from Australia's Commonwealth Bank said in a commentary.

A senior Thai intelligence officer, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said Israeli diplomats were the target of a failed bomb plot by three Iranian suspects in Bangkok. "These three Iranian men are an assassination team and their targets were Israeli diplomats including the ambassador," the official said.

The explosions came a day after bombers targeted Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia, with a female diplomat seriously wounded in New Delhi, attacks that Israel said were orchestrated by Iran. Iran, which has already denied responsibility for the Delhi and Tbilisi incidents, said it had no link to the Bangkok blasts and blamed what it called "elements linked with the (Israeli) Zionist regime".

Separately, there are concerns about the United States after government data Tuesday showed retail sales in January were weaker than expected in the world's biggest oil-consuming nation.

The retail sales report came on the eve of Wednesday's official weekly reading on US energy stockpiles.