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Iran says US efforts to block oil exports will have ‘consequences’

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during a joint press conference with U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond in Shahrbani Palace. (Hamed Malekpour/Wikimedia)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s foreign minister has warned of “consequences” if the United States continues efforts to prevent Tehran from selling oil on international markets.

Speaking at an event in New York on April 24, Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran is confident it will be able to continue exporting 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 said.

His comments came two days after Washington ended six months of waivers that allowed Iran’s eight largest customers to continue importing some Iranian oil despite sanctions that were reimposed after the Trump administration renounced a 2015 international deal aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear program. The administration has said its aim is to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said the 2015 agreement was “fatally flawed” because it did not address Iran’s ballistic-missile program or Tehran’s alleged state sponsorship of terrorism.

“If the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from [exporting oil], then it should be prepared for the consequences,” Zarif said, without specifying what actions Tehran might take.

Zarif was echoing remarks made earlier in the day by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said Washington’s elimination of the waivers was a “hostile measure” that “won’t be left without a response.”

Zarif also said that he believed Trump’s aim “is to bring us to our knees to talk.” However, he added, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton and some U.S. allies in the Mideast are pushing for “regime change” and “the disintegration of Iran.”

“It is not a crisis yet, but it’s a dangerous situation,” Zarif said. “Accidents and plotted accidents are possible.”