|The News Line: Feature
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
US SANCTIONS ON IRAN HAVE FAILED says Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
IRAN’S President Hassan Rouhani says, despite all the pressure exerted on the Iranian nation by the United States – especially through the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions – Iranians remain steadfast and resistant and continue to progress.
|Gas platforms in the South Pars gas field
Rouhani made the remarks while addressing the inaugural ceremony for phases 13, 22, 23, and 24 of the huge South Pars gas field in the southern coastal city of Kangan on Sunday. The inauguration of the new phases of Iran’s South Pars gas field is a clear sign of the failure of US sanctions against the country’s energy sector, which were mainly meant to curtail Iran’s production of oil and gas as its main revenue sources.
‘The Americans did not want us to inaugurate any important projects during the current year, but we made every project operational and on schedule,’ Rouhani said.
‘Today is a very auspicious day for the Iranian nation, which has dealt strong blows to its enemies, because they thought that, by imposing sanctions, they would be able to stop all our plans and advances,’ Rouhani added.
In May last year, US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015, and decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.
Under the JCPOA deal, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions. However, the Trump administration announced the re-imposition of the ‘toughest’ sanctions ever against Iran’s banking and energy sectors with the aim of cutting off the country’s oil sales and crucial exports.
Rouhani said: ‘Enemies thought that they would mount such economic pressure on the Iranian people that they would bend the knee to the superpowers. ‘However, this great and history-making nation has demonstrated its steadfastness and resistance at all junctures of its history, especially during the current year.’
Noting that ‘the sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran are sanctions against humanity,’ Iran’s chief executive emphasised that what the US is doing against Iran is a crime against humanity, but ‘America will never achieve its goals.’
‘Before becoming an economic war, sanctions are a psychological war, through which America is trying to make the Iranians pessimistic about their future … and make them think that as time goes by, their conditions will deteriorate,’ Rouhani said.
But production of gasoline in Iran has been doubled since the inauguration of his administration, Rouhani said, ‘During recent rounds of sanctions, we saw that the United States did not even think about imposing gasoline sanctions on Iran, because it knew that Iran has become self-sufficient in gasoline production. Today, we are also self-sufficient in diesel fuel and gas.’
In a TV interview back in February, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh also confirmed Iran has become self-sufficient in gasoline production despite US sanctions on its energy sector. His remarks came after President Rouhani inaugurated the third phase of a gas condensate plant, known as the Persian Gulf Star Refinery, in the southern city of Bandar Abbas.
The gas condensate plant supplies various petroleum products, including diesel fuel, gasoline, hydrogen, sulfur and jet fuel, meaning that the Islamic Republic has become self-sufficient in gasoline production. ‘Fortunately, we do not need to import gasoline anymore. We have reached self-sufficiency. We can export our produced gasoline, but have no export plans,’ Zangeneh said.
• Iran’s Navy has dispatched its 61st naval group, comprising a destroyer and a logistical vessel, on a mission to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to ensure the security of the shipping routes used by Iranian vessels.
Rear Admiral Afshin Tashak, the commander of the Navy’s Southern Fleet, told IRNA on Sunday that the fleet was comprised of the Navy’s Sabalan destroyer and the Bandar Abbas logistical vessel and had set sail from the country’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on Saturday.
‘The naval group is on a mission to provide security for the routes used by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) in the area of the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait,’ he said.
The strait, which lies at the mouth of the Red Sea, connects it to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The vessels sailing through the strait and the body of water can next enter the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. Also on Saturday, the Navy’s 60th naval group consisting, of two logistical vessels, docked at the country’s southern port of Bushehr after completing a 5,600-nautical-mile mission.
Over the past decade, the Navy’s groups have escorted 6,000 oil tankers in international waters, the commander said. The missions, he added, were undertaken in line with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s remarks that the Navy is a strategic force and should expand its operating range, and confront piracy.
The 61st such mission began less than two weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that the Israeli regime’s navy could take action against Iranian oil shipments. Iran’s Defence Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami reacted to Netanyahu’s remarks by saying that Iran would view any Israeli naval action against its oil shipments as ‘piracy,’ warning: ‘A firm response awaits Israel if it targets Iran oil shipments.’
Last November, Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, had also warned global shipping and insurance industries that insuring Iranian tankers would incur penalties under Washington’s unilateral sanctions against Tehran.
In late October last year, a few days before the US was about to bring Iran’s energy sector under sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani assured the Iranian nation of the government’s resolve to stand up to US threats. He emphasised that his team would do all in its power to resolve the economic problems caused by American pressure.
• The commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces says they have been boosted in a major overhaul. Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari said that over the previous year, Iranian army divisions have undergone ‘structural changes.’
He said the infantry brigades had been modified to become more agile. Similarly, rapid action forces, mobile, and mechanised brigades had also been ‘reorganised,’ and rocket units had also experienced changes.
Heydari told Iranian press agency IRNA last Sunday: ‘Today, we can say that the Army’s Ground Forces have turned into a rapid action, mobile, and offensive force.
‘Through the monumental transformation that has taken place in the structure and organisation of the Ground Forces’ units, all brigades ... are fully prepared to deal with any circumstances.’
In late January, the forces’ finished two-days of massive military manoeuvres to practice ‘offensive’ tactics. Brigadier General Heydari says Iran is prepared to adopt offensive military tactics in order to protect its interests while generally adhering to its broad defense doctrine.
The ‘offensive’ component was inaugurated in the country’s defensive strategy for the first time last December, when the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) held the main and final stage of the massive exercises in the Persian Gulf.
Heydari also said that the Iranian military was more powerful than ever in the face of any potential threat. ‘We are more prepared than at any other time and have updated all of our equipment against the world’s latest technologies,’ the commander said. Next month, the commander announced, the Army would be unveiling a large batch of achievements in the telecommunication and drone sectors.
The Ground Forces, he added, have reached high levels of self-sufficiency by indigenously producing all of the equipment they need, including tank transporters, radars, long-range cameras, and telecommunication bunkers.
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