United States navy on alert as Iran threatens to block Gulf oil route

United States navy on alert as Iran threatens to block Gulf oil route

Britain, France and Germany along with Russian Federation and China met with Iran in Vienna to offer economic benefits and assurances that would lessen the blow of sweeping USA sanctions announced by Trump.

But Washington has also warned European allies that they face possible penalties if they violate US sanctions, which Washington says are aimed at reducing Iranian oil exports to "zero" - a level that would deprive Iran's economy of its principal source of revenue and economic growth.

The plan to shut down the critical shipping lane is said to be endorsed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who, along with other top Iranian officials, has been working on contingency plans to combat US economic sanctions on Tehran following President Donald Trump's decision to walk away from the nuclear agreement.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini (L); Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) and political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Abbas Araghchi take part in a Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ministerial meeting on the Iran nuclear deal on July 6, 2018 in Vienna, Austria.

Iranian officials have said that key for them is to ensure measures that guarantee oil exports do not halt, and that Tehran still has access to the SWIFT worldwide bank payments messaging system or an alternative.

Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA have agreed to continue talking, including on economic measures, over how to save the nuclear deal after the United States withdrawal. "To save the deal, other signatories should compensate for USA sanctions", a senior Iranian official told Reuters on Friday.

"They must stop the threats so that we can find the solutions so that Iran can have the necessary economic compensations", Le Drian told RTL radio before traveling to Vienna.

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She added that the participants will work on the issues such as "the encouragement of further investments in Iran, the protection of economic operators for their investments and other commercial and financial activities in or in relation to Iran, the bringing together of private and public sector experts, the practical support for trade with and investment in Iran, the protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of U.S. sanctions".

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said on Wednesday Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile USA action.

In another phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron late on Thursday, Rouhani described Paris' efforts to save the nuclear deal as "positive" but noted that "Europe's proposed package for keeping up cooperation in the JCPOA does not meet all our expectations".

"After the withdrawal of the United States, which we can't understand, we face a hard situation", he said.

Since Trump's announcement, Iran's rial currency has fallen, prices have risen and the country has been hit by street protests and strikes.

"We want to make it clear to Iran today that it still has economic benefits from this agreement", Maas told reporters.

The large rally last Saturday attracted several United States politicians, including former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani, now Trump's personal lawyer.

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