"The ships are invited to go to other ports, including Chabahar and Shahid Rajee, due to the large volume of loading in the Bandar Imam Khomeini port. We have no difficulties with unloading ships over the US sanctions. At the moment, Bandar Imam Khomeini port's capacity is three million tonnes. In contrast, 24 million tonnes of goods were loaded in the first half of this year", Deris told Iranian state broadcaster IRINN in an interview.
Earlier in the week, media reported that more than 20 cargo ships carrying about one million tonnes of grain were stuck in Iranian ports over problems with import payments caused by the US sanctions against Tehran. The cargo is reportedly held up in the ports of Bandar Imam Khomeini and Bandar Abbas.
In July, Iran seized the UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker in the strait over an alleged breach of international maritime regulations. The move came two weeks after Iran's own Grace 1 oil tanker had been seized by UK marines near Gibraltar over an alleged violation of EU sanctions against Syria. Both vessels have been released.
The United States has ratcheted up sanctions on Iran since last year as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign, targeting the pillars of the Iranian economy. In late September, the United States imposed another round of sanctions on Iran, including on the Central Bank, following recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, for which the United States holds Iran responsible. Meanwhile, Iran has refuted these accusations.
In 2018, the United States abandoned its conciliatory policy on Iran, withdrawing from the JCPOA and hitting Iranian petroleum industries with sanctions, which led to a severe deterioration of bilateral relations, especially in the Persian Gulf and the Hormuz Strait, viewed by Iran as its zones of influence. The Iranian leadership has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz multiple times in retaliation to US sanctions.