Iran has full control of the Persian Gulf and all “alien” forces, including the U.S. Navy, operating there should leave, a top Iranian defense official said Monday.
“We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the U.S. and the countries whose home is not in here,” General Alireza Tangsiri, the naval chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency Tasnim.
“All the carriers and military and non-military ships will be controlled and there is full supervision over the Persian Gulf. Our presence in the region is physical and constant and night and day,” Tangsiri added.
Surrounded by major oil-producing nations, the Persian Gulf is one of the most strategically vital waterways in the world. Roughly 30 percent of all sea-borne oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a natural choke point that separates the gulf from the Indian Ocean.
Tehran has signaled that it could take military action to close the strait in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on Iranian energy and shipping sectors. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in July that Tehran could move to limit other countries’ oil shipments out of the Persian Gulf if its own exports were blocked. (RELATED: Iran’s President Threatens Neighbors, Tries To Escape Looming US Sanctions)
Iran conducted its annual “swarm” naval exercise in the Persian Gulf earlier in August. Comprised of hundreds of fast boats backed by air defense assets, the drill is meant to demonstrate Iran’s capacity to harass international shipping in the waterway.
U.S. sanctions against Iran’s oil industry, which had been lifted as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, are set to snap back in November. Senior Trump administration officials have said the goal of the sanctions is to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero and force Tehran to negotiate a new nuclear pact that also addresses Iranian military action in the Middle East.
As part of its pressure campaign, Washington is demanding that foreign consumers stop buying Iranian oil and gas or face secondary sanctions. The European Union, which has deep economic ties to Iran, has moved to protect its firms from U.S. sanctions, but several have already begun to scale back their operations there. (RELATED: Here’s How Europe Plans To Counter US Sanctions On Iran)
Other significant consumers of Iranian oil — notably China, India and Turkey — have said they will ignore U.S. sanctions or seek exemptions on a case-by-case basis.
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