Iran Holds ‘Productive’ Nuclear Talks With Macron

Iran’s foreign minister said talks he held on Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron about a landmark 2015 nuclear deal were “productive”, according to the ILNA news agency.

“France had presented some suggestions and we presented some suggestions about how to carry out [the nuclear deal] and the steps that both sides need to take,” the minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said.

“The talks were good and productive, of course it depends on how the European Union can carry out the commitments within [the nuclear deal] and also the commitments that they made after [the nuclear deal] and America’s exit.”

It is not possible to renegotiate the nuclear deal, Zarif said, according to ILNA.

Thursday, August 22

Will aggressively enforce sanctions over tanker – US

The US will aggressively enforce its sanctions to prevent the private sector from assisting an Iranian oil tanker that is travelling through the Mediterranean and that Washington wants to be seized, a State Department official said on Thursday.

“The shipping sector is on notice that we will aggressively enforce US sanctions,” the official said, days after warning countries not to allow the tanker to dock.

Ship tracking data has shown the ship, Adrian Darya 1, formerly called Grace 1, last heading toward Greece, although Greece’s prime minister said it was not heading to his country.

“All parties in the shipping sector should conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure that they are not doing business with nor facilitating business for, directly or indirectly, sanctioned parties or with sanctioned cargo,” the official warned.

Prepared to work on French nuclear deal proposals – Zarif

Iran is prepared to work on French proposals to salvage the international nuclear deal that Tehran signed with world powers in 2015, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

“There are proposals on the table, both from the French and the Iranian side, and we are going to work on those proposals tomorrow,” he said at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

French President Emmanuel Macron offered on Wednesday to either soften sanctions on Iran or provide “a compensation mechanism to enable the Iranian people to live better” in return for full compliance with the pact, which the US quit last year.

Zarif added: “I’m looking forward to having a serious conversation with President Macron about possibilities to move forward.”

He had said on Monday he would meet Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris on Friday.

Zarif also addressed the US’ efforts to create a security operation, which so far Britain, Australia and Bahrain have joined, to guard shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the global oil industry.

“It’s clear that the US’ intention..(of having a) naval presence in the Persian Gulf is to counter Iran. Don’t expect us to remain quiet when somebody comes to our waters and threatens us,” Zarif said.

‘Talks are useless’ in dealing with US – Iran’s president

Iran’s president struck a muscular tone on dealings with the US, saying “talks are useless” as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers crumbles further.

President Hassan Rouhani made the comment in a speech in Tehran during the unveiling of the Bavar-373, a long-range surface-to-air missile system that he described as an improvement to the Russian S-300.

“Now that our enemies do not accept logic, we cannot respond with logic,” Rouhani said in the televised speech.

He added: “When the enemy launches a missile against us, we cannot give a speech and say: ‘Mr Rocket, please do not hit our country and our innocent people. Rocket-launching sir, if you can please hit a button and self-destroy the missile in the air.’”

On Wednesday, Iran’s state TV reported that the Bavar-373 is able to recognise up to 100 targets at the same time and confront them with six different weapons.

Since 1992, Iran has developed a homegrown defence industry that has produced light and heavy weapons ranging from mortars and torpedoes to tanks and submarines.

The US re-imposed sanctions on Iran after the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal over concerns about Iran’s missile program and regional influence.

President Donald Trump argued that the accord did not limit Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

Iran displays domestically built mobile missile defence system

Iran displayed what it described as a domestically-built long-range, surface-to-air missile air defence system.

Iran shot down a US military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June. It says the drone was over its territory, but the US says it was in international airspace.

State television showed an unveiling ceremony for the mobile Bavar-373 system, which Iranian media have described as a competitor to the Russian S-300 missile system.

“With this long-range air defence system, we can detect … targets or planes at more than 300 km (190 miles), lock it at about 250 km, and destroy it at 200 km,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami told state television.

The system’s unveiling came on Iran’s National Defence Industry Day.

Wednesday, August 21

Greece closes ports to Iranian oil tanker

Greece said on Wednesday it won’t endanger its relations with the US by aiding an Iranian supertanker sought by the US but released by Gibraltar that’s currently in the Mediterranean Sea, believed heading for a Greek port.

Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said Athens is under pressure from US authorities, which claim the Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1 is tied to a sanctioned organisation.

He told private Antenna TV that the 330-metre tanker is too big anyway to enter any Greek port and can’t legally unload its $130 million worth of light crude at EU refineries.

The vessel can still enter Greek waters or anchor offshore, in which case Athens will “see” what it will do, Varvitsiotis added.

Tuesday, August 20

Pompeo warns action

The United States will take every action it can to prevent an Iranian tanker from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of US sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned.

“We have made clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States,” Pompeo told reporters.

“If that ship again heads to Syria we will take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent that.”

The Adrian Darya – formerly the Grace 1 – left Gibraltar on August 18 and ship-tracking data showed the vessel was heading toward the Greek port of Kalamta.

‘No request’ from Iran tanker to dock in Greece – minister

Athens has received no request from the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya to dock in Greece, Merchant Marine Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis said Tuesday after a maritime tracker gave the ship’s “reported destination” as the Greek port of Kalamata.

“There is officially no request concerning the arrival of the Iranian tanker in a Greek port,” Plakiotakis told Greek media.

“We are following its progress and are working with the Greek foreign minister,” he said.

The website Marine Traffic placed the supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil some 100 kilometres northwest of the Algerian port of Oran.

Monday, August 19

Iran warns US against seizing tanker

Iran said it warned Washington through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents prior US interests, against trying to seize the tanker again.

“Iran has given necessary warnings to American officials through its official channels… not to make such a mistake because it would have grave consequences,” foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference, he dismissed the notion that there was a link between the seizure of the Iranian tanker off Gibraltar and the British-flagged tanker in the Gulf.

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“There is no connection whatsoever between these two vessels,” said Mousavi.

“The court is looking into it. We hope the (investigation) is completed as soon as possible and the verdict is issued.”

Zarif rules out talks with US over a new nuclear deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is not interested in talks with Washington, but any mediation should focus on bringing the United States back to the 2015 nuclear deal which it left last year.

Zarif was speaking in Finland after meeting Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto, who said Europe was doing its best to salvage the deal.

Iranian tanker sought by US heading toward Greece

An Iranian supertanker hauling $130 million worth of light crude oil that the US suspected to be tied to a sanctioned organisation lifted its anchor and begun moving away from Gibraltar, marine traffic monitoring data showed.

The Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, set course for Kalamata, Greece, with an estimated arrival on August 25, according to ship-tracking service MarineTraffic. It wasn’t immediately clear why the tanker would be heading there or whether the destination could change.

The vessel had been detained for a month in the British overseas territory for allegedly attempting to breach European Union sanctions on Syria.

Sunday, August 18

Adrian Darya-1 expected to leave Gibraltar Sunday night – Iran

Iran’s ambassador to Britain said the Iranian tanker caught in a stand-off between Tehran and the West is expected to leave the British territory of Gibraltar on Sunday night.

“With the arrival of two specialised engineering teams to Gibraltar … the vessel is expected to leave tonight,” Hamid Baeidinejad said on Twitter.

British Royal Marines seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran, in violation of European Union sanctions.

Gibraltar rejects US pressure to hold Iranian oil tanker

Authorities in Gibraltar say they are rejecting the United States’ renewed request that the British overseas territory not release an Iranian supertanker.

The vessel has been detained for over a month in Gibraltar for allegedly attempting to breach European Union sanctions on Syria.

In a statement Sunday, Gibraltar’s government said the ship would be free to go, as US sanctions on Iran had no equivalent in the United Kingdom or the rest of the EU.

The US had unsealed a warrant on Friday to seize the vessel, a day after Gibraltar lifted the ship’s detention.

The vessel remains at anchor off Gibraltar, laden with 2.1 million barrels of Iranian light crude oil.

A new crew is expected to arrive and sail the tanker to an undisclosed destination as early as Sunday.

Saturday, August 17

Iranian tanker to leave Gibraltar soon

The United States faced an against-the-clock legal battle to re-seize an Iranian supertanker caught in a diplomatic standoff before the vessel’s shipping agent said Saturday he would go ahead with the ship’s planned departure from Gibraltar on Sunday or Monday.

The head of the company sorting paperwork and procuring for the Grace 1 oil tanker in the British overseas territory said the vessel could be sailing away in the next “24 to 48 hours,” once new crews dispatched to the territory take over command of the ship.

“The vessel is ongoing some logistical changes and requirements that have delayed the departure,” Astralship managing director Richard De la Rosa told The Associated Press.

He said the new crews were Indian and Ukrainian nationals hired by the Indian managers of the ship and that his company had not been informed about the supertanker’s next destination.

Iran tanker shifts position but still at anchor off Gibraltar

An Iranian tanker caught in the standoff between Tehran and the West shifted position on Saturday, but its anchor was still down off Gibraltar and it was unclear if it was ready to set sail soon.

Gibraltar authorities could not be reached for comment.

The Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran.

Gibraltar lifted the detention order on Thursday but the vessel’s fate was further complicated by the US, which made a last-ditch legal appeal to hold it.

Friday, August 16

US announces warrant to seize Iranian supertanker Grace 1

The US Justice Department unveiled a warrant on Friday for the seizure of the Iranian oil supertanker Grace 1, one day after a Gibraltar judge allowed the release of the detained vessel.

The warrant says the vessel, all the oil aboard and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and bank fraud, money laundering, and terrorism forfeiture statutes.

Gibraltar’s chief minister confirms Grace 1 release

An Iranian tanker whose detention exacerbated friction between Tehran and the West could sail free from British territory Gibraltar on Friday, though a US request to halt its passage could drag the saga back into court.

The Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marine commandos in darkness at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the decision to lift the detention order came after written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge its oil in Syria.

Picardo said the US could still begin a new legal procedure for seizing the Grace 1, but that provisions under the European Union’s sanctions regulations were ending on Thursday.

Iran denied commitments in exchange for tanker release saying the vessel was not destined for Syria in the first place.

US to revoke visas held by crew of Iranian ship

US State Department said it will revoke US visas for crew members on the Iranian oil tanker.

The department stated that it intends to fully enforce all US sanctions related to Iranian oil exports despite the decision by Gibraltar to allow the ship to leave.

Thursday, August 15

Gibraltar frees Iranian vessel

Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ruled to release an Iranian supertanker seized last month on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, despite a last-minute US request to detain the vessel.

Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said that since Iran had guaranteed in writing that the Grace 1 “was never destined to an EU sanctioned entity… there are no longer reasonable grounds to suspect that the detention of the Vessel is required.”

He added that the court had not received a written detention request from the United States.

US asks Gibraltar to keep Iranian tanker in detention

The US requested that Gibraltar hold in detention an Iranian supertanker at the centre of a stand-off between Tehran and London that sparked tensions in the oil-rich Gulf.

The British overseas territory’s Supreme Court was set to release the Grace 1, when the US Department of Justice applied for the vessel to be seized.

The move was announced by attorney Joseph Triay and delayed the court decision on the vessel’s fate.

Triay did not detail the basis for the US request other than as “mutual legal assistance”.

Gibraltar’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Dudley made clear that were it not for the US move, “the ship would have sailed”.

Wednesday, August 14

Gibraltar to reportedly release Iran tanker on Thursday

The British territory of Gibraltar will on Thursday release an Iranian oil tanker seized by Royal Marines in the Mediterranean in July, The Sun newspaper reported, citing sources close to Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

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Picardo would not apply to renew an order to detain Grace 1, the report said, adding that he is now satisfied that the oil tanker is no longer heading to Syria.

Britain had said the vessel was violating European sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a charge Iran denies.

“There is no reason to keep Grace 1 in Gibraltar a moment longer if we no longer believe it is in breach of sanctions against the Syrian regime,” the newspaper quoted a source close to Picardo as saying.

Tuesday, August 13

Iran, Gibraltar bicker over Grace 1

A Gibraltarian government source denied an Iranian news agency report which said the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 would be leaving the British overseas territory on Tuesday.

British Royal Marines seized the tanker on July 4 off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating EU sanctions by taking oil to Syria, which Tehran denies.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency quoted unidentified Gibraltar authorities as saying the tanker would bee freed on Tuesday evening.

A senior Gibraltarian government source said that report was not correct.

In touch with Britain over seized tanker – Iran

Iran’s port authority said it has been in contact with British authorities as part of efforts to secure the release of its tanker.

A court in Gibraltar is to decide the fate of the ship on Thursday, when an order for its detention lapses.

The deputy head of Iran’s port authority, Jalil Eslami, said in a report by state news agency IRNA that Britain had shown an interest in overcoming the problem and documents had been exchanged.

Gibraltar seeks to ease tanker standoff with Iran

Gibraltar said it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of the Grace 1 tanker.

“We continue to seek to de-escalate issues arising since the lawful detention of Grace 1,” a spokesman for Gibraltar said.

The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night, the spokesman said.

Saturday, August 10

Iran unveils ‘overhauled’ air defence system

Iran unveiled a new air defence system it says is capable of detecting missiles and drones at a range of 400 kilometres (250 miles), ISNA news agency reported.

The “Falagh” is a locally overhauled version of the imported “Gamma” surveillance radar, the semi-official news agency said, in an apparent reference to a Russian-made system of that name.

It had been inoperable due to “sanctions, lack of spare parts and the inability of foreign engineers to carry out repairs”, it added.

Friday, August 9

Iran warns against Israeli involvement in maritime coalition

Any Israeli involvement in a maritime coalition in the Gulf is a “clear threat” to Iran’s national security and it has a right to confront the threat, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Friday, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Israeli media quoted Foreign Minister Israel Katz as telling a closed-door meeting on Tuesday that Israel was part of discussions and intelligence-sharing with a possible US maritime security coalition. Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny the reports.

Thursday, August 8

Iran says US mission will ‘increase insecurity’

Iran’s defence minister said the formation of a US-led flotilla in the Gulf would “increase insecurity” and any Israeli involvement would have “disastrous consequences” for the region.

“The military coalition that America is seeking to form with the excuse of securing maritime transport will only increase insecurity in the region,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami said in a conference call with counterparts from Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

Reacting to reports of Israeli willingness to join the coalition, he said it would be “highly provocative and can have disastrous consequences for the region.”

Calling the US the main source of tensions in the region, Hatami called on Gulf countries to enter “constructive talks” to provide maritime security by themselves.

US asks for transit plans

Washington said that US-flagged commercial vessels should send their transit plans for the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf waters to US and British naval authorities ahead of time. This comes from the US Maritime Administration in an advisory on Iran threats.

“Heightened military activity and increased political tensions in this region continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels,” said the advisory.

Vessels should also alert the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations in the event of any incident or suspicious activity, it added, saying that crews should not forcibly resist any Iranian boarding party.

Tuesday, August 6

Israel to join US mission

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz has said that his country will join the US-led coalition, to protect trade routes in the Persian Gulf, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

According to an Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Katz claimed that he had recently met a “high ranking persona” from the United Arab Emirates, to improve ties between Israel and Arab states.

“Israel is part of the US-led coalition to protect trade routes in the Persian Gulf,” Katz said.

“It is an Israeli interest to stop Iranian entrenchment in the region and strengthen relationship with Gulf countries,” he added.

According to the newspaper, Katz said in a meeting of ministers that Israel has no conflict with Gulf nations.

So far only Britain has officially said it would join the mission to protect merchant ships after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel.

Rouhani says Iran favours talks but US must lift sanctions

Rouhani said on Tuesday that Tehran favours talks with Washington but the US must first lift sanctions it imposed on Iran.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran favours talks and negotiations and, if the US really wants to talk, before anything else it should lift all sanctions,” Rouhani said in remarks aired live on state television.

He added, “peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars”.

Rouhani, speaking at the foreign ministry after meeting with his top diplomat Zarif, said Iran was ready for talks regardless of whether or not the US was party to a landmark nuclear deal.

Monday, August 5

Germany not to join US mission

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday reiterated that Germany would not join a US-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz, adding that Berlin favoured a European mission but warned it was rather difficult to make progress on that.

“At the moment the Britons would rather join an American mission. We won’t do that,” Maas told reporters.

“We want a European mission,” he said, adding that the issue was not off the agenda but it would take time to convince the European Union to carry out such a mission.

The US Embassy in Berlin said on Tuesday the United States had asked Germany to join France and Britain in a mission to protect shipping through the strait and “combat Iranian aggression”.

Sunday, August 4

Iran seizes ‘foreign tanker’ smuggling fuel: state media

Iranian media say the Revolutionary Guard has seized an oil tanker carrying 700,000 liters of “smuggled fuel” in the Persian Gulf.

The semi-official Fars news agency says seven crew members were detained when the ship was seized late Wednesday. It did not provide further details on the vessel or the nationality of the crew.

This would mark the third commercial vessel seized by Iranian forces in recent weeks and the second accused of smuggling fuel. Tensions have soared in the Gulf in recent months as the US has boosted its military presence and oil tankers have been seized by Iranian forces or targeted by unknown saboteurs.

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The tensions are rooted in the US decision last year to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear accord and impose sweeping sanctions on Iran.

Saturday, August 3

Iran will take ‘third step’ to reduce commitments to nuclear deal – Zarif

Iran will take the third step to reduce its commitments to a landmark 2015 nuclear deal within the framework of the pact, Zarif said on Saturday, according to parliamentary news agency ICANA.

“The third step in reducing commitments to (the nuclear deal) will be implemented in the current situation,” he said.

“We have said that if (the deal) is not completely implemented by others then we will also implement it in the same incomplete manner. And, of course, all of our actions have been within the framework of (the deal).”

Thursday, August 1

“Childish” of US to sanction Iran foreign minister – Rouhani

Rouhani accused the US of “childish behaviour” on Thursday over Washington’s sanctioning of Iran’s foreign minister amid rising tensions between the two countries.

“They (Americans) are resorting to childish behaviour … they were claiming every day: ‘we want to talk, with no preconditions’ … and then they sanction the foreign minister,” Rouhani said.

“This means they have lost the power of rational thought.”

Wednesday, July 31

US puts sanctions on Iranian foreign minister Zarif

The US on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Zarif, targeting the country’s top spokesman and potentially hurting chances of diplomatic talks amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Zarif, a critical figure in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, dismissed the action and said it would not affect him.

“Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader and is the regime’s primary spokesperson around the world. The US is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behaviour is completely unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The sanctions against Zarif would block any property or interests he has in the US, but the Iranian foreign minister said he had none.

UAE, Iran hold rare talks in Tehran on maritime security

Officials from the United Arab Emirates and Iran met to discuss maritime security for the first time in six years amid a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf, both countries confirmed on Wednesday.

The meeting is significant because the UAE and Iran are regional rivals. The UAE downgraded ties with Iran in 2016 and has long pushed for more hawkish US policies toward Tehran, including supporting tough American sanctions.

An Emirati official told AP that the meetings focused on issues related to border security and navigation in shared waters, describing the talks as “nothing new” and unrelated to current tensions. The official said there were periodic meetings scheduled between technical teams in both countries and this was the sixth one to take place.

Stoltenberg says no NATO mission requested in Strait of Hormuz

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday there had been no formal request for the military alliance to launch a mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States has proposed stepping up efforts to safeguard the vital oil route at a time of heightened tension between Washington and Tehran.

Germany: European naval mission in Strait of Hormuz worth considering

The German government has not offered any contribution to a US naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz but thinks it is “worth considering” a European mission and is in touch with its partners on that, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

“The government is reticent about the concrete US proposal and so has no made an offer,” the spokeswoman told a news conference.

“For us, it is important to pursue the avenue of diplomacy … and to seek talks with Iran to achieve a de-escalation,” the spokeswoman added.

Iran says it is ready for dialogue if Saudi Arabia is also ready

Iran is ready for dialogue if Saudi Arabia is also ready, Iran’s Zarif said on Wednesday, according to the IRIB news agency.

“If Saudi Arabia is ready for dialogue, we are always ready for dialogue with our neighbours,” Zarif said. “We have never closed the door to dialogue with our neighbours and we will never close the door to dialogue with our neighbours.”

Iran dismisses Pompeo’s ‘hypocritical’ offer to visit

Iran has dismissed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s offer to visit and address the Iranian people as a “hypocritical gesture.”

Addressing Pompeo in remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Zarif said, “You don’t need to come to Iran.” He suggested Pompeo instead grant visas for Iranian reporters to travel to the US and interview him, accusing him of having rejected their requests.

On Monday, Pompeo tweeted, “We aren’t afraid of [Zarif] coming to America where he enjoys the right to speak freely. Are the facts of the [Khamenei] regime so bad he cannot let me do the same thing in Tehran?” he said, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged?”

Iran to further cut nuclear deal commitments – Zarif

Iran is set to further cut its commitments to its international nuclear deal unless its European partners move to protect it from US sanctions by ensuring it can sell oil and receive income, its foreign minister told state TV on Wednesday.

“Under current circumstances and if no action is taken [by the Europeans], we will take the next step [in cutting commitments],” Zarif said, adding that its European partners should guarantee Iran could sell its oil and collect the revenue.

Iran has said it will reduce its commitment to the nuclear accord in stages and may even withdraw from the pact unless the Europeans find ways to shield its economy from the US sanctions.

Iran says Europe ‘obliged’ to let it sell and ship oil

Iran said on Wednesday that European nations still party to the 2015 nuclear deal are “obliged” to allow it to sell and ship oil, amid a standoff with Britain over the seizure of tankers.

“They [the European parties] have set out their commitments and announced them, they [include] the sale of Iran’s oil, the transportation of Iran’s oil, and the return of Iran’s oil income,” said Zarif.

“It is clear that today’s tensions and problems are due to America’s economic terrorism and Europe’s inability to fulfil its commitments which means going along with America’s economic terrorism,” he said, quoted by state media.

UK warship commander says Iran trying ‘to test’ Britain in Gulf

The commander of a British warship accompanying UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with Iran said on Wednesday that Tehran appeared to be testing the Royal Navy’s resolve.

William King, commander of HMS Montrose, said during 27 days patrolling the flashpoint entrance to the Gulf he had had 85 “interactions with Iranian forces,” which had often led to “an exchange of warnings” over radio.

“That gives you some idea of the intensity … [it] is perhaps more than we’ve seen of recent times,” he told BBC Radio in a phone interview from aboard the frigate.

“The Iranians seem to be keen to test our resolve, test our reactions most of the time,” King added.

“They’ll claim that perhaps our presence is illegitimate, even though we’re completely lawfully in international waters.”

“They may also run boats in at speed towards us, to test what warning levels we get to.”

Tuesday, July 30

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