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Iran says it has many options to neutralise ‘illegal’ US sanctions

Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports
Iranian navy missile launch during military drill in Gulf of Oman on Friday (AFP)

Iran said on Saturday it has many options to neutralise the reimposition of US sanctions on its oil exports, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, adding that Tehran's regional influence will not be curbed as demanded by Washington.

"Apart from closing Strait of Hormuz, we have other options to stop oil flow if threatened... The US administration lacks goodwill, no need to hold talks with America," Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani told Tasnim, as quoted by Haaretz.

"Iran has plans in place that will neutralise the illegal US sanctions against Iran's oil exports," Shamkhani added. "We have many ways to sell our oil," Reuters quoted him as saying.

Tensions between Iran and the United States increased after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers last May, and then reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The restoration of sanctions is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Iran to further curb its nuclear and missile programmes as well as its support for proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

Washington had been pushing governments to cut imports of Iranian oil to zero. But, fearing a price spike, it granted waivers to some buyers when the sanctions on oil imports started last November.

Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.

Carrying one-third of the world’s seaborne oil every day, the Strait of Hormuz links Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

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On Friday, Iran launched a massive set of war games featuring the country's submarine-launched cruise missiles in the waters surrounding the Persian Gulf, Newsweek reported.

Iranian naval forces began a three-day exercise that will cover more than 770,000 square miles in the Strait of Hormuz, Sea of Oman and Indian Ocean, the news magazine said. The manoeuvres were set to involve hundreds of pieces of equipment, including surface ships, submarines, hovercraft, planes and helicopters, but most notably, a brand new Fateh cruise-missile submarine.

Iran - the dominant Shia Muslim power and rival with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab allies of the US - has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most supportive ally, along with Russia, against rebels throughout that country’s almost eight-year civil war.

Another Tasnim report on Friday noted that Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow will continue all-out cooperation with Iran, “including in the area of nuclear energy, despite all the pressures from the United States”, as quoted in the Jerusalem Post. Russia said that US efforts to “scare” Moscow regarding trade were unacceptable.

"We have achieved 90 percent of Iran's goals in Syria," said Shamkhani, a close ally of Iran's top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"There will be important developments in promoting deterrence capability of the resistance front in Syria," said Shamkhani when asked about Israel's "possible future attacks" in Syria, according to Tasnim.

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Iran often refers to regional countries and forces opposed to Israel and the United States as a "resistance axis".

Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in neighbouring Syria, says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Defying Israeli threats that they might be targeted if they do not leave the country, Iran says it will continue to provide military advisers to Syria for as long as necessary in support of Assad's forces.

"Iran is capable of confronting any military threat ... Trump and Israel are well aware of Iran's military might," Shamkhani said. "They know that they cannot enter a war with Iran. That is why they publicly threaten Iran."