The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran with the design of impeding Iran’s economy in order to pressure Tehran to accept tighter restrictions on its nuclear program. US officials have stated that they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero in a bid to curb the Islamic Republic’s missile programme and regional influence.
Iran had been recently testing medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple warheads, which is a violation of the agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran’s earlier launches of Zolfaqar and Qiam short-range ballistic missiles on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 are believed to be inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran’s military has cited 2,000 km as the current missile range. According to the military report, U.S. bases in Afghanistan, the UAE, and Qatar, plus U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf, were within range. The U.S. and the whole world feel that this “programme poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide and to the United States.”
Despite all the international hue and cry and the impending sanctions, Iran is still insisting that its missile program is purely defensive. Following the Dec 1 missile launch, The Trump administration is urging Europe to impose tough new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program.
According to Brigadier- General Abolfazl Shekarchi, the spokesman for Iran’s armed forces, the recent missile launch is outside the framework of (nuclear) negotiations and part of Iran’s national security. Shekarchi stated that (they) will not ask any country’s permission for developing and testing missiles.
Apart from the ballistic missile test, the U.S. has also condemned Iran’s continued association with Shia militants and involvement in countries like Iraq and Syria. This spat between the U.S and Iran and the ensuing sanctions is nothing new. The United States led international efforts to use sanctions to regulate the nuclear weapon policies of Iran have been in place since 1979.
In response to the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian President, remarked on a nationally televised event that “If someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf”
Rouhani has threatened to cut off oil supply from the Strait of Hormuz if the US economic sanctions cut off Iranian oil exports. This threat cannot be dismissed lightly. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most strategically important oil transit chokepoint. It also happens to be the only passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean.
Many Iranian officials welcomed his inflammatory statements. Rouhani had made similar comments last July. Ismail Kowsari, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, was quoted as saying that Tehran would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States banned Iranian oil sales. General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s powerful Quds Force has also hailed Rouhani’s tough stance against the U.S. oil sanctions.
UN Reaction To Iran’s Missile Launch
The U.N. Security Council discussed Iran’s apparent violation of 2015 resolution behind closed doors on Tuesday, without taking any action.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called on the U.N.’s most powerful body to unanimously condemn the “provocative missile test” on Dec. 1, calling it “dangerous and concerning, but not surprising.”
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce said, “If you wanted to demonstrate to the international community that you were a responsible member of it and you were genuinely interested in regional peace and security, these are not the sorts of missiles you would be test launching.”
France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said his government has condemned the Dec. 1 launch as “inconsistent” with the 2015 resolution. Delattre has called on Iran to immediately halt all activity related to ballistic missiles “designed to be able to carry nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”
What does this mean to India?
Prime Minister Modi is all set to raise India’s concerns over the volatility of oil prices at the G-20 summit. Ahmed Al Banna, UAE envoy has assured that “the UAE and Saudi Arabia have always stood very strongly and supplied and covered any shortage of oil or fuel concerns of India.
Even though fuel prices are determined by global markets and demand, Al Banna expressed his confidence that India would not have to worry about supplies even after a 180-day sanctions waiver by the US on Iran oil imports ceases.
Incidentally, the U.S. is now threatening to slap sanctions on India for moving ahead with its defense ties with Russia.