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Khamenei Defies U.S. Oil Sanctions, While Rouhani Says Will Negotiate If U.S. 'Apologizes'

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) speaks with President Hassan Rohani during a meeting with members of Iranian Assembly of Experts in Tehran, March 14, 2019

On the third day after the U.S. move to put a total stop to Iran’s oil exports, Tehran’s leaders have begun reacting to the new situation.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei defied the U.S. decision to scrap exemptions for Iranian oil purchases by friendly countries, saying, “America's efforts in sanctioning the sale of Iranian oil won't get anywhere”. Khamenei also claimed, "We can export as much of our oil as we need and want."

Khamenei also threatened the U.S. saying that its "enmity will not go unanswered" and they will get a response.

As Iranians face the worst economic outlook in recent years, Iran’s leaders need to reassure them the situation will not be as bad as expected.

With the U.S. threatening to sanction any entities purchasing Iranian oil, it is expected that major clients will look elsewhere for their oil supplies.

Japan, South Korea and India have already minimized their exports from Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani also broke his silence on Wednesday, announcing that Iran is willing to negotiate with America only if Washington lifts pressure and apologizes.

"We have always been a man of negotiation and diplomacy, the same way that we've been a man of war and defense. Negotiation is only possible if all the pressures are lifted, they apologize for their illegal actions and there is mutual respect," Rouhani was quoted as saying.

President Donald Trump reversed his predecessors policy regarding Iran and withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal in May 2018, announcing new sanctions on Tehran. The administration's position is that the Islamic Republic must change its "malign" behavior and stop its ballistic missile program.

With reporting by Reuters