‘We don’t have political problems with India’: Iran’s Zarif urges Delhi to defy US sanctions & resume buying Iranian oil

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on India to shirk Washington’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign and continue sourcing its energy from the Islamic Republic, arguing it’s in the country’s best interest.

While on a four-day visit to India, Zarif insisted Iran could best meet New Delhi’s oil needs, assuring that his country would keep politics out of its business dealings and remain a reliable partner.

“For India's economic growth you need more and more energy and energy security, which has been an area of concern,” Zarif said at a meeting of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) on Thursday. “I can assure you that you can't find an energy partner which is more stable, more reliable than Iran.”

We never involved politics in our energy relations. And if we did, we don't have political problems with India. We are the secured source of energy for India.

US President Donald Trump has endeavored to exert “maximum pressure” on Iran's economy in the wake of Washington’s unilateral pull-out from the nuclear pact signed with Iran and other world powers in 2015 – explicitly aiming to drive the country’s petrol exports down to “zero.” Since then, Washington has also sought to browbeat allies out of dealings with Iran, coercing India last year to halt its imports of Iranian crude altogether. While Delhi caved to the pressure, Indian officials have expressed a desire to resume the previous arrangement, buying 300,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day.

Also on rt.com Can US bring Iranian oil exports to zero?....

Barred from its first-best option, India was soon forced to boost imports of American crude to make up for shortfalls – a situation that’s apparently worked out just fine for American oil firms, who are slated to make a killing off the captive market created by the US sanctions regime.

That fact was not lost on Zarif, who said on Thursday that Washington was looking to “increase the prices of oil and energy” for its own gain.

“Now that the US is the biggest exporter of oil, they want to take the Iranian [market] share in Asia through the sale of their shale gas, which is much more expensive and much less reliable energy,” the FM observed.

Also on rt.com India stops purchases of Iranian oil as US waivers expire - envoy....

The top Iranian diplomat also took direct aim at the “maximum pressure” campaign during the FIEO meeting, calling it an attempt to “ensure that the people of Iran starve.”

“We won't beg the US [for permission] to eat,” he added.

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Iran rejects final declaration issued at Gulf Summit

Teheran, Dec 12 (Prensa Latina) Iran rejected the final declaration issued by the 40th summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which it considered imprudent and unfounded.

In a response broadcast this Thursday by local media, Foreign Secretary of State Abbas Mousavi considered as an obstacle to regional cooperation pronouncements reflected in the text of the summit.

The spokesman assured the text arose from pressure exerted by GCC directors who called to unite against Iran.

According to Mousavi, they must answer for creating and strengthening terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and also invite foreign powers to intervene in regional issues.

In this regard, he took the opportunity to mention Iran's proposals and mechanisms, including a non-aggression agreement, aimed at dialogue such as the Ormuz Peace Initiative.

Mousavi condemned the GCC's open support to economic terrorism imposed by the United States against the Persian country, an obvious policy against good neighbourliness, he stressed.

On the contrary, Tehran invited any international event to establish negotiations with all those in the region without the presence of actors outside the area.

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US-initiated ‘world war’ against Iran has failed and Washington has gone mad, IRGC militia commander says

A “world war” against Tehran has been foiled, a militia belonging to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has announced, describing recent protests over fuel price hikes as a plot instigated by Washington and its allies.

“A full-fledged world war against the system and the revolution was born and, fortunately, the child died at the moment of birth,” said Brigadier General Salar Abnoosh, a deputy head of the Basij militia, one of the five forces of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The commander accused a “coalition of evil” comprising the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, of being behind several days of unrest in the Islamic Republic.

The Revolutionary Guards said in a statement that protests had erupted in around 100 cities across Iran after the government raised fuel prices. As a result of the military’s “insight and timely action,” the unrest ended “in less than 24 hours and in some cities in 72 hours,” the Corps claimed.

Also on rt.com Iranian protesters should be angry at the regime in Washington, not Tehran...

The group’s deputy commander, Brigadier General Ali Fadavi, said that Washington has “gone mad” over the fact that the country has returned to normalcy and that there is no more “disorder” in the streets.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had called on Iran’s “brave protesters” to share videos and photographs exposing abuses by Iranian law enforcement and military personnel. He said the material would be used to “sanction” Iran for human rights violations.

Tehran has scoffed at Washington’s statements of support for the protesters, noting that US sanctions have barred “delivery of food and drugs to the elderly and patients.”

Also on rt.com Pompeo urges Iranian protesters to send him videos so that US can ‘expose & sanction’ Tehran for alleged abuses

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Stealth aggression: US attacked Iran with cyberweapons, including after Saudi oil refinery airstrike – reports

The US has conducted several cyberwarfare operations against Iran in recent months, including one in retaliation for the September 14 attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, according to Reuters sources.

The latest cyber-strike was conducted by the Pentagon sometime in late September and affected physical hardware, two sources told the news agency. The target is related to what the sources described as Tehran’s ability to spread “propaganda.” The operation was said to be smaller in scale than previous ones that took place during several months of US-Iranian brinkmanship.

Washington has a long record of using its cyber-offensive capabilities against Iran. The most famous example was Operation Olympic Games, which involved infecting industrial controllers at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant with a virus designed to damage centrifuges in ostensibly natural malfunctions. The campaign was conducted under the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and was stopped after the virus, called Stuxnet, got out of control and spread across the internet, where it was identified by cybersecurity experts.

Also on rt.com Khamenei tells Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to create its own advanced and modern weapons...

The latest cyberoperation was meant as retaliation for the September 14 drone and missile attack on a Saudi Arabian oil facility which the US and its allies blamed on Tehran. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been fighting against a Saudi-led military incursion into their country since 2015, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The escalation of tensions between the US and Iran started last year when President Donald Trump broke an international agreement signed by his predecessor and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Trump re-imposed economic sanctions which had been lifted in exchange for Iran’s agreement to restrict its nuclear industry, and targeted Iranian oil exports, threatening buyers of Iranian crude with secondary sanctions.

Washington’s public response to the September 14 airstrikes was to deploy additional troops and weapons to the region – the latest in a series of similar moves this year.

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U.S. to send troops to Saudi Arabia, as Rouhani arrives at United Nations with peace plan

United Nations, September 24 (RHC)-- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he will present a regional security plan dubbed the “Hormuz Peace Endeavor” during the United Nations General Assembly this week, as he called on foreign powers to leave the Persian Gulf amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Earlier, the Trump administration said it would deploy military forces to Saudi Arabia, as well as impose new sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and other financial institutions.  The announcements from the Pentagon were in response to the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran.  Iran has denied any involvement in the attack, which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement.

In more news about Iran, a government spokesperson said that the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker, which was seized in the Strait of Hormuz in July, had been released.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Thanks, close friends! Pompeo hails European allies for pinning blame on Tehran for Saudi oil attacks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heaped praise on America’s “close friends” – the UK, France, and Germany – after they toed the line and blamed Iran for the attacks on Saudi oil facilities – without providing any hard evidence.

Pompeo took to Twitter to thank the US allies in Europe for “their clear articulation of Iran’s sole responsibility” for what he called “the act of war against Saudi Arabia,” after the UK, France, and Germany, albeit belatedly, followed Washington’s lead and pinned the September 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities on Tehran.

Pompeo, however, did not present any evidence to back his accusations. The incident and the subsequent blame game have resulted in soaring tensions in the region, with Tehran denying it was behind the attacks that briefly cut state oil giant Saudi Aramco’s daily output in half.

Earlier on Monday, the leaders of the three European powerhouses issued a joint statement, saying that there is “no other plausible explanation” than Iran being behind the attacks.

Also on rt.com Another ‘highly likely’: UK, France & Germany blame Iran for Saudi oil attack, without evidence or investigation...

Riyadh also sided with Washington, claiming that the weapons allegedly used by the rebels originated from Iran, and arguing that this proves Tehran’s key role in the assault.

Washington has used the attacks as a pretext for a massive military build-up at Iran’s doorstep, sending an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer armed with surface-to-air and Tomahawk cruise missiles to Saudi Arabia’s shores, and vowing to speed up the delivery of weapons and to send more troops to the Gulf to fend off “Iranian aggression.”

Also on rt.com US destroyer famous for ‘self-defense strikes’ on Yemen redeploys to Saudi coast as Pentagon prepares more purely defensive assets...

As tensions flared up, Tehran said it would fight back until “the full destruction of any aggressor,” promising to shoot down any drones violating the nation’s airspace.

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Sanctions-sapping US Treasury is ‘nothing more than a jail warden,’ says Iranian FM Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has compared the US Treasury to a prison guard who throws inmates into solitary confinement for seeking sanction waivers. Washington, meanwhile, promised continued “maximum pressure.”

Zarif lashed out at the US Treasury a day after the department blacklisted several Iranian oil shipping companies. He slammed the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control as “nothing more than a JAIL WARDEN.”

“Ask for reprieve (waiver), get thrown in solitary for the audacity. Ask again and you might end up in the gallows,” Zarif wrote.

“The only way to mitigate US #EconomicTerrorism (sanctions) is to decide to finally free yourself from the hangman’s noose.”

The minister was likely referring to a potential US sanctions waiver for France, which previously suggested providing $15 billion in credit lines to Iran. Officials in Tehran said this would have sufficed as sanctions relief, prompting Iran to revert back to complying with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.

Also on rt.com Iran will give Europe two months to save nuclear deal - Rouhani...

Washington, however, rejected the prospect of a waiver, with its special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, promising “more sanctions.”

We can’t make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers.

The US insists that the sweeping sanctions are necessary to pressure Tehran into scrapping its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs, as well as ending its support for militant groups abroad. Iran, which denies any wrongdoing, says the sanctions are unjustified and violate international law. 

In the past several months, Iran has been urging the EU to provide some sort of relief from US sanctions. The Islamic Republic made this a condition for its return to full compliance with the JCPOA, which the US unilaterally abandoned last year. Previous assessments by the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), found that Iran had not violated any of its commitments by the time Washington left the agreement.

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‘Playing part in anti-Tehran policy?’ UK marines seize ship with alleged Iranian crude for Syria

Iran has summoned the British ambassador after the seizure of a supertanker that was allegedly carrying crude to fuel-starved Syria in defiance of EU sanctions. It comes as the US is trying to stifle Iranian oil trade to zero.

The MT Grace 1, a 300,000-ton Very Large Crude Carrier, was detained in a raid conducted by the British Royal Navy Marines and Gibraltar law enforcement on Thursday morning. The government of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, said the ship was detained for allegedly violating EU sanctions on Syria.

The Panama-flagged vessel owned by a Singaporean company was en route to deliver its cargo to the Banyas refinery in Syria, Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said. “That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria,” the official explained. The EU imposed sanctions on the Syrian government in 2011, but this appears to be the first time a shipment of crude allegedly violating them was detained by a European authority.

Detention of Super Tanker ‘The Grace 1'...

Spain’s caretaker Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the British targeted the tanker on a request from the US. He added that Spain, which considers the waters off Gibraltar as its own, was assessing the implications of the operation.

Iran has reportedly acknowledged ownership of the cargo. Its foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran to protest the “unlawful seizure of the Iranian tanker,” according to the IRNA news agency.

According to Reuters, the MT Grace 1 has been used by Iran in the past to ship crude to Singapore and China in defiance of unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran by the US. The current trip allegedly started in Iran’s port of Bandar Assalyeh, thought the papers state that the crude was loaded in the Iraqi port of Basra.

Also on rt.com France warns Pentagon chief not to drag NATO into military action against Iran – report...

In seizing the tanker under the pretext of sanctions on Syria, the EU seems to be at least partially siding with Washington, which is trying to cripple the Iranian economy through harsh economic sanctions. The pressure campaign was escalated after the US broke its commitment under the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

“Maybe the EU was trying to show that it was siding with the Americans, playing its part in anti-Iranian policy? We know that the Trump administration has been critical of the European countries,” Ali Rizk, a Middle East-based journalist and writer, told RT.

“And it’s likely a demonstration against Syria. It all helps an ongoing plan of parting Syria with its allies.”

Also on rt.com Tehran can reverse nuclear deal commitments in 1 hour, will increase enrichment - President Rouhani...

The seizure also comes amid an escalation in the Gulf of Oman, where several tankers have been damaged in two separate incidents. Washington accused Iran of attacking the tankers, presumably to show it can interrupt the flow of Arab crude through the crucial waterway. Iran denied the accusation and said the attacks were likely false-flag operations meant to justify an increased US military presence in the region.

Syria has been experiencing fuel shortages for years amid devastating armed conflict within the country. A large part of its oil fields in the northeastern part of the country are currently controlled by the US-backed Kurdish militias.

 

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