The arrests were revealed on the day Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Switzerland on a visit that Tehran said was of "crucial importance" for cooperation between the Islamic Republic and Europe after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement.
And the move to take Iranian barrels off the market isn't the only thing that could send oil prices higher: Venezuelan oil production continues to decline, and Libya's ability to sustain even limited oil exports is in question given political turmoil in the country.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani goes to Switzerland and Austria this week with the landmark nuclear accord negotiated in the two Alpine countries hanging in the balance. On Friday, the top diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, as well as China and Russian Federation will join Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna to discuss a "European incentive package and the solutions to preserve Iran nuclear deal after U.S. illegal action to withdraw", according to Iran's state-run news. The State Department said Monday it would examine waivers on a "case-by-case basis" as it re-imposes sanctions.
Since President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw in May, calling the agreement deeply flawed, European states have been scrambling to ensure Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to maintain the nuclear curbs required in the deal. "But when they apply sanctions on people's basic needs like medicine, who will be put under pressure?"
"The Iranian government has a plan, and God willing we are certain that we will be able to sell as much oil as we want".
"Iranian crude oil will be offered on the bourse and the private sector can export it in a transparent way", First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri told an economic event in Tehran broadcasted live on state television. "Do this if you can and see the consequences", he said according to an English-language report of his statements provided by Iran's Press TV. Rouhani didn't elaborate but when pressured in the past, Iran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz though which one third of the world's oil supply passes.
Rouhani on Monday blasted the re-implementation of USA sanctions on Iran, saying that the penalties had the greatest impact on Iranian citizens. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday over Rouhani's remarks. Large drug seizures are common across the region.
Brian Hook, who is leading negotiations with United States allies on a new Iran strategy said on Monday: "Our focus is on getting as many countries importing Iranian crude down to zero as soon as possible". Dubai also is the U.S. Navy's busiest port of call overseas.
In recent days, the State Department has wrestled with balancing its desire to squeeze Tehran with reassurances to the global oil market that prices will remain stable. On Saturday, Trump wrote on Twitter that he had received assurances from King Salman of Saudi Arabia that the kingdom will increase oil production, "maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels" in response to turmoil in Iran and Venezuela.