Saudi adviser: Sanctions unlikely to stop Iran exports completely

A tug boat moves cargo towards the Strait of Hormuz, in Musandam province, Oman, July 20, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 29 August 2018
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Saudi adviser: Sanctions unlikely to stop Iran exports completely

  • If Iran closes Strait of Hormuz, the UN Security Council is likely to authorize military action

STAVAGNER, NORWAY: Current US sanctions on Iran are unlikely to stop Iranian oil exports completely, a long-time adviser at Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry said on Tuesday, adding Iran would be unable to close the straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab even partially.
Speaking at an oil conference in the Norwegian city of Stavanger, Ibrahim Al-Muhanna said Iran would be the first to lose out on a move to block those major shipping routes and that any such action would trigger further sanctions on Iran.
Iran has said if it cannot sell its oil due to US pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz.
“The amount of oil going through the Strait of Hormuz is so large. There’s more than 18 million barrels a day, about two-thirds of world maritime oil trade. Meaning, cutting oil from there will lead to an acute oil shortage and prices will skyrocket,” Muhanna said.
“Is Iran able or willing to close completely, or even partially, the Strait of Hormuz or Bab Al-Mandab, or both? The answer is no, and a really big no ... Current sanctions are unlikely to stop Iranian exports completely.”
He said if Iran closes Strait of Hormuz, the UN Security Council is likely to authorize military action.
Earlier on Monday, Iran went to the UN highest court in a bid to have US sanctions lifted, calling the US move "naked economic aggression."
Iran filed the case with the International Court of Justice in July, claiming that sanctions the Trump administration imposed on May 8 breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates economic and consular ties between the two countries.
At hearings at The Hague, Tehran asked judges at the world court to urgently suspend the sanctions to protect Iranian interests while the case challenging their legality is being heard — a process that can take years.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the legal move an attempt by Tehran "to interfere with the sovereign rights of the US to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 pact between Iran and major world powers under which sanctions were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program. The Trump administration then announced unilateral plans to restore sanctions against Tehran.


US sees Palestinian state on most of West Bank, some of East Jerusalem — Israeli TV

Updated 56 min 3 sec ago
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US sees Palestinian state on most of West Bank, some of East Jerusalem — Israeli TV

JERUSALEM: Israeli television said on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan would propose a Palestinian state on as much as 90 percent of the occupied West Bank, with a capital in East Jerusalem — but not including its holy sites.
The White House, which has kept details of the plan under wraps and said its release could still be months away, dismissed the report by Israel’s Reshet 13 TV as inaccurate speculation.
Citing what it said was a source briefed by the Americans, the television report said the plan would entail Israel annexing Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank while isolated settlements would either be evacuated or their construction halted.
Trump wants the proposed Israeli moves to be supplemented by territorial swaps with the Palestinians, and for East Jerusalem’s walled Old City — site of major Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines — to be under Israeli sovereignty but with the joint management of the Palestinians and Jordan, the report said.
It said “most Arab neighborhoods” in East Jerusalem would be under Palestinian sovereignty as a future capital.
Israel calls all of Jerusalem its “eternal and undivided capital,” a status not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, including the Al Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City, as capital of a future state.
The report made no mention of the fate of Palestinian refugees, another core dispute in the decades-old conflict, or of how the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas Islamists opposed to peace with Israel, might fit into the plan.
Israeli and Palestinian officials did not immediately respond to the Reshet 13 report.
Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, a main architect of the plan along with the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, said in a message on Twitter the report “is not accurate.” He did not specify, however, what in the report was incorrect.
“Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful Very few people on the planet know what is in it ... for now,” Greenblatt wrote. “Peddling false, distorted or biased stories to the media is irresponsible & harmful to the process.”
In separate remarks to reporters, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, predicted that the Trump plan would not be released before an Israeli election on April 9.
Opinion polls predict an easy win that would secure a fifth term for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a rightist whose US-sponsored peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stalled in 2014.
“From what we understand, it will not be presented before the election,” Danon said. “It’s a smart decision because we don’t want it to become the issue of the elections.”