An Iranian armed forces commander has warned that Iran will stop oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if US President Donald Trump makes good on his pledge to cut Iranian oil imports.
Qassem Solaimani, commander of the Al Quds Force in the Revolutionary Guards, made the declaration after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran will stand firm against the US.
After meeting the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano, Rouhani said to state news agency Irna: “Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA. The responsibility for the change of Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation.”
“The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero…It shows they have not thought about its consequences.”
It is reported that Rouhani will disrupt oil shipments from neighbouring countries if Washington implements its goal of forcing all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.
While Rouhani did not say this explicitly, Iranian officials have previously threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation to hostile action from the US.
US withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Deal
Last May, Trump pulled out of the multinational Iran Nuclear Deal designed to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its own nuclear programme. The US Government has since told countries to halt Iranian oil imports from 4 November 2018 or face US punitive measures.
Rouhani added: “Iran will survive this round of US sanctions as it has survived them before. This US government will not stay in office forever…But history will judge other nations based on what they do today.
“If the remaining signatories can guarantee Iran’s benefits, Iran will remain in the nuclear deal without the United States.”
OPEC governor for Iran Hossein Kazempour Ardebili said to Iranian oil ministry news agency SHANA: “Trump’s demand that Iranian oil should not be bought, and (his) pressures on European firms at a time when Nigeria and Libya are in crisis, when Venezuela’s oil exports have fallen due to US sanctions, when Saudi’s domestic consumption has increased in summer, is nothing but self-harm.
“It will increase the prices of oil in the global markets. At the end, it is the American consumer who will pay the price for Mr. Trump’s policy.”
Member states of the European Union said they remain committed to keeping the Iran Nuclear Deal alive despite US pressure, but conceded that sanctions would make it difficult to guarantee Tehran that its oil and investments keep flowing. Foreign ministers will meet with Iranian officials in Vienna on Friday to discuss how best to proceed, and possibly try to avoid the Strait of Hormuz closure.