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Iranian official calls for negotiations with Washington in Iraq


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US to Halt Iran Oil Waivers: Pompeo

 
 BasNews   22/04/2019 - 20:56  Published in Middle East
US to Halt Iran Oil Waivers: Pompeo
 

ERBIL - The United States will put an end to the Iran oil waivers soon in order to squeeze Tehran's exports to zero, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday, adding that all countries would face sanctions if refuse to abide by Washington's decision.

President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran Nuclear Deal last year and re-imposed a number of sanctions on the country, while granting waivers to certain countries.

"Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime means maximum pressure. That’s why the U.S. will not issue any exceptions to Iranian oil importers. The global oil market remains well-supplied. We’re confident it will remain stable as jurisdictions transition away from Iranian crude," Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

Trump is seeking an end to the waivers to exert "maximum economic pressure" on Tehran by bringing Iran's oil exports to zero, as cited by The Epoch Times.

Iraq is among the countries granted by the US to receive a waiver, while the country's gas and electricity is mainly imported from neighboring Iran.

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Iran threatened that about once a year during the last Iranian Friendly Administration in order to get what it wanted and it seemed to work very well then as obama and kerry would cave to their demands......

 

I think their mileage may be quite different with POTUS Trump running the show these days........They just may find all their ships blown to little piece.

 

Karsten

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Karsten said:

Iran threatened that about once a year during the last Iranian Friendly Administration in order to get what it wanted and it seemed to work very well then as obama and kerry would cave to their demands......

 

I think their mileage may be quite different with POTUS Trump running the show these days........They just may find all their ships blown to little piece.

 

Karsten

 

 

Yep, I agree..They will see who is carrying a big stick and ain't afraid to use it.

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Insanian rethoric as always to get benefits ..they are warned ¡¡¡¡  "Any attempt by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz will elicit a military response by the United States. American military commanders have REPETEADLY articulated their DETERMINATION to keep the waterway open to ensure “freedom of navigation” and the “free flow o (Reuters)....also Israel has some good news for those unhappy guys .." ###################Israel would deploy its military if Iran were to try to block the Bab al-Mandeb strait that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday. would deploy its military if Iran were to try to block the Bab al-Mandeb strait that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday. :)

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Flexing muscle....
The Associated Press | By Jon Gambrell

ABOARD THE USS JOHN C. STENNIS IN THE PERSIAN GULF — A U.S. aircraft carrier has sailed into the Persian Gulf, becoming the first since America's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and breaking the longest carrier absence in the volatile region since at least the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The arrival Friday of the USS John C. Stennis comes as Iranian officials have returned to repeatedly threatening to close off the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes.

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Pompeo to Abdul Mahdi: Washington supports the sovereignty and prosperity of Iraq
http://www.almadarnews.org/index.php?page=article&id=55579
22nd April, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday assured Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Washington's support for a strong, prosperous and prosperous Iraq.

The Arab media, followed by 'orbit', that 'US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, today held a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi '.

She added that 'Pompeo assured Abdul Mahdi during the contact Washington's support for Iraq's rapprochement with neighboring Arab countries, in addition to its support for a strong, prosperous and prosperous Iraq." 

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No more waivers: US will try to force Iranian oil exports to zero, report says

Secretary of State Pompeo will announce on Monday that US will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country, Washington Post reports
pompeo-afp%20file-11%3A18.jpg?itok=74v7U
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have message for world oil markets (AFP/file photo)
By 
Published date: 21 April 2019 23:56 UTC | Last update: 10 hours 54 min ago

About a year after the US left the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department is set to announce that all countries must end their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to sanctions, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

On Monday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce that as of 2 May, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate, two unidentified State Department officials told the Post’s columnist Josh Rogin.

Last November, the State Department issued 180-day waivers to eight countries to give them more time to find alternative sources of oil.

 

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Opinion: The West's irrational fear of Iran is a disaster waiting to happen
Read More »

 

A decision to end waivers would have implications for world oil markets, which have been awaiting word from US President Donald Trump.

Reuters news agency said it was unable to independently verify the report.

The two officials told Rogin that market disruption should be minimal for two reasons: supply is now greater than demand and Pompeo is also set to announce offsets through commitments from other suppliers including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Three of the eight countries that received US waivers last November have already reduced their Iranian oil imports to zero: Greece, Italy and Taiwan. The other countries that will now have to cut off Iranian oil imports or be subject to US sanctions are China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.

 

iran%20oil-afp%20file-17.jpg?itok=sK2pkB
US extends waiver for Iraq to import Iranian gas despite sanctions
Read More »

 

The Post’s report made no mention of Iraq's imports of gas and electricity.

The State Department last month issued a second three-month exemption from Iran sanctions for Iraq, which is heavily reliant on Iranian gas and electricity to cope with chronic blackouts that have triggered protests and anger.

"While this waiver is intended to help Iraq mitigate energy shortages, we continue to discuss our Iran-related sanctions with our partners in Iraq," a State Department official said at the time.

In February, Germany and the European Union rejected a US appeal for Europeans to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal and isolate Tehran.

The EU's diplomatic chief, Federica Mogherini, said the bloc was determined to preserve the "full implementation" of the deal, which she described as vital to European security.

In January, France, Germany and Britain moved forward with a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert US sanctions, Reuters reported.

Europe’s special purpose vehicle, called the Instrument in support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX), was registered in France and will be headed by German banker Per Fischer, a former Commerzbank director.

The vehicle was conceived as a way to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of European Union goods.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/no-more-waivers-us-will-try-force-iranian-oil-exports-zero-report-says

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#Iran #Sanctions #MikePompeo

U.S. ending sanction waivers for Iran oil imports

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced April 22, that The White House is ending exemptions from sanctions for countries that import Iranian oil. The White House initially made the announcement in a statement, which said it was taking "timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market." The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, won't be renewed when they expire on May 2. The move comes as the administration toughens its already strict penalties on Iran by trying to choke off all the revenue the country makes from oil sales. The waivers had been in place since November, when the administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
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WORLD NEWS /22 APR 2019

Iraq’s Pragmatism: Between Iran’s Sanctions and Saudi Grand Designs

Three decades after the Iran-Iraq war ended, relations between both states have strengthened thanks to regional events. The 2003 invasion of Iraq that overthrew Saddam Hussein left a power vacuum in Baghdad that was filled by Tehran’s taking advantage of the Shiite connection and Daesh presence in Iraqi territory.

The rupture of the nuclear treaty between Iran and the United States and President Donald Trump’s decision to classify the Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization has created a challenge for Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Abdul-Mahdi. As a result, Abdul-Mahdi has had to navigate between extremes based on Iraq’s economic and political development and needs. On the one hand, Washington is a guarantor of the opening to the international system, while Tehran is the main energy supplier and together with Turkey one of the two most relevant commercial partners of the Iraqi Republic.

In this context and faced with the impossibility to meet its energy needs, a waiver for 45 days was given by the Trump administration with the purpose for Abdul-Mahdi to find a way to reduce dependence on Iran, bringing Saudi Arabia closer as a reliable source. However, the Trump administration plan collided with Iranian structural power in Iraq. Iran’s influence on different sectors of the Iraqi government forced the United States to extend the waver for 90 days.

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(Saudi Press Agency)

From distrust to close ties

After the end of the Iran-Iraq War, relations between both were maintained in a latent warlike state. However, Saddam Hussein’s fall at the hands of United States, guaranteed Tehran the possibility of strengthening its ties with Iraqi Shia political communities. As a result, Iran’s popularity grew and peaked with the Daesh advent as a threat to Baghdad’s integrity. Likewise, Iranian power was not reduced only to political-military aspects, it also involved the Iraqi market opening to Iranian companies that wanted to grow after the end of international sanctions on Tehran’s economy.

The conflict with Daesh which damaged the Iraqi economy showcased the precarious infrastructure development and especially the incapacity to provide essential basic services in energy, despite having the suitable natural resources to fulfill this aim. In this context, Iran became Iraq’s main gas and electricity supplier, accounting for 40% of national consumption. Moreover, since Hassan Rouhani’s rise to power, the Persian country took a relevant role in the international market. For example, last year Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to $12 billion and 5 million tourists visited Shiite holy places in both countries, generating an estimated revenue of $5 billion.

In this context, Abdul-Mahdi is struggling to maintain balance-pragmatism between the United States and Iranian supporters. Abdul-Mahdi is aware of the importance of both partners for the survival of his government, but he notes with concern that sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on Iran impacts Baghdad’s local economy. Twenty-two cooperation agreements were signed during Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Iraq and they discussed solutions to avoid Iran’s difficult position in the international scenario. For example, the Iranian ambassador, Iraj Masjedi, recently stressed that “taking into consideration problems that have emerged in banking transactions based on dollar, the joint proposal is to use dinar in our trade.”

On the other hand, the Iraqi government is suffering the effects of weak economic performances in Turkey and Iran. The Turkish lira crisis impacted on GDP, foreign direct investment and business. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s decision to classify the Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group endangers some of the bilateral plans, like the Basra-Shalamchech railway project which includes Syria as well, the joint exploration of Naftshahr and Khorramshahr oil-gas fields and the relevant investment in defence by companies linked to the Iranian military, estimated $20 billion in business.

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(Facebook)

Finally, the scenarios described are a clear example of how Iran managed to enhance its structural power over Iraq. As a consequence, Abdul-Mahdi requested from the United States a waiver to maintain food exchanges for gas with Hassan Rouhani’s government. As a result, the Trump administration adopted a double position. On the one hand, the administration ceded for only 45 days, while on the other, Washington pushed for Saudi Arabia to increase its presence in the Iraqi market and replace Teheran as the main supplier.

The Saudi plans

In this complex regional framework, the Saudi government has recently opened a consulate in Baghdad for the first time in 30 years. Bilateral relations had been severely damaged during the Gulf War in the early 1990s and the breakdown deepened after the Daesh irruption as a threat to Iraqi territorial sovereignty. As a consequence of these distant links, the first official visit of a foreign Minister from Saudi Arabia to Iraq was in 2017, thirty years since the last meeting.

The Saudi approach to Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi’s government takes place while the United States decides to extend the electricity-gas waiver for 90 days with the aim to strengthen Iraqi independence and mitigate Iran’s power over the Arab country. In addition, the Alliance between Donald Trump and Mohamed bin Salman allowed Riyadh to increase its area of influence in the Levant through a pragmatic policy that built links without any sectarian crisis.

On the other hand, during Baghdad’s consulate opening, the Kingdom delegation committed to invest $1 billion in real estate and development projects such as a sports complex. At the same time, they provided a loan to the Iraqi government of $500 million to boost exports.

Finally, Riyadh also intends to take advantage of the Turkish economic crisis which is one of the most relevant Iraqi commercial partners. This situation allows the Saudi government to move its pieces in the Iraqi puzzles. For example, Rushdie Mahmoud Rashid al-Ani, ambassador of Iraq in the Arab Gulf country, declared that Abdul Mahdi will visit Saudi Arabia in the last week of April to attend the signing of thirteen agreements between both states. Three of them are aimed at promoting cooperation in the oil sector. The Baghdad government offered 186 business opportunities during the second session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council.

The Iraqi pragmatism

After years of clashes between the Ayatollah regime and Saddam Hussein’s government, Iran has consolidated its structural power over Iraq. In turn, the Washington-Tehran conflict represents a complicated challenge for Abdul Mahdi who must do his best to maintain pragmatism between both extremes and mitigate the effects on the local economy. More than 100 Persian companies are operating in the Iraqi market and the importance of Iranian gas is key to achieve the energy supply for the Iraqi national productive sectors.

On the other hand, the United States is conscious of the difficult economic situation in which Iraq finds itself. Therefore, Washington has decided to extend the electricity-gas waiver for 90 days, guaranteeing the exchange agreement of food for gas between Baghdad and Tehran. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is pushing to become the new energy supplier, offering contractual benefits such as discounts to Iraq.

In this context, Mohammed bin Salma’s strategy is based on an investment package destined for development projects and exports promotion. This should ensure the building bridge that allows them to “overcome” sectarian problems.

The Iraqi government is demonstrating to the world and the region a pragmatism that characterizes it due to the country’s economic needs. The prime minister held a meeting with Hassan Rouhani, and he will visit Saudi Arabia for the first time in 30 years. Meanwhile, Washington’s policy to Iraq has not yet found a way to solve this complex situation.

https://intpolicydigest.org/2019/04/22/iraq-s-pragmatism-between-iran-s-sanctions-and-saudi-grand-designs/

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U.S. Moves to Stop All Nations From Buying Iranian Oil, but China Is Defiant

 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would no longer grant oil waivers to China and India, Iran’s two largest customers.CreditAndrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
merlin_153831918_78d7caf1-5bef-4367-8a95
 
 
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would no longer grant oil waivers to China and India, Iran’s two largest customers.CreditCreditAndrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • April 22, 2019
  •  

WASHINGTON — In tightening sanctions on Iran, the Trump administration moved on Monday to isolate Tehran economically and undercut its power across the Middle East. But the clampdown has complicated relations with China at a particularly sensitive moment.

The decision to stop five of Iran’s biggest customers from buying its oil was an audacious strike at Tehran’s lifeline — one million barrels of oil exports daily, fully half of which go to China. The order was also aimed at India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, all countries that trade robustly with the United States.

All are also partners with the United States on major security and diplomatic issues that do not involve Iran.

“We will no longer grant exemptions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeosaid in announcing that current sanctions waivers to the five nations would expire on May 2, clearing the way for American economic penalties against all companies or financial institutions that continue to take part in transactions linked to buying Iranian oil.

 
 

By withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and phasing in sanctions, the Trump administration has sought to cripple the Iranian government and weaken the power of its ruling clerics. Mr. Pompeo said Iran has earned about $50 billion annually from oil sales, accounting for as much as 40 percent of government revenues.

The Iranian economy is already reeling from sanctions that have also led to a shortage in critical medicine, and Iranian-backed militias have been forced to tighten their payrolls.

 

By retracting its oil exemptions, the Trump administration is encroaching on China’s energy security even as Washington is trying to strike an all-important trade deal with Beijing. The United States also needs China’s help in controlling North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.

The Chinese government immediately pushed back against the decision on the waivers, although analysts said both Beijing and Washington will be careful not to jeopardize their trade talks.

“China consistently opposes U.S. unilateral sanctions,” said Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman. “The Chinese government is committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”

 
 

Mr. Pompeo said the United States has been in “constant discussions with allies and partners” to find an alternative source of oil, including the United Arab Emirates. It is also further embracing Saudi Arabia to punish Iran but avoid damaging the global economy.

But the Trump administration’s increased coordination with Saudi Arabia, to ensure that oil markets remain fully supplied, follows persistent and bipartisan criticism in Congress of the kingdom’s human rights record, its war in Yemen and its role in the October killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a resident of the United States.

Saudi Arabia is an avowed enemy of Iran. It has also been coordinating with Russia in recent years to manage global oil prices. Should Russia balk at increasing its own output to stymie the United States, oil prices could soar and hurt the global economy.

International oil prices, which had already climbed $20 a barrel this year, soared by 3 percent after the first reports on Sunday of the administration’s policy shift. With the summertime surge in energy use and the 2020 elections drawing closer, President Trump has railed on Twitter against higher gasoline prices that have resulted from rising oil prices. Those prices are now at roughly their highest level in six months.

Iran reacted angrily, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, a move that would effectively sabotage the world economy.

“In the event of any threats, we will not have the slightest hesitation to protect and defend Iran’s waterway,” said Alireza Tangsiri, head of the Revolutionary Guard naval force, according to state media.

Among all the complications, one stands out. China is Iran’s largest oil buyer and has been increasing its purchases this year, contrary to Trump administration demands that it gradually bring the imports to zero.

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“We’re going to zero,” Mr. Pompeo said. “We’re going to zero across the board.”

The United States and China have been closing in on an agreement that would cover a wide range of trade issues.

Negotiations are expected to continue over the next two weeks, first in Beijing and then in Washington, to resolve several sticking points, including the all-important issue of removing current tariffs. If those gaps are bridged, the two sides will look to schedule a signing summit between Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China in May or June, said a person who has been briefed on the talks and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Any move by Beijing to keep buying Iranian oil — which analysts predicted China almost certainly will find some way to do — would force the United States to decide whether to sanction Chinese financial institutions, which are increasingly important in the worldwide economy. China could also set up a new vehicle as an alternative to using the current banking mechanisms, as the European nations have done to keep doing some business with Iran.

“Iran sanctions are going to be a big challenge for the U.S.-Chinese relationship,” said Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a former energy adviser to President Barack Obama.

He added that if Chinese imports do not drop quickly, the American sanctions could be applied to Beijing’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

The United States and China are already at odds over an incendiary case involving Iran sanctions.

In January, Canadian authorities arrested a top Chinese technology executive, Meng Wanzhou, at the Vancouver airport at the request of American officials. The United States Justice Department is seeking her extradition to face charges of helping her company, Huawei, evade sanctions on Iran in a scheme that involved tricking American banks.

That case has been criticized by the Chinese officials, who have said it is motivated purely by politics. It also heightened fury and grievances from the Chinese government over sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran in the administrations of both Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump. Chinese companies have many business ties to Iran.

 
 

The case of Ms. Meng shows how tensions over various issues could impact the trade talks. Mr. Trump has suggested he could help with Ms. Meng’s release if China cooperates in the negotiations. The oil issue could also end up as a bargaining chip in those talks.

Leaders of the other four nations are also certain to be upset by Monday’s announcement.

The United States needs to keep frictions at a minimum with South Korea and Japan, both of which are key partners on a policy to deal with North Korea. Turkish officials in Washington last week asked for a continued waiver for oil purchases, with Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, noting that “we have a long border with Iran, we have cultural ties.”

And India, which imports four-fifths of its oil, depends on Iran as one of its main suppliers. Monday’s decision could have an immediate effect on Indian financial markets if it causes oil prices to jump.

American officials had granted six-month oil purchase waivers last November to eight governments after imposing major sanctions on Iran. In recent weeks, they had debated whether to continue the exemptions for the five nations still buying oil from Iran.

For all of its complications with Washington, Saudi Arabia enthusiastically endorsed the end of the exceptions. The rise in global oil prices finance the kingdom’s budget and may attract international investors to its proposed initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, which has been delayed over the last year.

“Saudi Arabia will coordinate with fellow oil producers to ensure adequate supplies are available to consumers while ensuring the global oil market does not go out of balance,” said Khalid al-Falih, the Saudi Minister of Energy.

But some experts warned that relying on Riyadh presents other threats to the stability of the Persian Gulf, including possible Iranian cyberattacks on Saudi energy facilities. “The disruption of Saudi oil production could systematically rattle markets,” according to a research note by the consultancy Eurasia Group on Monday.

 
 

Russia, which is able to deliver more oil supplies, also stands to profit. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said last week that he was satisfied with the rise in prices, and that it was premature to reconsider production levels for the second half of the year.

Since the administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal nearly one year ago, oil prices have been on an erratic ride.

Oil prices first soared to over $85 a barrel as tensions between the United States and Iran escalated, before plunging to around $50 after the administration granted the waivers six months ago. As crude prices have rebounded since January, so have prices for American drivers at the pump.

The average price of regular gasoline nationwide has increased by 23 cents over the last month alone to $2.84, 8 cents above a year ago. They are bound to go higher during the summer driving season, energy analysts said, especially if American sanctions remain against Venezuela and political crises persist in Libya, two other major oil producers.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/22/world/middleeast/us-iran-oil-sanctions-.html

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                                                                     HYPOTETICAL AND POSSIBLE TALK NOT PUBLISHED IN THE NEWS,,,                
 POMPEO:  Hey madhi how about RV ?   I would like to change a couple of millions for pending  debts I have ..                                                                      MADHI: surely my friend it will be in a few more days ... I am also urged by revalued dinars,,     lol¡  :)

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US Decision {paralyzes the Iranian oil sector}

 
Baghdad / Agencies 
 
 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington decided on Monday to end the eight-nation exemption to buy Iranian oil to achieve zero exports of crude exported by the Islamic Republic, a resolution that drew mixed views between supporters of the move, which came months after the US withdrawal from Iraq. The international agreement, which was followed by Washington with economic sanctions against Tehran. Eight countries - China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, Italy and Greece - will face sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil.
The new US position was met by a Turkish rejection expressed by Foreign Minister Mouloud Chaouisheoglu, who stressed that his country "does not accept unilateral sanctions or dictations concerning the nature of the relations we have with our neighbors." Saudi Arabia expressed its "commitment" to the resolution, Khalid Al-Falih, that Riyadh is committed to ensuring a "balance" in the global oil market after the decision. "
For its part, Iran condemned the new US sanctions on it as "illegal.
"As long as the sanctions we are dealing with are illegal in principle, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not commented and will not attach any importance to the exemptions related to the alleged sanctions, and they do not consider them to have any credibility," the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Iran continues to "discuss" these issues with its partners, especially the Europeans, "on a permanent basis," the ministry said.
The language of the Iranian threat was not lost after Washington's decision. The Revolutionary Guard said it would "close the Strait of Hormuz if Iran prevented it from using it."
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April 22, 2019

A U.S sailor keeps watch from the captain's bridge onboard the USS John C. Stennis as it makes its way to the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018.
A U.S sailor keeps watch from the captain's bridge onboard the USS John C. Stennis as it makes its way to the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018.
 

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard navy has said that if Iran is not allowed to export its oil through the Hormuz Strait, it would close the vital shipping route.

Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri told Iran’s Arabic TV channel Al-Alam early on April 22, “The Hormuz Strait, based on law is an international shipping route and if we are banned from using it, we will close it”.

Tangsiri might have been referring to reports since April 21 that the United States might not renew sanctions’ exemptions earlier granted to allies to buy Iranian oil. Current exemptions or waivers run out at the end of April and countries such as Japan and South Korea would be affected.

The United States designated the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” on April 8.

The Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, is the only waterway linking the Gulf to the open sea. With 20 percent of the world’s petroleum passing through the strait, it is key to the global oil supply chain. The strait has been the site of repeated standoffs between Iran and the United States.

Iranian oil exports have more than halved since the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran’s exports in November 2018.

Earlier in February Tangsiri had also threatened to close Hormuz, if Iran’s oil exports dropped to zero.

U.S. administration officials have repeatedly said that their aim is to bring down Iran’s oil exports to zero to pressure Tehran to change its behavior.

Infographic: Strait Of Hormuz Shipping Lanes
Infographic: Strait Of Hormuz Shipping Lanes
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      Iraq aims to ease US-Iran tensions
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      The Iraqi president, prime minister and speaker of Parliament, as well as heads of political blocs and commanders of armed factions linked to Iran, have held meetings over the past few days.
      “We’re working together to invest our relations with the two parties (the US and Iran) in order to ease the tension and find peaceful solutions,” Ahmad Al-Assadi, head of an Iraqi parliamentary bloc, told Arab News.
      “The outbreak of war between America and Iran will cause great damage to the entire region. Iraq will be the biggest loser because it’s in the heart of the storm.”
      During the meetings, political leaders and representatives of armed factions linked to Iran agreed on a 12-point document that aims “to keep Iraq away from the ongoing struggle between the US and Iran by all possible means.” Al-Assadi said the Iraqi Parliament will vote on the approved document.
      Dozens of paramilitary troops associated with Iran operate in Iraq, and present the biggest challenge for the Iraqi government and political leaders.
      “We agreed that no armed faction is allowed to ignite the war inside Iraq for any reason, and whoever violates this deal will be considered our enemy,” one of the leaders linked to Iran, who participated in the meetings, told Arab News.
      “We don’t want to be blamed for this war, but the situation may change if the US insists on starting this war inside Iraq.”
       
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