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Iran's revolutionary commander threatens to close Strait of Hormuz to US

Published May 05, 2016 12:40am


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TEHRAN: The deputy commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said Iranian forces will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to the United States and its allies if they “threaten” the Islamic Republic, Iranian state media reported on Wednesday.

The comments by General Hossein Salami, carried on state television, follow a long history of both rhetoric and confrontation between Iran and the US over the narrow strait, through which nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday criticised US activities in the Persian Gulf.

It's unclear whether that signals any new Iranian concern over the strait or possible confrontation with the US following Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

“Americans should learn from recent historical truths,” Salami said, likely referring to the January capture of 10 US sailors who entered Iranian waters. The sailors were released less than a day later, though state TV aired footage of them on their knees with their hands on their heads.

“If the Americans and their regional allies want to pass through the Strait of Hormuz and threaten us, we will not allow any entry,” Salami said, without elaborating on what he and other leaders would consider a threat.

“Americans cannot make safe any part of the world,” he added.

Lt. Rick Chernitzer, a spokesman for the US Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said American sailors “continue to operate in accordance with professional maritime standards and international law” in the Persian Gulf region.

“We remain thoughtful, vigilant and responsible mariners as we conduct our operations here,” Chernitzer said in a statement to The Associated Press. “We do, however, reserve the inherent right to self-defence.”

The US and Iran have a long history of confrontations in the Persian Gulf. They even fought a one-day naval battle on April 18, 1988, after the near-sinking of the missile frigate USS Samuel B Roberts by an Iranian mine during the Iran-Iraq war. That day, US forces attacked two Iranian oil rigs and sank or damaged six Iranian vessels.

A few months later, in July 1988, the USS Vincennes in the strait mistook an Iran Air flight heading to Dubai for an attacking fighter jet, shooting down the plane and killing all 290 people onboard.

US Navy officials say they face near-daily encounters with Iranian naval vessels. In January, an unarmed Iranian drone flew over a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, the first such overflight since 2014, according to Navy records obtained by the AP.

The US has also criticised what it called a “highly provocative” Iranian rocket test in December near its warships and commercial traffic. Iran said it has the right to conduct tests in the strait and elsewhere in Gulf.

Iran sank a replica of a US aircraft carrier near the strait in February 2015 and has said it is testing “suicide drones” that could attack ships.

On, Wednesday, Iran filed a formal protest with the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which handles American interests, over a resolution filed by Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., that referred to the body of water as the “Arabian Gulf” and objected to Iran's actions there.

A report by the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Iran's Foreign Ministry as saying the country will take any necessary action to maintain security, peace and stability of the Persian Gulf region.

Forbes said in a statement that the protests over the name are “indicative of Tehran's aspirations to control the Straits of Hormuz and turn the Gulf into an Iranian lake.”

“Our Navy is the only thing preventing that from happening, and that's why Iran has been harassing our ships and sailors and trying to drive us out of the Gulf,” he said.


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Comments (10) Closed

Monsoon May 05, 2016 01:10am

Often some Iranian Commander issues a rhetoric statement about closure of Strait of Hormuz,which they knew well is not possible ,as stakes of US as well as world community are involved.

parveez May 05, 2016 01:27am

The US wants to stay the big bully it is. Does Not want to see progress made by any other country, apart from Israel.

Zulfiqar May 05, 2016 02:24am

Nothing more than drama.

ROHIT PANDEY May 05, 2016 03:00am

Oil prices have crashed. The world is moving away from oil and coal. Iran should industrialize in a big way. China and India are lending a helping hand. Stay away from confrontation with the US or Gulf states and Iran can negotiate the coming economic challenges?

Vicki May 05, 2016 03:06am

It's seems 2b just a show-off, both support each other.

Zak May 05, 2016 03:26am

That's why Pakistan needs a strong Navy to monitor the situation and keep sea lanes to the Asiatic ocean free of harassment for all ships.

Mohsin May 05, 2016 03:40am

Lost the elections Now it's time to go Singing the last song

Hashim May 05, 2016 04:44am

At least there is Muslim country who could raise voice against US and confront Israeli oppression in Palestine. Wish othere take lesson too rather than just being jealous.

Akil Akhtar May 05, 2016 04:53am

what is US doing in our waters...why can't they stay in their own and leave us alone.

Khwarezmi May 05, 2016 05:14am

American forces have made lots of military drills emulating how a war against Iran would play out. American forces failed to achieve the objectives every single time. Iran has produces a lot of missiles which it can fire off in case of a war and US do not have a defence system against them all. The 5th fleet is too close to Iran.