18:33 GMT25 January 2021
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    Tehran has repeatedly criticised the US policy of attempting to bring its energy exports down "to zero," with Washington threatening to sanction any country that buys energy supplies from Iran.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has issued a tweet directed at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, telling him to "stop nagging" about Iran's energy exports and insisting that Iran will sell its oil "to any and all buyers," whether Washington likes it or not.

    Zarif pointed to previous attempts by the US to stop Iranian progress in various areas, from efforts to deprive the country of its defence capability via an arms embargo to the US denial of nuclear fuel for Iran's peaceful nuclear energy endeavours. In both cases, Zarif said, Iran succeeded, leading the US to "complain."

    On Friday, Pompeo accused Zarif of being untrustworthy after saying that the US had "reliable information" that the Adrian Darya 1 tanker was heading to Syria after being released by Gibraltar authorities earlier this month.

    Pompeo claimed that the Iranian foreign minister had "guaranteed to the UK" that the tanker would not head to Syria. However, on August 16, a day after the Adrian Darya 1's release, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tehran had not given any country any "guarantees" that its tanker would not head to Syria. Iran maintains that it has a right to engage in oil trade with any country it sees fit.

    On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources, that diplomats from the European Union had shown support for a French initiative to allow Iran to export oil in exchange for Tehran's full compliance with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. French President Emmanuel Macron had presented US President Donald Trump with the plan, aimed at reducing tensions between Washington and Tehran, at the recent G7 summit, with the initiative calling on the US to reduce pressure on Iranian oil exports.

    The US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018, slapping Iran with a series of tough energy and banking-related restrictions. In May 2019, the US scrapped sanctions waivers on major traditional importers of Iranian oil, including China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, and Taiwan. Apart from China, which has continued its crude imports, albeit at a reduced level, most of Iran's other major traditional partners folded under US pressure.

    Earlier Saturday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi announced that the US had showed "some flexibility in the issue of granting permits to sell Iranian oil." The White House has yet to comment on the situation.

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