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.
Washington ramped up an economic boycott of Iran after Trump last year withdrew from a deal between Tehran and international powers to curb its nuclear program in response to an easing of sanctions.
The sanctions have targeted critical sections of the Iranian economy, in particular its oil exports which have been drastically reduced.
But the attacks on shipping near and inside the Arabian Gulf have rattled the major crude importers, particularly in Asia.
In response, the US is building maritime coalition to protect vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz between the Arabian Sea and Gulf. The UK, Bahrain and Australia are among those who have signed up.
Iran, predictably, has already warned against the alliance. Iranian Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, a deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, said no one can secure the Gulf other than Iran and countries of the region, according to the Fars news agency.