Iran warns US against attempts to halt oil shipments

Iran warns US against attempts to halt oil shipments
# 25 April 2019 15:01 (UTC +04:00)

Iran will continue to sell its oil, find buyers for it and ship it through the Strait of Hormuz, its foreign minister said Wednesday, ONA reports citing Anadolu agency.

Speaking at a panel discussion in New York City hosted by the Asia Society, Mohammad Javad Zarif said if the U.S. takes any "crazy measure" against Iran to prevent it from transporting its oil, it will have to be "prepared for the consequences".

"President [Donald] Trump believes that by pushing us, by imposing economic pressure on us, we will sell our dignity. Not gonna happen," Zarif said.

He said it is within Iran's "vital national interest" to keep both the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz open.

The Strait of Hormuz, a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, is a major channel for international oil shipments.

Zarif’s comments came after Washington announced Monday that it would be ending sanctions waivers it had granted to countries that were still buying Iranian oil.

The move, effective May 2, is part of Trump's 'maximum pressure' campaign to curb sales of Iranian oil, denying what Washington said was the country’s main source of revenue.

In a statement, the White House said both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have committed to increase their oil supply to ensure that global supply is maintained.

Zarif said the pressure campaign on Iran led by Washington has shown that the "B team wants regime change", referring to Trump ally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, a staunch critic of Iran's leadership, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and United Arab Emirates leader Mohammed bin Zayed.

Zarif said the U.S. should talk to those protecting the strait – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Washington had earlier this month designated the elite military force as a foreign terrorist organization.

- Prisoner Swap

However, Zarif also said there was room to cooperate in order to bring stability to both Afghanistan and Iraq.

"It's not a crisis yet. It's a dangerous situation," he said.

He specifically mentioned the potential of a prisoner swap, with Iran releasing British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

"Let's have an exchange. I'm ready to do it and I have the authority to do it," Zarif said.

Ratcliffe has been held in Iran since 2016 on espionage charges.

He proposed a prisoner swap between her and Iranians in jail abroad, including a woman being held in Australia for the past three years on a U.S. extradition request.

Zarif said the woman had given birth in prison.

He said there are other Iranians that have been imprisoned in the U.S. and Europe on what he considered phony charges.