Iran has reiterated their threat to retaliate if the United States carries through on its promise to block all Iranian oil from the world market. This has been a threat that US president Donald Trump has made on more than one occasion. Not only would this be completely devastating for the Iranian economy, but it would be highly illegal. The US has no authority to block any waterways not under their direct control, inside their own territory. Taking such an action would speak volumes about the criminal nature of the US Empire and its goals.
“America should know that we are selling our oil and will continue to sell our oil and they are not able to stop our oil exports,” he said. He went on to warn that“if one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”
Each time this threat is made, the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has threatened to retaliate. If any attempt is made to stop Iranian oil tankers from crossing the Persian Gulf, Iran will shut it down completely too all oil shipments. According to international law, Iran does have the legal authority to do so. All shipments must pass within 12 miles of the coast of Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. This places them in the territorial waters of the Islamic Republic. Iran seems intent upon carrying out this threat if their oil shipments are blocked by the US.
The US has responded negatively to the threat. National Security Advisor John Bolton said in August that such a claim by Iran was a “bluff.” He also said that it would be a serious mistake and something that the US would take seriously.
This whole situation has been unfolding as a result of the US unlawful withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Earlier this year, president Trump declared that Iran was in violation of the agreement while citing no evidence whatsoever. Israel claimed to have hundreds of documents proving the allegations, but they were dismissed by the international community and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – both of whom have certified that Iran has always remained in compliance. IAEA inspectors have verified 16 times via investigations that Iran has fulfilled their end of the agreement. The alleged evidence presented by Israel was dismissed as old documents and information from before the signing of the agreement that was already known about. Once the US withdrew they reintroduced the previous sanctions on Iran.
Iran has threatened to leave the agreement as well citing the hostile actions of the US. European signatories to the agreement have attempted to compensate Iran for the loss of the US cooperation in the matter. Their efforts thus far have not been successful. Iran is threatening to begin enriching uranium to weapons grade if the US does not return to the agreement. In addition, Iran is developing increasingly sophisticated missile technology in preparation for a possible invasion by the US, or one of its proxies in the region, such as Israel.
It seems clear that the goal of the US nuclear agreement was to halt the economic development of Iran. This tactic has failed given the growth of the economy since 2015. The goal now is to withdraw from the agreement and place tighter sanctions on them with the hopes of causing an economic collapse of the country, and carrying out a “regime change” strategy. This far the tactic has caused significant damage to the Iranian currency and several key industries. However, they have not been successful in causing instability within Iranian society.
US imperialism is maintaining pressure on Iran in the hopes of converting them into a client state under their control. Thus far, Iranian resistance to US pressure has allowed them to maintain their independence and dignity.