Iran Threatens to Blockade Persian Gulf over Trump Sanctions

Asian economies grateful for reprieve on Iran oil imports
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Iran will ensure that “no oil” is exported from the Persian Gulf region if the United States moves ahead with restrictions on Iran’s oil industry, President Hassan Rouhani reportedly warned on Tuesday.

The comments came after the Islamic Republic boasted at the end of last month that it will export domestically designed and manufactured fighter jets and training aircraft despite sanctions imposed by the U.S. against the move.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration unleashed a wave of sanctions on Iran’s oil, banking, shipping, and other sectors, marking its “largest ever single day” of economic penalties against Tehran and fulfilling the American commander-in-chief’s campaign promise to take a harder line against the Islamic Republic, deemed the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism by the United States.

Trump administration officials did grant six-month waivers to eight countries, allowing them to continue buying oil from Iran: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has threatened to blockade the Persian Gulf if the United States suspends the waivers and tries to prevent Tehran from exporting its crude oil, claiming Washington will not be able to do so.

The regime-aligned Fars News Agency quoted Rouhani as saying on Tuesday:

We sell our oil and will sell it in future as well. The U.S. will not be able to prevent Iran’s oil exports, and it should know that no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf [region] if one day it decides to stop Iran’s oil [exports]. The U.S. is unable to cut our trade relations with the region and the world, and it should know that people across the Iranian territories will maintain their cultural, economic and political ties with the regional and world states in the best possible form.

Last month, the Iranian president argued the waivers are a testament to America’s incapability to stop Iran’s crude oil sales.

“What the Iranian officials said that the U.S. is not able to zero Iran’s oil exports was proved with the U.S. recent admission,” President Rouhani reportedly said, referring to the waivers granted to eight countries.

“The U.S. announced that it cannot zero Iran’s oil sales because the oil prices will rise to $150; this is what we had said [before]. In this region, either Iran’s oil is exported or others will be in trouble as well,” he added.

On November 5, the U.S. Treasury Department reimposed all sanctions lifted under the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Trump administration officials reinstated sanctions on 700 Iranian targets.

“The imposition of sanctions on Iranian individuals, banks and businesses, as well as ships and aircraft, included 300 new targets. In all, the US has designated 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries for sanctions,” the Financial Times (FT) explained.

“Today, the U.S. is executing on the final actions to withdraw [from] the Obama administration’s fatally flawed Iran deal,” Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared on November 5. “This is part of a maximum unprecedented economic pressure campaign that the US is waging against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”

In May, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.

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