Zarif to Trump: Iran oil ban will fail, “world is sick & tired of US unilateralism”

Zarif to Trump: Iran oil ban will fail, “world is sick & tired of US unilateralism”
Zarif (right), seen with his deputy Abbas Araghchi, is proving fast on the draw when it comes to battling Trump on Twitter.
By bne IntelliNews August 8, 2018

Mocking Donald Trump’s "tantrums and CAPPED TWEETS", Iran’s foreign minister has declared that the US president’s attempt at preventing Iran from exporting crude oil has no chance of succeeding.

In an interview with the Iran newspaper, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said the Trump administration's stated aim of cutting Iranian oil exports to zero with the use of a second wave of sanctions to be brought in on November 4 was "meaningless" and "impossible".

"The countries currently the US is negotiating with have told Washington that they will continue their oil purchases from Iran," he was quoted as saying. ChinaTurkey and EU member states are among nations that have so far made it clear to the US they will continue buying Iranian oil and conducting other business with the Islamic Republic.

On August 7, Trump—who is attempting to strangle Iran’s economy with sanctions to the point that Tehran is pressured into talks to reshape what he describes as “malign” Middle East policies and activities—tweeted: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

Zarif responded on Twitter by writing: "Tantrums & CAPPED TWEETS won't change the fact that the world is sick & tired of US unilateralism."

He added: "Stopping US trade and killing 100K US jobs is fine with us, but the world won't follow impulsive tweeted diktats. Just ask EU, Russia, China & dozens of our other trading partners."

Zarif noted that the big European powers were asking other countries to also continue purchasing Iranian oil. The UK, France and Germany are aligned with fellow nuclear deal signatories Russia and China who say there is no need for Trump’s sanctions campaign because the accord that the US president walked out of in early May is working well.

The major EU nations, Zarif added, have also proposed setting up accounts for the Central Bank of Iran in their national banks to help Iran get around US restrictions on its use of US banknotes and financial channels connected to the US financial system. "As a result of these measures, the US has been isolated," Zarif said.

Early impact of sanctions shown by shipping
Despite Zarif’s confidence and defiance, ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed on August 8 that, although it is still nearly three months until the US sanctions targeting Iran’s crude exports snap back into force, they are already having a big impact on the Persian Gulf country’s oil trade, even where neighbour Turkey is concerned.

Iran’s oil outflow has fallen and the country is having to rely more on its own fleet of tankers to carry oil to its customers.

Iran’s exports of crude and condensate—a form of light oil extracted from gas fields—were down by 430,000 barrels a day, or 15%, in July compared with April, the last month before Trump announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the reimposing of heavy sanctions.

Iran’s fleet of very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, and Suezmax tankers—the largest that can fit fully-laden through the Suez Canal—has always played an important role in delivering Iranian crude to customers, but its importance is increasing as insurers and international shipping companies react to the sanctions snap-back, the news agency reported. In April, vessels belonging to the National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC) were hauling a little under half of the country’s crude and condensate exports. By last month that share had risen to around two-thirds.

“This clearly shows there is hesitation among buyers around continuing to purchase Iranian crude with the implementation of these sanctions,” Warren Patterson, commodity strategist for ING Bank, was cited as saying, adding that the dip in flows will probably result in tighter supply of oil.

Under the previous sanctions on Iran that applied before the nuclear deal took effect in January 2016, all crude deliveries from Iran to Turkey were made on ships belonging to NITC. That began to change in mid-2016, after those sanctions were lifted, and from September of that year it became rare to see Iranian-owned tankers passing through the Red Sea and Suez Canal to Turkey.

Now that picture is switching back again. Last month more crude was loaded onto Iranian-owned tankers bound for Turkey than at any time since August 2016, the Bloomberg report said.