Published On: Wed, Apr 24th, 2019

Iran’s Zarif warns U.S. of ‘consequences’ over oil sanctions, Strait of Hormuz

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FILE PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, in Baghdad
FILE PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily/File Photo

April 24, 2019

By Michelle Nichols and Lesley Wroughton

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Iran will continue to find buyers for its oil and use the Strait of Hormuz to transport it, the country’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday, warning that if the United States tries to stop Tehran, then it should “be prepared for the consequences.”

“We believe that Iran will continue to sell its oil. We will continue to find buyers for our oil and we will continue to use the Strait of Hormuz as a safe transit passage for the sale of our oil,” Zarif also told an event at the Asia Society in New York.

“If the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that, then it should be prepared for the consequences,” he said, without giving specifics.

The United States on Monday demanded buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.

Oil prices hit their highest level since November on Tuesday after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.

When asked if the U.S. pressure campaign on Tehran was aimed at sparking further negotiations or regime change, Zarif said: “The B team wants regime change at the very least.” He described the B Team as including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton.

“We’re allergic to pressure,” he said, adding in a message to the Trump administration: “Try the language of respect, it won’t kill you, believe me.”

Zarif also said that Iran had told the U.S. administration six months ago that it was open to a prisoner swap deal, but had not yet received a response.

“All these people that are in prison inside the United States … we believe their charges are phony. The United States believes the charges against these people in Iran are phony. Let’s not discuss that,” he said.

“Let’s have an exchange. I’m ready to do it and I have authority to do it,” Zarif said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)



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