India Hopes US Will Extend Waiver of Sanctions Imposed on Iranian Oil

Iran warns Israel of 'firm response' if it acts against oil

Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Iran considers such actions against its oil sales "piracy", warning Tel Aviv that it will face a tough response if it approaches Iran's oil tankers.

The United States introduced sanctions aimed at crippling Iran's oil revenue-dependent economy in November but gave a six-month waiver to eight nations, including India, which allowed them to import some Iranian oil.

U.S. sanctions against Iran were reinstated past year after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which provided for the relief of economic sanctions against Tehran in return for Iran's pledge to keep its nuclear program peaceful.

According to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Islamic Republic resorted to clandestine measures to commercialize fuel.

Hatami interpreted Netanyahu's comments as a threat to engage in "international piracy" and vowed Iranian forces will "secure the security of shipping lines and worldwide shipping lanes for ourselves and all those who are in our area of responsibility". India's optimism stems from a series of meetings following a reduction in oil imports from Iran, officials indicated.

Iran has expanded its naval operations over the past few years, including missions to the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, where the Iranian navy claims to have repelled a bona fide pirate attack last week.

At least two other tankers registered to Panama - the Sarak and the Sobar - that were not previously considered part of Tehran's fleet - have been re-flagged to Iran this year.

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The Trump administration has used the threat of insurance liabilities to pressure countries into blocking Iranian ships.

He claimed that Iran is trying to "covertly" ship fuel over maritime routes to "circumvent" the US sanctions.

To give time to importers to find alternatives and prevent a jump in oil prices, the USA granted Iran's main oil buyers waivers to sanctions on the condition they buy less in the future.

Mike Salthouse, with the International Group https://www.igpandi.org, which represents companies that insure about 90 percent of the world's commercial shipping, said Western insurers were very unlikely to do business with Iranian shipping companies.

In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook described Iran's tanker sector as a "floating liability", saying the US sanctions would bar them from global insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.

Reutersreported on Wednesday that Iran's oil tanker fleet is aging and US sanctions are making it hard for Tehran to maintain or replace the ships.

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