Iran - AFP - December 22, 2011
Iran's Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari points at a map during a press conference in Tehran on December 22, 2010. Photo by AFP
Text size

Iran could easily block oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit route for Persian Gulf oil, if Western governments impose further sanctions on the Islamic state, Iran's navy commander said Wednesday.

"Blocking the Strait of Hormuz would be as easy for us as drinking a glass of water, but for the time being there is no need to do so," Admiral Habibollah Sayari told Iranian Press TV.
The European Union has threatened to expand its sanctions on Iran, after the UN atomic watchdog published a report in November expressing "serious concern" over the country's controversial nuclear program. EU foreign ministers plan to discuss a possible Iranian oil embargo at their next meeting on January 30.

The admiral's comments follow a televised statement by Iranian Vice President Mohammd-Reza Rahimi, who on Tuesday warned that Iran would not allow "one drop of oil" to cross the Strait of Hormuz, should Western governments impose further sanctions.

Rahimi is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first deputy, but his remarks are not necessarily Tehran's official stance, as he is mainly responsible for domestic affairs.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said earlier this month that Tehran had no plans to close the Strait of Hormuz, adding that important announcements would only be made by relevant officials.

However, he also noted that "if the region were to face a war-like situation, then everything would become war-like."

Iran has in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz when coming under political pressure from the West, but has never followed through on its threats.

Blocking the Strait of Hormuz would not only jeopardize international oil supply, but also its relations with oil-exporting sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world's most important oil routes, with daily oil flows of 15.5 million barrels in 2009, according to information provided by the US Energy Information Administration.