LONDON (Reuters) - Iran will not allow any country replace its oil sales in the global market, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, after the United States told importers to halt Iranian purchases from May.
Washington has decided not to renew its exemptions from U.S. sanctions against Iran that it granted last year to buyers of Iranian oil.
A senior U.S. administration official said on Monday that President Donald Trump was confident Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would fill any gap left in the oil market.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not allow any country to replace Iran in the oil market. The United States and those countries will be responsible for any consequences,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.
The spokesman, whose comments were reported by Fars news agency, condemned Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and Bahrain for welcoming U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
Mousavi called U.S. sanctions “illegal, cruel and driven by bullying” and said “We are hopeful that those buyers of Iranian oil who stood against this unilateral move in their comments, also take action.”
China, Iran’s largest crude oil customer, formally complained this week to the United States over its decision to end waivers on sanctions on Iranian oil imports.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Thursday that China had “not yet” asked for more oil after the United States decided to end its waivers that had allowed Beijing to keep buying from Tehran.
After the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports in November, it initially allowed the eight biggest buyers of Iranian oil to keep purchasing limited imports for six months until April.
Brent crude oil on Thursday rose above $75 per barrel for the first time in 2019 in the wake of tightening sanctions on Iran, while gains in U.S. prices were crimped by a surge in U.S. supply.
Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by Gareth Jones and Edmund Blair