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Iran vows to retaliate with gas sanctions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ayatollah Khamenei says Iran can cut back on gas supplies in response to Europe’s sanctions.

With sanctions being used as a political weapon of choice by the West, Iran is turning the tables on Europe, pledging to withhold on gas supplies.

The pledge made by Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all major decisions, comes at a crucial time.

Iran is heading to a decisive round of nuclear negotiations, with sanctions being at the heart of contention.

“If sanctions are supposed to be the way, it is the Iranian nation which will sanction them (Europe) in the future,” Ayatollah Khamenei has said.

“The hapless Europe needs gas and based on existing explorations, we possess the biggest share of the world’s gas reserves,” he added. 

Political analysts say Ayatollah Khamenei’s statements serve as a warning to the West, signaling that Iran will not accept any dictate in the talks.

Europe and the US have been using the weapon of sanctions to twist Iran’s arm over its nuclear program.  

Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Iran holds the world’s largest oil and gas reserves combined and when the time comes we will sanction them and the Islamic Republic is capable of doing that.”

According to statistical energy reviews, Iran holds the world’s largest proven natural gas reserves, at 33.8 trillion cubic meters or 18.2% of the total proven reserves.

The country’s proven oil deposit is estimated 157 billion barrels, the fourth-biggest after Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and, Canada.

Alternative to Russian gas

Europe relies on Russia for gas supplies but rising tensions over the Ukraine conflict have exposed the Europeans to a challenging quandary for energy security.
Emerging markets in Asia and their insatiable thirst for energy meanwhile leave Europe with few options to cut itself off Russia’s apron strings for gas.

Reuters has reported that the European Union was “quietly increasing the urgency of a plan to import natural gas from Iran”, citing the country “far towards the top of our priorities for mid-term measures”.

Internal EU energy security documents seen by Reuters also describe plans to tap new non-European gas import sources in central Asia, including Iran.

Weapon of sanctions

The Europeans, however, have clipped their wings with their own sanctions and those by the US.

Just a week ago, EU governments agreed to put the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) back on the list of sanctioned firms.

The decision came even after the EU’s second highest court ruled last July that there were no grounds to blacklist the NITC.

It also came in the midst of crucial talks between Iran and the West to find a final solution to nuclear differences between them.

"I believe that if we allow them to dictate to us on the nuclear issue, they will still keep the sanctions in place because what they are against is the very foundation of our revolution," Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday.

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