Friday, 22 March, 2019

Iran promises 'crushing response' after Netanyahu calls to block its oil trade

Iran warns Israel of 'firm response' if it acts against oil 'Israel to Face Tough Response If Threatens Iranian Tankers'
Jeannette Daniel | 15 March, 2019, 09:51

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 USA sanctions.

In response, Hatami, quoted by the state news agency IRNA, stated that Tehran possessed the military capability to deal with any Israeli intervention.

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".

All eight are in bilateral talks about the waivers, sources said.

Iran was the eighth biggest oil supplier to India in February compared with seventh in January, and slipped from third position it held a year ago, the data showed.

The owners of the vessels, who were listed in the British Virgin Islands, could not be contacted.

Renewed US 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. He also threatened to deploy the Israeli Navy to help tackle Iran's alleged efforts to illegally take oil through sea routes to avoid U.S. sanctions.

Shipping sources tell Reuters that this time around it will be more hard for Iran to procure ships than it was with the previous round of sanctions due to increased scrutiny and because businesses don't want to be involved in anything linked to Iran for fear of running afoul of the US sanctions.

More than 20 other tankers in Iran's fleet have been reflagged to Iran this year.

More news: Washington No Longer Refers to Golan as 'Israel-Occupied'

Greece and Italy were not buying any Iranian oil, Iran's oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, was quoted as saying in February.

Dealing with Iran's flag registry raises compliance issues for counterparties as there is a risk they might interact with individuals or entities blacklisted under US sanctions, shipping experts say.

In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook called Iranian vessels a "floating liability", saying the US sanctions would bar them from global insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.

Washington may also deny waivers to some countries that have not bought Iranian crude recently, the sources said.

Both sources said they were briefed by the Trump administration on the matter but were not authorized to speak publicly about it and asked for anonymity.

"From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all chokepoints in between, Iranian tankers are now a floating liability", Hook said.

Vietnamese officials did not respond to requests for comment.

"Banks will not engage when you mention the Iran word".

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