United States navy on alert as Iran threatens to block Gulf oil route

08 July, 2018, 02:54 | Author: Regina Lloyd
  • GETTYPresident Hassan Rouhani warned Iran could soon halt exports of oil to neighbouring countries

VIENNA - Talks to save the 2015 nuclear deal on Friday are unlikely to satisfy Iran, European powers said, and Tehran warned that it could leave the accord if it was not fully compensated for the re-imposition of United States sanctions.

Beyond the European Investment Bank plan, other elements of the European economic package that Rohani criticized as insufficient include a special measure to shield EU companies from the USA sanctions and a proposal for EU governments to make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid US penalties.

As an original signatory to the deal, the United States - under then-President Barack Obama - also pledged to waive secondary American sanctions as long as Iran continues to abide by the agreement.

The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure free navigation and the flow of commerce, the U.S. military's Central Command said on Thursday, as Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned they would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if necessary.

He noted that he would inform Iranian officials on the Friday meeting and "most senior level" authorities would make the final decisions about the time and details of future steps.

The diplomats said they remained committed to the 2015 accord and to building up economic relations with Iran, including "the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas" and other energy products.

"These initiatives are aimed at preserving the nuclear deal which is in the security interest of all", said the joint statement read out by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. He added that the commission needs to develop ways keep commercial and economic ties between Iran and other parties to the agreement, which "would not depend on the USA whims".

He said the European powers but also Russian Federation and China were working on coming up with a financial mechanism to mitigate planned tough US sanctions.




She noted that such cooperation would be "through direct bilateral efforts and through engagement with worldwide partners in order to encourage them to follow the same policies and to establish similar mechanisms in their economic relations with Iran".

Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, warned the Trump administration to not "make any stupid move to halt Iran's oil export", vowing that if the US administration follows through with this threat, Iranian forces will shut down the Strait of Hormuz for all nations, a move that could cripple the regional flow of crude oil products.

"The US [officials'] statement in this regard is unilateralism...and a breach of all worldwide rules and regulations in energy and trade sectors", Rouhani said.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, from left, wait for the start of prior to a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 6, 2018.

The JCPOA is meant to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, but U.S. President Donald Trump in May said he was unilaterally pulling out because he felt it wasn't strong enough and didn't cover other issues of concern to the U.S. and its allies, such as Iran's military influence in the Middle East and a ballistic missile program.

In light of Washington's push on sanctions, European leaders have said they would do their utmost of maintain business ties with Iran but it would be hard for them to make any "guarantees".

"We advise businesses that want to keep investing (in Iran), we want to keep payment systems open, and we want to build security through widening the mandate of the European Investment Bank", he said.

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