Iran Guards says it held Gulf drills as US tensions rise

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With tensions high ahead of the return of USA sanctions on Tuesday, the government of President Hassan Rouhani also faces opposition from conservatives and religious leaders, who have long disliked his outreach to the West and accuse him of governing only for the rich.

While the USA failed to persuade Beijing to stop importing Iranian oil, the Chinese government did say it would not increase the imports, according to Bloomberg, which cited two anonymous officials "familiar with the negotiations".

More than half-a-dozen current and former officials told the Reuters news agency that the campaign is meant to work in concert with US President Donald Trump's push to economically throttle Iran by re-imposing tough sanctions.

Remaining sanctions - including on Iran's oil and gas sector and central bank - will resume on Nov 5.

But as the new Indian fiscal year began in April, refiners have been taking more Iranian oil imports compared to the previous fiscal year, as Iran offered incentives such as extended credit periods and nearly free shipping to keep its market share in India-Tehran's second-largest oil customer after China.

Washington also imposed a series of additional sanctions on Iranian entities and individuals, as well as foreign companies in Iran, squeezing Iran economically.

The first round of United States sanctions on Iran goes into effect on August 6, followed by ones targeting Iran's oil exports on November 4.

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On the back of renewed tensions between Iran and the USA, the Islamic Republic's President Hassan Rouhani delivered a thinly-veiled threat to hamper oil shipments in the Gulf.

"The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned the USA against any attempt to stop Tehran's oil trade, threatening to block the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. -Chinese trade relations. The Trump administration this week said it would increase tariffs on China from 10 percent to 25 percent, prompting Beijing to say it wouldn't be persuaded by economic blackmail.

China's Unipec, the trading arm of Sinopec, has suspended crude oil imports from the United States.

State refiners accounted for about four-fifths of the imports; Indian Oil Corp along with its unit Chennai Petroleum Corp imported approximately 300 000 bpd oil, the preliminary data showed.

"This exercise was conducted with the aim of controlling and safeguarding the safety of the global waterway [in the Persian Gulf]", said General Ramazan Sharif, spokesman for Iranian Revolutionary Guards according to state news agency IRNA.

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