Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a graduation ceremony of navy cadets in Haifa on March 6 that Israeli naval forces needed to block oil cargoes that Iran was trying to “covertly” ship over maritime routes to “circumvent” US sanctions on its energy sector.
Iran’s permanent mission to the UN asserted in a letter to the UNSC on Tuesday that Netanyahu’s remarks amounted to an open threat of using of force in clear violation of the United Nations Charter.
The letter said Iran would mount a swift response to defend itself against any hostile moves, a right enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter.
The letter said Netanyahu was trying to imply that Iran’s oil industry was subjected to a “universal” ban while no such sanctions ever existed against Tehran, not even in the the council’s now-canceled resolutions.
US President Donald Trump re-imposed what he called “toughest ever” sanctions on Iran’s energy industry last year, after abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers—the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.
Following the exit from the landmark agreement, Trump said he would maintain the economic pressure to the point that Iran’s oil exports would hit zero.
However, that strategy failed when major purchasers of Iranian energy failed to find viable replacement, forcing Washington to issue longtime waivers.
Defying Trump, the European Union has also mobilized to protect the deal as well as its business ties against US threats.
In the letter, the Iranian mission said Netanyahu’s remarks ran against the council’s will and undermined UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal and backed the removal of all nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, including those targeting the shipments of Iranian oil and related products.
It urged the council to condemn Netanyahu’s irresponsible statements and said there was an urgent need to stop the Zionist regime’s destabilizing activities.
Es’haq Al-e Habib, the Iranian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations said Tehran had asked the UNSC to register the letter as an official document.
During his remarks, Netanyahu also urged the international community “to stop Iran’s attempts to circumvent the sanctions by sea, and of course, by any (other) means.”
The threat drew harsh reactions from Iranian officials, with Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami vowing a “firm” response to any moves by the Israeli navy in blocking Iran’s oil.
“The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have the necessary capability to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” he said, noting that Tehran viewed such moves as “piracy.”