Iran is smuggling crude oil in violation of the U.S. sanctions and this needs to stop, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, urging the international community to do the stopping, the Times of Israel reports.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at a naval base in Haifa, the Prime Minister said “Iran is trying to bypass the sanctions on it through the covert smuggling of petroleum via the sea,” adding “As these attempts expand, the navy will have a more important role in efforts to block these Iranian actions.”
The latter part of this statement is particularly interesting since the Israeli navy has not traditionally had any presence in the Persian Gulf.
The Israeli Prime Minister also called on the international community to “halt, by any means, Iran’s attempts to bypass the sanctions via the sea.”
However most of what we usually mean by the international community is still part of the Iran nuclear deal: the UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China. None of these countries wants to antagonize Iran or cut off relations with it, which makes Neanyahu’s calls for halting Iran’s oil exports devoid of actual meaning.
Last month, Iran carried out a large-scale military drill in the Persian Gulf in the latest muscle-flexing exercise as the United States—which unlike Israel has a presence in the Gulf—steps up the sanction pressure on Tehran.
Several Tehran officials have threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz if the country’s oil exports are reduced to zero, which has prompted the U.S. to strengthen its presence in the Gulf. So far, the threats have not had consequences, with the likelihood of Iran’s oil exports going down to zero roughly equal to the likelihood of any other power present in the Gulf letting it close off the world’s top oil chokepoint.