Oil rose towards $75 a barrel today, near its record high, after talks between OPEC producer Iran and the European Union on incentives to end a stand-off over Tehran's nuclear work were suddenly postponed.

A row between Iran and the West over Tehran's atomic ambitions helped drive prices to a record $75.35 in April as investors feared potential supply disruptions from the world's fourth biggest crude exporter.

US crude rose 97 cents to $74.90 a barrel. London Brent crude was up $1.36 at $73.87.

Oil also rose as geopolitical tension heightened after North Korea launched a series of missiles into the Japan Sea.

The missiles included a long-range one able to reach Alaska, although it apparently failed 40 seconds into its flight, US officials said.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had been due to meet Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani on Wednesday. They are now scheduled to meet in Brussels on Thursday and July 11.

Solana, surprised by Larijani's sudden postponement, made clear the West wants a quick answer on its incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

Lingering concern over Iran and still robust consumption in the United States and China, the world's biggest fuel burners, have put oil within striking distance of its earlier record.