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

GETTYPresident Hassan Rouhani warned Iran could soon halt exports of oil to neighbouring countries

In calls Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said since the USA withdrawal "Iran has been dealing with economic issues and problems in banking relations and oil" and that foreign companies were "skeptical" about continuing their business, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

With tensions rising over the strategic waterway, the European Union is proposing a plan for salvaging a multinational nuclear deal with Tehran after Washington withdrew, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told leaders in Paris and Berlin on Thursday that the package did not go far enough. Washington has since told countries they must stop buying the OPEC producer's oil from November 4 or face financial consequences.

If Iran can not sell its oil under USA pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to either, said Mohammad Ali Jafari, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran's most powerful military force. This was extrapolated by U.S. officials as a threaten to shut down all regional oil shipping, when it could just as easily be interpreted as noting that Iran can basically export its oil under the guise of it coming from other regional countries, which is common behavior during sanctions.

On Thursday, Jafari hailed what he called Rouhani's "decisive" stance against Washington's threats, expressing the hope that the warning would be put into action if the need arises.

In response, US Navy Central Command spokesperson Bill Urban said that US ships were ready to fulfill their mission to "provide and promote security and stability in the region".

Revolutionary approaches in dealing with the enemy and the U.S. on top enables us to give a lesson to the enemy that the use of Strait of Hormuz will be for all or for none, stressed the commander.

The pillars of the European Union's strategy are: European Investment Bank lending, a special measure to shield EU companies from U.S. secondary sanctions, and a Commission proposal that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid United States penalties.

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With a third of the world's sea-borne oil passing through it every day, the Strait of Hormuz is a strategic artery linking Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have also warned that they may block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in response to USA calls to ban all Iranian oil exports.

An Iranian warship and speed boats take part in a naval war game in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, southern Iran April 22, 2010.

Would Iran actually block shipping in the Strait of Hormuz?

The EU, once Iran's biggest oil importer, has vowed to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive without the United States by trying to keep oil and investment flowing.

The pillars of the European Union's strategy are: European Investment Bank lending, a special measure to shield EU companies from US secondary sanctions, and a Commission proposal that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid USA penalties. The proposed package "only included some general promises like previous European Union statements", Rouhani said.

Iran, which strongly denies ever seeking to build a nuclear bomb, has warned it could resume uranium enrichment for civilian purposes if the deal collapses.

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