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US oil sanctions principally illegal, do not attach any value to it: Iran

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran Apr 22, 2019, 09.44 PM (IST)

Iran today said US oil sanctions were "illegal" after the Trump administration informed that it would stop all exemptions starting May to countries which traded with Tehran.

"Since the sanctions in question are principally illegal, the Islamic Republic of Iran did not and does not attach any value or credibility to the waivers given to the sanctions," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iranian media reported that commander of the Revolutionary Guards' said the country would close the Hormuz Strait if Tehran is barred from exporting oil.

"According to international law, the Strait of Hormuz is a marine passageway and if we are barred from using it, we will shut it down," the semi-official news agency Fars quoted General Alireza Tangsiri as saying on Monday.

"In case of any threat, we will have not even an iota of doubt to protect and defend the Iranian waters," Tangsiri added.

Iran had earlier threatened to stop ships passing through Strait of Hormuz, a major channel in the Gulf, if the US tried to halt its oil exports. Meanwhile, China said it opposes "unilateral" US sanctions against Iran.

Chinese ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China's bilateral cooperation with Iran was in accordance with the law. Eight counties were initially given six-month reprieves from unilateral US sanctions on Iran.

Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - have already heavily reduced their purchases from Iran. The United States said Monday it would start imposing sanctions on countries such as India, China and Turkey that buy Iranian oil.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that the United States would punish countries that buy Iranian oil after May 2nd.

"We've made clear -- if you don't abide by this, there will be sanctions," Pompeo told reporters. "We intend to enforce the sanctions."