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.
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.