Iran's Rouhani hints at threat to neighbors' exports if oil sales halted

Lucy Bush
July 5, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran would remain in a landmark nuclear deal with world powers, despite the withdrawal of the United States - but only if other countries can "guarantee Iran's interests".

The withdrawal has paved the way for new U.S. sanctions against Tehran and foreign companies that trade or invest with it, causing several major businesses, including in Austria, to stop activity in the country.

"If you (Americans) can, do this and see its result", Rouhani was quoted as saying to a gathering of Iranians living in Switzerland.

"The responsibility for the change of Iran's cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation", he added.

Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action against Iran.

The Iranian president reiterated Tehran's position that it would remain committed to the JCPOA so long as the country can enjoy its "benefits". "It shows they have not thought about its consequences".

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On Tuesday, Rouhani hinted at a threat to disrupt oil shipments from neighbouring countries if Washington tries to cut its exports.

During a press conference at the State Department, Hook called on Iran to meet demands so it could be, what he termed, "normal country". The also pressing allies to cut out Iranian oil imports entirely by November 4.

Soleimani added that the Revolutionary Guard is prepared to implement such a policy if necessary.

Other signatory countries are now with Rouhani in Vienna to discuss how the deal can be maintained. Iran has asked the European countries to come up with a new economic package to offset the USA sanctions and preserve the accord.

The UAE, an American-allied federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, hosts some 5,000 US troops.

India is an oil-dependent country and will act what is in its national interests, they said.

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The sources said there was no doubt that the United States was going to put pressure on India and other countries which import oil from Iran, noting, "the question is what do we see as a national interest and how do we explain our case to the US".

And on Tuesday, the Austrian foreign ministry summoned the Iranian envoy to request that Tehran "lift the (diplomat's) immunity".

The sources said the United States was prepared to work with countries that are reducing their oil imports on a case-to-case basis.

"Our goal is to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue on crude oil sales", said Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook.

But so far it has proven hard to offset the impact of continued USA sanctions, with European firms reluctant to risk far-reaching US financial penalties to do business in Iran. Tehran said its foreign minister would meet counterparts from USA allies Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russian Federation and China, in Vienna on Friday to discuss ways of maintaining the nuclear deal.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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