Iran’s top general warned on Sunday that Tehran could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping route if it faces more “hostility,” news agency ISNA said, as the US tightens up sanctions.
“We are not after closing the Strait of Hormuz but if the hostility of enemies increase, we will be able to do so,” armed forces chief of staff Mohammad Hossein Bagheri told semi-official ISNA.
“Also if our oil does not go through the strait, other countries’ oil will certainly not cross the strait, too,” he added.
The statement came after Washington said on Monday it would start imposing sanctions on countries such as India, China and Turkey that buy Iranian oil.
Eight countries were initially given six-month reprieves after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran in November, following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear accord.
Iranian officials have repeatedly warned that the Islamic republic could shut down the strait, a vital shipping lane for international oil supplies, should it find its national interests or security threatened.
“We believe Iran will continue to sell its oil ... (and) use the Strait of Hormuz. But if the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that, then it should be prepared for the consequences,” foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.
“It is in our vital national security interest to keep the Persian Gulf open, to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. We have done that in the past and we will continue to do that in the future,” he added.