Iran threatens ‘consequences’ if US takes ‘crazy measure’ of blocking oil sales

At New York event, Foreign Minister Zarif vows Tehran will continue selling oil to countries and using the Strait of Hormuz to transport it

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the Asia Society in New York, April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the Asia Society in New York, April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday warned the United States of “consequences” if it prevents Tehran from selling oil, after Washington ended sanction exemptions over the Islamic Republic’s energy exports.

“We believe that Iran will continue to sell its oil,” Zarif said at an event at the Asia Society in New York, according to the Reuters news agency. “We will continue to find buyers for our oil and we will continue to use the Strait of Hormuz as a safe transit passage for the sale of our oil.

“If the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that then it should be prepared for the consequences,” he added. “[US President Donald Trump] thinks through further pressure on Iran — the so-called ‘maximum pressure policy’ — he can bring us to our knees. He’s mistaken.”

On Monday the US announced that, in a bid to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero, it would from May 2 end waivers that eight countries including India, China, South Korea and Turkey currently have on buying Iranian crude — waivers it had granted when it reimposed sanctions on Iran in November. They expire May 2.

The move targets the Islamic Republic’s main economic earner and adds to sanctions pressure that has built up under Trump, who has pulled his country out of a 2015 international deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. It will choke off more than $50 billion of annual Iranian income, which the US says the country uses to fund destabilizing activity in the Middle East and beyond.

Earlier Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic would be willing to negotiate with the US if it reverses economic sanctions and apologizes for its “illegal” actions.

“We have always been supporters of negotiation and diplomacy, the same way that we have always been a people of war and defense,” Rouhani was quoted as saying in state media.

He said that reports that Iran had rebuffed American offers to negotiate were untrue.

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