United States plan to end Iranian oil exports 'a fantasy' - Rouhani

Iranian Vice President Jahangiri speaks during a news conference after a meeting with Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric in Najaf

Iran to allow private sector to export oil, beat US sanctions

"The Americans claim that they want to completely block Iran's oil exports to zero but they don't understand what they are saying because it does not make sense that Iran's oil can not be exported, while region's oil is exported", Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on a visit to Switzerland while addressing a group of Iranian living in Switzerland on Monday evening.

The arrests came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani embarked on a tour of Europe.

He did not elaborate, and his comments could be open to interpretation. However, when asked whether he meant to make a threat, Rouhani declined to provide a clarification. Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action against Iran.

Rouhani added that if Iran's crude oil exports were threatened, the rest of the Mideast's would be as well.

Elsewhere, Rouhani called on Iranians everywhere to unite against the enemies' plots and help the development of the country, saying "if we are, the enemy will hatch more plots and it is our duty to work more for our people's welfare and development". The United States will never be able to cut Iran's oil revenues".

Iran had been pushing hard for oil producers to hold output steady as USA sanctions are expected to hit its exports.

Notable countries that import Iranian crude include Turkey, India, China and South Korea.

Rouhani said the new US pressure would never succeed.

But actually replacing more than 2 million barrels a day of Iranian crude exports won't be easy.

The president made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian expats in Austria. Rouhani, who's facing intense pressure from hardline conservatives at home who accuse him of being naïve for ever trusting the USA, would be left with little incentive to remain in the deal and in compliance with its terms and conditions.

Japanese officials said last week, after US diplomats pressed the country to cut back its purchases, that they were still deliberating.

"China is always opposed to unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction", Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters when asked about cooperating with Washington, adding that "China and Iran are friendly countries".

On Monday, he said Iran expects European nations to come up with a package to save the deal in the "coming days".

"For now, that's the plan", an European Union source said. The negotiations will focus on how to keep the deal alive.

The EU's foreign service, the EEAS, was not immediately available for comment on the meeting.

After ripping up the Iran nuclear deal in May, the Trump Administration is fanning out across the globe to rally support for a return to economy-crippling sanctions against Tehran.

But so far it has proven hard to offset the impact of continued USA sanctions, with European firms reluctant to risk far-reaching US financial penalties to do business in Iran. Iran's oil exports recently hit their highest point, 2.7 million barrels per day, since worldwide sanctions were lifted January 2016. On Saturday, Trump wrote on Twitter that he had received assurances from King Salman of Saudi Arabia that the kingdom will increase oil production, "maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels" in response to turmoil in Iran and Venezuela.

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