Iran looks to keep its oil flowing as sanctions bite

Iran looks to keep its oil flowing as sanctions bite”

LONDON - Iran will respond firmly to any Israeli naval action against its oil shipments, Iran's defense minister said on Wednesday, in comments that came a week after Israel's prime minister said its navy could act against Iranian oil "smuggling" to evade U.S. sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced previous year that crippling sanctions would be re-imposed and the State Department said that it expects all foreign countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil to zero.

Following the last round of sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran this past November that further crippled its oil-based economy, the Islamic Republic resolved to "proudly bypass" them claiming they violated worldwide law after the United States chose to quit the 2016 JCPOA that stalled sanctions in exchange for Iran's curtailing its nuclear program.

According to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Islamic Republic resorted to clandestine measures to commercialize fuel.

The defence minister also noted that Israeli actions would be seen as "piracy" if the navy would act against Iran, according to the news agency IRNA.

Hatami interpreted Netanyahu's comments as a threat to engage in "international piracy" and vowed Iranian forces will "secure the security of shipping lines and global shipping lanes for ourselves and all those who are in our area of responsibility".

The two states share the same position on the Iran issue.

On Friday, the navy intervened to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

He claimed that Iran is trying to "covertly" ship fuel over maritime routes to "circumvent" the USA sanctions.

The US Navy's 5th Fleet is based in nearby Bahrain and over the years has had aircraft carrier groups patrol the seas off of Iran in a show of force.

"Zeroing out could prove difficult" one of the sources said, adding a price of around $65 a barrel for worldwide benchmark Brent crude was "the high end of Trump's crude price comfort zone".

A senior Iranian official told Reuters that "Plenty of countries are happy to do business with Iran", adding that there are several ways to cope with the shortage of tankers, including using tankers of other countries.

U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, described Iran's tanker sector as a "floating liability" in November. He also threatened to deploy the Israeli Navy to help tackle suspected Iranian efforts to smuggle out oil via maritime routes to skirt USA sanctions.

INU- Sources in Iran and across the West have said that Iran is trying to obtain second-hand oil tankers.

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