Iran's defense minister warned Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would give a "crushing response" if Israel followed through on a threat by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stymie Iranian oil shipments.
In the first 11 months of this fiscal year that began in April, India's oil imports from Iran rose by 5.6 percent to 486,400 bpd as refiners boosted purchases ahead of the US sanctions drawn by discounts offered by Tehran, the data showed.
T he U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran in November after abrogating a nuclear deal in a dispute over Tehran's nuclear and missile ambitions, although India and other countries were exempted from the curbs.
The defense minister also noted that Israeli actions would be seen as "piracy" if the navy acted against Iran, according to the IRNA news agency.
Hatami interpreted Netanyahu's comments as a threat to engage in "international piracy" and vowed Iranian forces will "secure the security of shipping lines and worldwide shipping lanes for ourselves and all those who are in our area of responsibility".
Iran has more than 50 tankers, but this month, for example, it's using 12 of those to store oil in floating storage at sea, according to MarineTraffic data cited by Reuters.
Brian Hook, the State Department's top Iran diplomat, said in November 2018, "If Iranian takers make calls to your ports or transit through your waterways, this comes at great risk".
Iran's navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander also said on Wednesday that enemies will regret any confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
He claimed that Iran is trying to "covertly" ship fuel over maritime routes to "circumvent" the US sanctions.
At least two other tankers registered to Panama - the Sarak and the Sobar - that were not previously considered part of Tehran's fleet - have been re-flagged to Iran this year. South Korean officials have not commented on the situation, but Iranian officials have said that they are working on negotiations that are being affected by US sanctions.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stressed Washington's commitment to swiftly bring Iranian crude oil exports to zero, saying Tehran's role in the energy market has been diminishing due to US pressure.
In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook called Iranian vessels a "floating liability", saying the US sanctions would bar them from global insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.