US Commanders Vow to Keep Gulf Waterway Open After Iran Comments

Arriving in Vienna, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said preserving the deal was critical, and that the treaty states would send a "united, determined and strong signal" that they were committed to it despite U.S. President Donald Trump's decision in May to pull out American support.

The bellicose interpretation was virtually universal among United States officials and media outlets, and echoed on Thursday when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards praised Rouhani's statement, and said shipping of oil through the Strait was for "all or none".

But Washington has also warned European allies that they face possible penalties if they violate USA sanctions, which Washington says are aimed at reducing Iranian oil exports to "zero" - a level that would deprive Iran's economy of its principal source of revenue and economic growth.

However, during a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, Rouhani said that the package proposed by European Union leaders "does not meet all our demands", and demanded a "clear action plan from Europe with a timetable so it can compensate for the U.S. exit from the deal". It has been putting pressure on its allies ever since, seeking in particular to make them reduce oil imports from Iran. "We are hopeful that this plan expressed by our president will be implemented if needed", he said.

Under contingencies, the enemies can understand the meaning of Hormuz Strait "either for all, or for none", Jafari stressed.

"The U.S. and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region", Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil transit channel in the world with about one-fifth of global oil consumption passing through each day.

However, hopes of success were clouded after Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday that the European economic measures on the table did not go far enough.

"Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever worldwide law allows", he added. Foreign ministers from the five remaining signatories will discuss the European proposal with Iranian officials in Vienna on Friday.

Iran has warned that it may walk away from the deal unless other signatories "guarantee" that it will continue to benefit.

Trump also said he would reinstate sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

Iranians have complained that the hoped-for rise in foreign investment and trade after the deal has not materialized.

Addressing a group of veteran IRGC forces, General Jaafari said the great achievements made during Iran-Iraq eight years of sacred defense should be regarded as a memorable experience for all eras and in our efforts to address national crises and it will enable us to overcome big challenges. The proposed package "only included some general promises like previous European Union statements", Rouhani said.

  • Rogelio Becker