"It has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region's oil is exported," says Iran's President Hassan Rouhani ahead of a planned meeting with the five global powers that are still party to a 2015 deal.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said regional oil exports may be threatened if the United States tries to pressure its allies to stop buying Iranian crude oil, his website reported on Tuesday.
Rouhani's comments come as Iran is planning to hold a meeting later this week with the foreign ministers of the five global powers that are still party to a 2015 deal, under which Tehran agreed to curbs its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
"The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran's oil exports. They don't understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region's oil is exported," Rouhani said late on Monday during a visit to Switzerland, the website president.ir reported.
He did not elaborate, and his comments could be open to interpretation. However, they could be seen as a tacit threat to interfere with the shipping of Iran's neighbours.
Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action against Iran.
Pleased to welcome President @Rouhani_ir to #Switzerland. We plan to discuss our bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them as well as regional and non-proliferation issues at a crucial time. #swisspresident pic.twitter.com/AvwPgurzjO— Alain Berset (@alain_berset) July 2, 2018
The United States pulled out of that deal in May and says it now intends to impose tougher sanctions. It has since told countries they must cut all imports of Iranian oil from November and Washington is unlikely to offer any exemptions, a senior state department official said last Tuesday.
"If you [Americans] can, do this and see its result," Rouhani was quoted as saying to a gathering of Iranians living in Switzerland.
Tehran said its foreign minister would meet counterparts from US allies Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China, in Vienna on Friday to discuss ways of maintaining the nuclear deal.
Efforts to support nuclear deal
The five other powers have all said they still support the deal despite the US decision to withdraw. Iran has asked the European countries to come up with a new economic package to offset the US sanctions and preserve the accord.
"At the meeting, which will be held at the request of Iran, foreign ministers of Iran and five world powers will discuss a proposed European package and measures to protect the agreement," Iranian state news agency IRNA reported on Tuesday.
European states have been scrambling to ensure Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to maintain the nuclear curbs required in the deal.
But so far, it has proven difficult to offset the impact of continued US sanctions, with European firms reluctant to risk far-reaching US financial penalties to do business in Iran.
Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, exports about 2 million barrels of crude oil per day.
The White House said on Saturday that Saudi Arabia's King Salman had promised Trump that he can raise oil production if needed, and that Riyadh has 2 million barrels per day of spare capacity.