20:18 GMT22 February 2020
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    The temporary US sanctions exemptions granted to eight major importers of Iranian crude oil expire on Thursday, with Iranian officials brushing off US threats to bring their energy exports down "to zero" and warning that the use of oil sanctions could lead to further volatility in global energy markets.

    Iran must counter the enemy's "battle formation" and pressures ranging from economic warfare to political pressure and intelligence-gathering efforts by taking appropriate measures in response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has indicated.

    "The US and the Zionism are plotting and acting [against Iran] in all areas," Khamenei said, speaking to teachers in Tehran on Wednesday on the eve of National Teachers Day, the Tasnim News Agency has reported

    "In the face of the enemy's battle formation against the Iranian nation, the nation should take up battle formation likewise," he stressed.

    According to Khamenei, President Donald Trump's hostile behaviour toward Iran is not new, but rather a continuation in the open of the policies of previous administrations.

    "America and [Israel] are planning and making moves in all areas. Of course, this is not unique to the current American administration. Previous administrations have also done the same things with velvet gloves. But the current president…has taken off these gloves and everyone can see what they have hidden underneath," Khamenei said.

    According to the supreme leader, all enemy plots against Iran will eventually backfire, and young Iranians will live to "witness the defeat of America and Zionism as well as the ultimate dignity and grandeur of the Iranian nation."

    Pardis petrochemical complex facilities in Assalouyeh on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, Iran, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday his country will continue exporting crude oil despite U.S. efforts to stop it through sanctions
    © AP Photo / Iranian Presidency Office
    Long-standing tense relations between Iran and the United States took a turn for the worse in May 2018, after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Since then, the US has slapped Iran with multiple rounds of tough sanctions, including energy restrictions aimed at bringing Iran's oil exports down "to zero" to cripple the country's economy.

    In November 2018, Washington provided eight major importers of Iranian oil, including China, India, South Korea, Japan, Greece and Italy, with temporary waivers exempting them from US sanctions. The wavers expired on Thursday, with the administration giving no indication of any plans to extend them.

    Iran has warned that any direct effort by the US or any other country to stop the country from exporting its oil could lead to a closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway through which about 20 per cent of the world's total oil supplies pass.

    On Wednesday, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said that any US bid to cut Iran's oil exports to nothing would be a "pious hope," adding that any country which uses oil "as a political tool should accept its repercussions as well." According to the minister, the present US efforts against Iran and Venezuela, two founding members of OPEC, may lead to the organisation's disintegration.


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    pressure, plot, tensions, sanctions, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, Iran, Israel, United States
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