Hassan Rouhani . Picture: REUTERS
Hassan Rouhani . Picture: REUTERS


Tehran - Iran will continue to export oil despite US sanctions, which are part of a psychological war doomed to failure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says.

By reimposing sanctions on Opec's third biggest crude producer, Washington wants to force Tehran to drop its ballistic missile programmes, further curb its nuclear work and limit its support for proxy militias from Syria to Lebanon and Yemen.

“We will not yield to this pressure, which is part of the psychological war launched against Iran,” Rouhani said in a speech in the city of Khoy, broadcast live on state television.

“They have failed to stop our oil exports. We will keep exporting it. Your regional policies have failed and you blame Iran for that failure from Afghanistan to Yemen and Syria,” he added, to chants of “Death to America!”.

Rouhani said Washington lacked the necessary international support for its sanctions, and noted that it had granted temporary waivers to eight major buyers of Iranian oil.

“America is isolated now. Iran is supported by many countries. Except for the Zionist regime (Israel) and some countries in the region, no other country backs America's pressure on Iran,” he said.

The EU, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, participants with the US in the 2015 deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, have been trying to find ways to circumvent the US limitations.

In particular, the EU has been trying to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for nondollar trade with Iran. But this has not stopped foreign businesses ranging from oil companies and trading houses to firms leaving Iran for fear of incurring US penalties.

Iran has threatened to exit the deal if its economic benefits are not preserved, but foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said it remained “hopeful that the Europeans can save the deal”.

The special purpose vehicle was conceived as a clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods, circumventing the US sanctions, which are based on the global use of the dollar for oil trade.

The EU wanted to have the special purpose vehicle set up by November, but no country has offered to host it, six diplomats told Reuters last week.

“We expect EU to implement the special purpose vehicle as soon as possible,” Qasemi said. “Iran adheres to its commitments as long as other signatories honour theirs.”

Iran’s deputy oil minister Amirhossein Zamaninia said “France might host the special purpose vehicle”, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Monday.

The French foreign ministry declined to comment. The finance ministry has said that all options are on the table for the special purpose vehicle and that no decisions had been taken.

Washington has warned that European banks and firms who engage in the special purpose vehicle will be at risk from the reimposed US sanctions.