Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the country’s military will make the final decision on the option of closing the Strait of Hormuz, a highly important strategic location for global energy trade, in reaction to the US’ ban on the country’s oil exports.
His remarks came upon his arrival in New York where he is going to attend a UN General Assembly meeting on multilateralism and peace.
“We have said that Iran is protecting its interests, and one of which is to protect stability in the region. Stability in the region should be for everyone, economic prosperity must be for everyone, the ultimate advantage of Iran is to maintain regional stability for all,” he told reporters early Wednesday.
Zarif made the comments a few days after IRGC Navy Commander Admiral Alireza Tangsiri threatened that Iran will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it is barred from exporting its oil.
“If we are banned from using it, we will close it,” he said.
The US administration had granted waivers for its oil sanctions on Iran to eight importers when it reinstated sanctions on Iran after Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear agreement. The US claimed that the waivers were granted in part to give those countries more time to find alternate energy sources.
Washington on Monday announced it would stop issuing waivers to eight countries importing oil from Iran, as part of measures to exert pressure on Iran.
“We’re going to zero. We’re going to zero across the board,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters. “There are no (oil) waivers that extend beyond that period, full stop,” he said.
In reaction, Zarif said on Wednesday the behaviour of the United States is even worse than bandits.
The top Iranian diplomat stressed the US is in no position to grant or cancel waivers to countries buying oil from Iran.
He went on to say that Washington violates the UN Security Council resolutions and threatens other countries to follow its lead or face punishment adding that Washington’s policy in the Middle East has led to both regional and global instability.
Zarif said the Trump administration’s officials are “pawns in Netanyahu’s game”, warning the US officials against the consequences of the “extremely dangerous” Israeli game they are playing.
“With the US, with the standing of the US in the world, it seems that President Trump and the current people in the White House concern and consider more importantly the interests of Israel than those of the US,” he told reporters late Tuesday.
“[They] have become in fact pawns in a very dangerous Israeli game, in fact Netanyahu’s game in our region. And this is extremely unfortunate and extremely dangerous,” he reiterated.
Regarding Iran’s return to negotiation table, FM Zarif said Iran has never left the table, and it is Washington which should remedy its mistake of withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal if it seeks to return to negotiations with Tehran.
“They need to reassess their policies and return to a normal behaviour in the international scene. The US is currently an outlaw state that has violated almost any agreement that it had agreed,” Zarif pointed out.
“The US has not shown that it’s a credible negotiating partner; it has shown its contempt for international law and its own agreements and decisions in the past.”
Zarif’s comments come as US President Donald Trump is implementing what he calls “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic in a bid to what he calls “changing Iran’s behaviour”.