Iran will respond firmly to any act against oil shipment: Hatami

Evarado Alatorre
Marcha 15, 2019

Iran responded on Wednesday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promise to prevent the Islamic Republic from circumventing sanctions on its oil trade, promising a "crushing response", IRNA news agency reported.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for Israeli Navy cadets last Wednesday, Netanyahu accused Iran of smuggling petroleum products to bypass US sanctions.

USA sanctions against Iran were reinstated a year ago after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which provided for the relief of economic sanctions against Tehran in return for Iran's pledge to keep its nuclear program peaceful.

On 6 March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the world community to stop Iran from shipping oil overseas.

Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA that Tehran had the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention, and said the global community would also not accept such action.

According to the Iranian Minister, in case of such an action by Tel Aviv we will consider it piracy and if this happens, we will respond with full force. Those sanctions have already halved Iranian oil exports.

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".

"Oil spills and accidents involving tankers are extremely costly".

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An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander also said on Wednesday that enemies will regret any confrontation with the Islamic Republic.

Renewed U.S. sanctions have also meant Iran has been unable to secure vital certification services from foreign providers to ensure its ships remain seaworthy, shipping officials said.

Data based on AIS tracking by shipping intelligence platform MarineTraffic showed 12 Iranian tankers, or more than a fifth of its fleet, were being used for floating storage in March.

"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 played down the threat to its oil exports because of pressure on its fleet.

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

While tracking Iran's oil exports has become an increasingly hard task after the US sanctions returned, some of the key Iranian oil customers that received USA waivers resumed buying Iran's oil in 2019 or increased imports to their respective ceiling allowed under the waivers, after an initial "wait-and-see mode" for November and December purchases amid uncertainties as to who was getting waivers.

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