Rouhani: If Iran can’t export oil from Gulf, nobody can
GENEVA/BRUSSELS — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made an apparent threat to disrupt other countries’ oil shipments through the Gulf if Washington presses ahead with efforts to halt Iranian oil exports.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran and US officials said they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero in a bid to curb the Islamic Republic’s missile program and regional influence.
“America should know that we are selling our oil and will continue to sell our oil and they are not able to stop our oil exports,” Rouhani said in a televised speech during a trip to the northern Iranian city of Shahroud.
“If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”
Rouhani made similar comments in July.
Also in July, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, Ismail Kowsari, was quoted as saying that Teheran would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the US banned Iranian oil sales.
Tensions have risen between Teheran and Washington after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear deal in May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Rouhani said the US would not succeed in cutting Iran’s economic ties with the region and the world.
“The most hostile group in America, with relation to Iran, has taken power,” Rouhani said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. “Of course they never had a friendship with the people of Iran and we never trusted America or others 100 percent.”
The US is also pressing the European Union to consider economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles, said Brian Hook, Washington’s special representative for Iran, on Tuesday.
“We would like to see the European Union pass sanctions that would designate the people and the organizations that are facilitating Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation,” he said.
The United Kingdom, France and Germany in March proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles, according to a confidential document seen by Reuters, but were rebuffed by other EU nations including Italy, which are seeking to develop business ties with the Islamic Republic.
Iranian Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri said on Tuesday that US sanctions were hitting vulnerable people in Iran.
“When (Americans) say their target is the Iranian government and there won’t be pressure on the sick, the elderly and the weak in society, it’s a lie,” Jahangiri said, according to IRNA.