Iran threatens ‘less secure’ shipping lanes if US halts oil exports

Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero after it was seized last month. (AFP)
Updated 22 August 2019

Iran threatens ‘less secure’ shipping lanes if US halts oil exports

  • The ominous comments by the president and foreign minister come after months of attacks on vessels near the Strait of Hormuz
  • President Rouhani says unilateral pressure against Iran won't guarantee security

JEDDAH: Iran ramped up its threats against shipping on Wednesday, warning that international waterways can not be secure if the regime’s oil exports are halted by sanctions.

The ominous comments by the president and foreign minister come after months of attacks on vessels near the Strait of Hormuz, through which around one fifth of the world’s oil supplies are transported.

Iran has seized tankers and been blamed for sabotaging ships in response to tough sanctions from the US over the regime’s nuclear program and aggressive policies in the Middle East.

“World powers know that in the case that oil is completely sanctioned and Iran's oil exports are brought down to zero, international waterways can't have the same security as before,”  President Hassan Rouhani said while meeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “So unilateral pressure against Iran can't be to their advantage and won't guarantee their security in the region and the world.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif added to concern over Iran’s future behavior, by saying Tehran might act "unpredictably" in response to "unpredictable" US policies under President Donald Trump.

"Mutual unpredictability will lead to chaos," Zarif said.

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READ MORE: Stena Impero owner met Iran’s Zarif to urge release of UK-flagged ship

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The latest Iranian threats were “the desperate acts of a nation whose funding sources for regional destabilization are drying up,” the Iranian-American Harvard scholar Dr. Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.

“Domestic unrest has long lain beneath the surface as Iranians enduring a sluggish economy and falling living standards see billions go abroad to Tehran’s network of proxies,” he said.

Global commodity trading has been disrupted in recent months by a series of Iranian attacks on international merchant vessels and the seizure by Tehran of a British oil tanker, which the US has described as state piracy.

Washington, which has by far the strongest Western naval contingent in the Gulf, has been calling for its allies to join it in an operation to guard shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the world’s oil industry.

Britain and Bahrain have signed up to the US-led security mission. They were joined on  Wednesday by Australia, which will contribute troops, a surveillance plane and a frigate to protect shipping lanes.

 

*With Reuters


Lebanon tribunal charges Hariri suspect over three other attacks

Updated 27 min 5 sec ago

Lebanon tribunal charges Hariri suspect over three other attacks

  • Ayyash faced five new charges relating to the killings of three men in 2004 and 2005
  • The tribunal in The Hague was established in 2009 to prosecute crimes related to the Feb. 14 2005 bombing that killed 22 people

THE HAGUE: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Monday unsealed an indictment on new charges against Salim Jamil Ayyash, currently a fugitive from the court and on trial in absentia.
The court said in a statement that Ayyash faced five new charges relating to the killings of three men in 2004 and 2005.
The tribunal in The Hague was established in 2009 to prosecute crimes related to the Feb. 14 2005 bombing that killed 22 people, including Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri, and injured many others.
Ayyash, whose whereabouts are unknown, is being defended on charges of "conspiracy to commit terrorism" in the Hariri case by a publicly appointed defence lawyer. Prosecutors say Ayyash is a Hezbollah commander who led coordination of Hariri's assassination.
The court said on Monday that Ayyash would be presumed innocent of the new charges, but that there is enough evidence against him to merit a trial. The court sent new warrants for his arrest to the Lebanese government and international police organisations.