TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Wednesday that it is the U.S. regime which must change its nature and not Iran.

Iran will not allow any country replace its oil sales in the global market, the Foreign Ministry on Thursday said, after the U.S. told importers to halt Iranian purchases from May.

Washington has decided not to renew its exemptions from U.S. sanctions against Iran that it granted in 2018 to buyers of Iranian oil.

A senior U.S. administration official said on Monday that President Donald Trump was confident Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would fill any gap left in the oil market.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not allow any country to replace Iran in the oil market. “The U.S. and those countries will be responsible for any consequences,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said.

The spokesperson, whose comments were reported by Fars news agency, condemned Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and Bahrain for welcoming U.S. sanctions on Tehran.

Mousavi called U.S. sanctions “illegal, cruel and driven by bullying’’ and said “we are hopeful that those buyers of Iranian oil, who stood against this unilateral move in their comments, also take action.”

China, Iran’s largest crude oil customer, formally complained this week to the U.S. over its decision to end waivers on sanctions on Iranian oil imports.

Saudi Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih on Thursday said that China had “not yet” asked for more oil after the U.S. decided to end its waivers that had allowed Beijing to keep buying from Tehran.

After the U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports in November, it initially allowed the eight biggest buyers of Iranian oil to keep purchasing limited imports for six months until April.

Brent crude oil on Thursday rose above 75 dollars per barrel for the first time in 2019 in the wake of tightening sanctions on Iran, while gains in U.S. prices were crimped by a surge in U.S. supply.

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