An Iranian military commander on Monday said Tehran would not close the Strait of Hormuz as long as it is able to use the vital shipping line itself, watering down threats made by politicians to block the waterway as retaliation for sanctions.
Members of the parliament and government officials have repeated threats to block the strait – the strategic Gulf passageway through which 40% of the world’s seaborne oil exports passes – in response to sanctions or military action.
“The enemies constantly state that the Islamic Republic of Iran intends to close the Strait of Hormuz but we say that common sense does not dictate that Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz as long as it makes use of it,” state news agency IRNA quoted Alireza Tangsiri, deputy naval commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, as saying.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Reuters earlier this month Iran was unlikely to follow through on the threat unless its own vessels were denied use of the strait. He admitted that such a move would risk a military response from the United States and other Western powers.
Iran’s parliament is debating a bill recommending the strait be closed in retaliation to a European Union embargo on Iranian oil which came into full effect this month.
US and other Western nations insist sanctions are aimed at forcing Tehran to curb the nuclear activities aimed at developing weapons capability. Iran outrightly dismisses the accusations. Several round of talks between Tehran and world powers on the issue have stalled during the previous weeks.