Iran’s president warned his US counterpart Donald Trump not to threaten the Arabian Gulf nation’s oil exports and suggested it has alternatives to shipping crude through the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump is reimposing sanctions on Iran, which ships most of its oil through the Strait, in an effort to squelch the country’s oil sales. Hormuz, a shipping chokepoint at the mouth of the Gulf, is a conduit for tankers carrying about 30 per cent of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids. Other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq also export much of their crude through the Strait.
“No one who really understands politics would say they will block Iran’s oil exports, and we have many straits, the Strait of Hormuz is just one of those,” Hassan Rouhani said in a speech at a conference in Tehran on Sunday, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News agency reported. Rouhani didn’t elaborate on the other “straits” Iran might have available for its exports.
Iran and the European Union are working to salvage the 2015 accord that lifted sanctions on the country in exchange for concessions on its nuclear work. Trump withdrew from the international agreement and is restoring US sanctions. Rouhani made his comments a day after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that negotiating with the US would be useless.
“Mr Trump! We are the honest men who have throughout history guaranteed the safety of this region’s waterways,” Rouhani said. “Do not play with the lion’s tail, it will bring regret.”
Iran would halt oil shipments through the strait if the US stopped it from exporting, Esmail Kowsari, deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards base in Tehran, said earlier this month, according to the Young Journalists Club, which is affiliated with Iran’s national broadcaster.