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.


Army shelling kills seven in Syria’s Idlib, says monitor

Updated 28 min 8 sec ago
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Army shelling kills seven in Syria’s Idlib, says monitor

  • Two women and three children were among the seven civilians killed
  • Another 30 people were wounded

BEIRUT: Regime shelling killed seven civilians in Syria’s militant-controlled Idlib region on Thursday, in the latest violence to threaten a seven-month-old truce, a war monitor said.

Rocket fire targeted a village and an adjacent camp for the internally displaced in Idlib’s southeastern countryside, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Two women and three children were among the seven civilians killed, the monitor said.

Another 30 people were wounded, it said.

Regime ally Russia and rebel-backer Turkey in September inked a buffer zone deal to prevent a massive regime offensive on the Idlib region, near the Turkish border.

But the region of some 3 million people has come under increasing bombardment since former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham took full control of it in January.

The UN has expressed concern over escalating violence, warning that the flare-up is threatening aid deliveries to some 2.7 million people in need.

More than 86,500 people fled their homes in February and March as a result of the surge in violence, it said.

Iran, Russia and Turkey are set to discuss the Idlib deal during a fresh round of talks on April 25-26 in Kazakhstan.

Delegations from the Syrian regime and armed opposition groups are also expected to participate, according to the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif this week visited Damascus and met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The trio of foreign brokers have taken the diplomatic lead through the so-called “Astana process” that has largely sidelined UN diplomacy since its launch in January 2017.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since the conflict began with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.