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March 14, 2019

Iran warns of firm response if Israel acts against its oil shipments

World

 
March 14, 2019

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 enforce U.S. sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump last year quit a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed some sanctions, aiming to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship fuel.

Iran’s Minister of Defense Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA that Tehran had the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention, and said the international community would also not accept such action. Hatami said such confrontation would be considered as “piracy” and warned that “if it happens, we will firmly respond.” “The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” Hatami said. According to maritime experts, Iran has used a variety of measures to evade sanctions, including changing the names of ships or flag registries, switching off location transponders on ships and conducting ship-to-ship transfers offshore and away from large trade hubs. Iran’s navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

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