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Tuesday , November 13 2018

Tehran skirts Hormuz for oil exports

Iran to export oil despite US pressure: Rouhani

TEHRAN, Sept 4, (Agencies): Iran is to move its main oil export terminal from the Gulf to the Oman Sea, President Hassan Rouhani announced on Tuesday, sparing its tankers from using the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Rouhani said exports were already being shifted from the Khark Island terminal, deep in the Gulf, to Bandare- Jask in the Oman Sea and would be completed by the end of his term in 2021.

“This is very important for me, it is a very strategic issue for me. A major part of our oil sales must move from Khark to Jask,” Rouhani said in a televised speech as he inaugurated three new petrochemical plants in the southern energy hub of Asaluyeh.

To reach the oil terminal on Khark Island, tankers must currently pass through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, slowing down deliveries. Iran has in the past repeatedly threatened to block the Strait of — which is used by its Gulf rivals including Saudi Arabia — when faced with sanctions on its oil exports and possible military action by the US.

The latest threat was in July when Rouhani said Iran has always guaranteed the security of the strait but warned the US “should not play with the lion’s tale.” Moving its terminal to the Oman Sea would in theory allow Iran to continue exporting oil even if the strait was closed. The US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal in May and will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s oil sector in November.

The last time there was a major disruption in the fl ow of oil through Hormuz was in 1984 during the Iran-Iraq war when both sides attacked each other’s oil facilities and tankers. The strait is the world’s most important oil chokepoint with roughly 35 percent of all seaborne oil passing through it, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Bloomberg reported that Iran exported 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in August, but analysts say US sanctions could reduce sales to around 1 million bpd

Additional talks
Europe is not helping preserve an accord on Iran’s nuclear programme by asking for additional talks on issues like missiles, powerful anti-Western cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said on Tuesday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Jannati is the head of the Assembly of Experts, an influential body that can select and dismiss the supreme leader, the highest authority in Iran. Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tehran should be ready to negotiate on its future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen.

Iran’s foreign ministry rejected the idea. “Europe has announced that they won’t leave the deal,” Jannati said, according to IRNA. “In practice, by bringing up a discussion of missiles and other issues they are not following an appropriate path.” Last month, the European Union decided to provide 18 million euros ($21 million) in aid to Iran to offset the impact of US sanctions, part of efforts to salvage the deal.

Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested that the United States is trying pressure Iran through sanctions, though he did not explicitly name the United States. “The enemy says ‘I want an Iran that’s in my control, that’s in my fist,’” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state TV. “This is impossible…They want to pull us back 40 years, to surrender.” Rouhani says his country will continue exporting crude oil despite US efforts to stop it through sanctions. Speaking to a group of oil officials on Tuesday, Rouhani said the US is targeting oil exports as part of efforts to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

“We will continue by all means to both produce and export” oil, Rouhani said in remarks broadcast on state TV. “Oil is in the frontline of confrontation and resistance.” The US wants to reduce Iran’s oil exports effectively to zero with renewed sanctions in November after pulling out of the nuclear deal between Iran and western powers in May. It’s unclear, however, how much the US’s allies will cut back on Iranian oil imports. In other news, the husband of detained Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was himself arrested on Tuesday, Amnesty International said.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian authorities, and Reuters was not able to contact the judiciary. Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan — who has campaigned for her release — said on Facebook on Monday he had been called in for questioning by the Ministry of Intelligence. He said that when he objected he was told, “Then you’ll be arrested.” Sotoudeh has represented a string of rights activists including women who removed their headscarves in public to protest against Iran’s dress code, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. The prominent lawyer served about half of a six-year jail sentence imposed in 2010 for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security – charges she denied – before being freed in 2013.

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