Iranian DM Warns US of Retaliation over Oil Theft in Due Time
TEHRAN (FNA)- Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani strongly condemned the US act of piracy and seizure of Iranian oil, warning that Tehran won’t let the illegal move go unpunished.
The warning comes after the United States Department of Justice confirmed that Washington had confiscated cargo containing nearly one million barrels of Iranian oil.
American oil companies had for months resisted the temptation of touching the tanker for fear of Iranian retaliation in the Persian Gulf waters. Still, the American Navy later unloaded the tanker of stolen Iranian oil off the Texas port, brushing off warnings from Tehran.
Censuring the US decision to offload Iranian oil cargo, Brig. Gen. Ashtiani stressed that Tehran is fully capable of acting in kind in response to Washington's stealing of its crude oil.
“This is an act of piracy by the United States, which is not acceptable across the world whatsoever,” he told ISNA news agency.
The minister warned that if Washington goes ahead with stealing the Iranian oil cargo, Tehran "will definitely retaliate", and can react on "a larger scale".
“But for now, we have limited our action to the discussions we are engaged in,” he said, stressing that Iran expects the Americans to stop such actions.
“We are located in a strategic and very important region. The energy transmission lines pass through this region, and we have control over these lines. Therefore, it is possible for us to take countermeasures against the US on a larger scale,” the defense official added.
Iranian officials have cautioned the US that the era of hit-and-run has come to an end, stressing that Tehran will not stand "idly" by in relation to any violation of the nation’s rights.
They said acts of trespassing on tankers carrying Iranian oil are "clear example of piracy", reminding the parties that have plans to confiscate Iran’s oil to review the history of Tehran’s actions in similar cases.
Brig. Gen. Ashtiani was echoing remarks by Spokesman of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif whoe has recently warned that Tehran will definitely respond in kind to any act of aggression by the US in West Asia.
Brig. Gen. Sharif said in early August Tehran is now powerful enough to confiscate American ships if the US military seize Iranian vessels.
“Iran has reached such a high degree of power and capability that can respond in kind to any US action and mischief [in the region],” he stressed.
The spokesperson added that regional countries have “correctly understood that Iran is turning into a big power in the region".
“In any direct battle between Iran and the United States during recent years, regional countries have seen the weakness of America and the power of the Islamic Republic, and have understood that the security of the Persian Gulf must be established by its own littoral countries,” he continued.
His remarks came after the US Naval Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that the US Navy has deployed more than 3,000 sailors and Marine forces to West Asia under the pretext of protecting ships and vessels crossing the main waterways in the strategic region.
The deployment brought additional aircraft and helicopters to join a dozen US F-35s, as well as F-16 and A-10 aircraft and Navy guided-missile destroyers that had already arrived in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has repeatedly condemned the US for “warmongering” and escalating tensions with its regular military deployments in West Asia.
In recent years, Iranian naval forces have impounded several ships off the country’s Southern coast for their breaches of shipping safety law, with the US claiming that the moves are “illegal” and “endanger” shipping safety.
Tehran dismisses the claims as baseless, stressing the vessel seizures are in fact meant to consolidate the maritime law.
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri has recently stated that his forces have so far seized 35 foreign vessels due to the violation of maritime law.
“Iran does not seize ships for no reason. For years, the Persian Gulf has become a safe route, and the Strait of Hormuz is under our surveillance,” he said in mid-May.
Iran says the US is the primary source of insecurity in West Asia and Washington remains responsible for the instability in the region as long as its wrong and crisis-making policies are not rectified. Tehran has repeatedly stressed that the responsibility to ensure the Persian Gulf security and stability lies with the regional states without a need for foreign naval forces.
They call on Washington to leave the area as soon as possible “so that this sensitive region becomes safer". Tehran has cautioned that the presence of foreign naval vessels in the Persian Gulf poses a serious threat to its ecosystem and marine life.
Iranian military officials say the Iranian Army and the IRGC Navies have brought stability and safety to the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. The Iranian naval forces have succeeded in escorting and protecting almost 5,000 oil tankers and commercial ships in international waters since 2008, according to Iranian officials.
They have declared the Iranian naval forces' full preparedness to fight off any plot of enemies against Tehran at its birth, stressing that the country's armed forces will teach a painful lesson to foes in case they launch any act of aggression against the country.
Tehran has cautioned that any plan aimed at increasing US presence in the Middle East will only foment insecurity and instability and spread terrorism, asking the neighboring countries to be extremely vigilant about any US-Israeli plan that clearly aims to disturb the stability and order of the region.
Iranian officials have underlined the necessity for the settlement of the crises and problems in the region through collective cooperation among the regional states, and underscored that the presence of foreigners is harmful.