GENEVA: Iran has threatened to block the waterway in which oil exports are shipped on Tuesday, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterating that the United States will not be able to stop the country from exporting its oil and any move to prevent Iranian crude shipments passing through the Gulf.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran and US officials say they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero in a bid to curb the Islamic Republic’s missile program and regional influence.
“America should know that we are selling our oil and will continue to sell our oil and they are not able to stop our oil exports,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech during a trip to the northern Iranian city of Shahroud.
“If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf,” he said.
Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear deal in May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Rouhani said the United States would not succeed in cutting Iran’s economic ties with the region and the world.
Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri also said on Tuesday that US sanctions were hitting vulnerable people in Iran.
“When (Americans) say their target is the Iranian government and there won’t be pressure on the sick, the elderly and the weak in society, it’s a lie,” Jahangiri said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
A senior military official was quoted as saying on Tuesday that Iran wants to increase its missiles’ range, a move that would irk the US, which views Tehran’s weapons program as a regional security threat.
“One of our most important programs is increasing the range of missiles and ammunition,” said Iranian air force head, Brig. Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“We don’t see any limitations for ourselves in this field.” Iran’s military has cited 2,000 km as the current missile range, and said US bases in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, plus US aircraft carriers in the Gulf, were within range.
Nasirzadeh did not give details on how far Iran would like to increase that range, according to the Fars report.
Tehran insists its missile program is purely defensive but has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, if Washington tries to strangle its exports.