Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference at the Chancellery in Vienna, Austria July 4, 2018. Image Credit: Reuters

Tehran, Vienna: The commander of the Al Quds Force in the Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday said Iran will block oil shipments through the Hormuz Strait if US President Donald Trump stops Iranian oil sales.

Qassem Solaimani’s comments came as President Hassan Rouhani pledged that Iran will stand firm against US threats to cut Iranian oil sales and said Washington had not thought about the consequences of such a move.

“The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero... It shows they have not thought about its consequences,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by state news agency Irna on an official visit to Vienna.

Rouhani’s comments echoed his remarks on Tuesday when he hinted at a threat to disrupt oil shipments from neighbouring countries if Washington presses ahead with its goal of forcing all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

Rouhani did not elaborate, but Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action against Iran.

Solaimani praised Rouhani’s remarks on Wednesday, said the Guards were ready to implement such a policy.

He said in a letter published on Irna: “I kiss your [Rouhani’s] hand for expressing such wise and timely comments, and I am at your service to implement any policy that serves the Islamic Republic.”

The United States pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear programme. Washington has since told countries they must halt all imports of Iranian oil from November 4 or face US financial measures, with no exemptions.

Rouhani, who is now in Vienna trying to salvage the nuclear deal, said US sanctions against Iran were a “crime and aggression”, and called on European governments and others to stand up to Trump’s policies against Tehran.

“Iran will survive this round of US sanctions as it has survived them before. This US government will not stay in office forever ... But history will judge other nations based on what they do today,” Rouhani said.

Earlier in the day Rouhani told reporters that “if the remaining signatories can guarantee Iran’s benefits, Iran will remain in the nuclear deal without the United States.” Rouhani said that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the accord was “strange” as it was “against US national interests and the interests of other countries.” A senior Iranian oil official said on Wednesday that Trump’s pressure on international firms not to buy Iranian oil will drive prices higher and end up hurting his own economy. — Agencies