USA navy on alert as Iran threatens to block Gulf oil route

IRAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attend a news conference at the

IRAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attend a news conference at the

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had Tuesday labelled the USA push to cut Iran's oil production to zero "a baseless fantasy" and an attempt to drive "imperialist policy in flagrant violation of global law".

"The EU package is a commitment, but we have to wait and see how it will be put into practice before the first sanction date" of August 6.

A senior US military leader said in 2012 the Guards have the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz "for a period of time" but the United States would take action to reopen it in such an event.

Hassan Rouhani, who spoke with his French counterpart on the phone, also said the European Union's proposed package on continuation of cooperation under the nuclear deal does not cover all demands of Iran.

Iran is also anxious about continuing its oil exports to other markets and about being shut out of worldwide bank payments systems.

Mogherini noted that companies pursuing business in Iran "have been acting in good faith based on the commitments contained in the JCPOA and endorsed at the highest level by the UN Security Council" and said the treaty states were committed to providing "clear and effective support for economic operators trading with Iran".

"After the withdrawal of the United States, which we can't understand, we face a hard situation", he added, but he stressed that "we want to make clear to Iran that it will still gain economic benefits through this agreement".

"These initiatives are aimed at preserving the nuclear deal which is in the security interest of all", said the joint statement read out by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

"I am sure that we will send a united, determined and strong signal and confirm that we as treaty members will hold on to the deal", Wang said, Press TV reported.

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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.

"If the process of the European foreign ministers' meeting in Vienna, which is aimed at encouraging Iran to cooperate, is promising, we will continue our cooperation", he said.

She said all sides would continue to look at ways to maintain the deal despite the re-imposition of United States sanctions.

However, he warned that if the European sides fail to properly fulfill their commitments, Iran would take its own measures to counter the USA withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Since Trump pulled Washington out of the historic nuclear deal, European countries have been scrambling to ensure that Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal.

Iranians have complained that the hoped-for rise in foreign investment and trade after the deal has not materialised.

"We must put in place measures that allow Iran to trade as long as it meets its commitments", he told RTL radio in France, cautioning that the new steps may take until November when numerous sanctions take effect.

The Iranian president said, "After the U.S. unilateral and illegal exit, Moscow has an important role in the reinforcement of the JCPOA and fulfillment of the opposite sides' commitments".

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