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Rouhani: If US blocks Iran’s oil exports, will close trade route

06 December 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday repeated his threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for almost a third of all oil traded by sea, if the US shuts off Iran's oil exports.

The strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is crucial to global energy supplies.

In November, the U.S. reimposed all sanctions previously lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, which Washington unilaterally withdrew from in May.

It has granted temporary waivers to eight countries, including Iraq, who are heavily dependent on oil imports from Tehran, on condition that they seek alternative sources.

Iran's president downplayed the economic impact of sanctions, accusing the media of exaggerating the country's problems.

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"No hyperinflation, no massive unemployment will threaten us".

"Preventing Iran from exporting oil would mean preventing the entire region from doing so", he said.

Mr Rouhani acknowledged there were "some problems", but said these would be addressed in the new budget plan to be presented on December 16.

He said the government would maintain subsidies on essential goods and increase public sector wages and pensions by 20 percent. They were after separating Khuzestan province, imposing sanctions against the country, and undermining Iran's power, but they failed.

"The United States should know that we are selling oil and we will sell our oil and it can not block Iran's oil export", he said on Tuesday addressing the people of Shahroud in Semnan province broadcast live on state TV.

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Rouhani did not say which subjects the United States wanted to negotiate about and nor did he specify whether he was referring to the Iranian calendar year, which begins in March.

But Iran defended its controversial missile programme describing it as "defensive", after the United States accused it of test-firing a rocket capable of hitting Europe.

Following incendiary remarks by U.S. officials thrown at Tehran, Iran's deputy commander of the regular armed forces said that the military was "prepared" to protect Iranian oil tankers.

"Iran's missile programme is defensive in nature".

The carrier deployment, though previously scheduled, was announced after the USA condemned Iran's test firing a medium-range nuclear capable ballistic missile on Sunday.

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European Union countries have denounced the move and are working to preserve the nuclear deal, even though they have also criticised Iranian positions on other matters.

Rouhani: If US blocks Iran’s oil exports, will close trade route