Khamenei backs threat to stop Gulf exports if oil sales halted

The endorsement by Khamenei, who has the last word on all major issues of state, is likely to discourage any open opposition to Rouhani's apparent threat.

Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the oil sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and one of the world's most strategically important choke points, in retaliation for any hostile USA action.

"America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars", Rouhani told a group of Iranian diplomats, according to Reuters.

In May, Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal - an agreement US President Donald Trump has called the "worst deal ever".

Even though Rouhani did not mention the Strait of Hormuz, his comments were nonetheless seen as a threat to the narrow strategic passageway located between Iran and Oman, where at least 18.5m barrels of oil were transported every day in 2016, according to a USA energy department report.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that no country in the region will export oil if Iran's exports are stopped.

Current and former US officials said the campaign paints Iranian leaders in a harsh light, at times using information that is exaggerated or contradicts other official pronouncements, including comments by previous administrations.

If the Strait of Hormuz was successfully blocked at its narrowest point, a 54-kilometer wide waterway between the coasts of Iran and Oman, it would cut off sea shipments of oil by Iraq, Saudi Arabi, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He pointed to numerous attempts by the USA to put pressure on the Iranian nation and bully them and said, "We have always told other countries, including United States allies, that confronting U.S. bullying should go beyond political commitments and should lead to practical measures with a timeframe".

Iranian officials have in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for any hostile US action.

Separately, a top Iranian military commander warned that the Trump government might be preparing to invade Iran.

Washington initially planned to totally shut Iran out of global oil markets after Mr Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, demanding all other countries to stop buying its crude by November.

Addressing the Saturday meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei said talks with the USA were "useless", adding that while negotiations with the Europeans should continue, Iran should not count much on their package of proposals.

But it has since somewhat eased its stance, saying that it may grant sanction waivers to some allies that are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies.

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