Iran Confirms Receipt of U.S. Letter Warning Against Blockade of Strait of Hormuz

Letter comes as tensions are high over the vital oil shipping lane; Tehran considering whether to reply to Washington letter.

News Agencies
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News Agencies

Iran on Sunday confirmed having received a message by the United States regarding the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, news agencies reported Sunday.

Iranian generals have warned that they could close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital international oil route in the Persian Gulf - thus blocking a considerable share of global oil exports - if oil sanctions were imposed.

Iranian naval vessels near the Strait of Hormuz, Jan. 3, 2012.Credit: Reuters

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying Tehran had not yet decided if it would reply to the letter, the contents of which he did not detail.

"America's message over the Strait of Hormuz reached us through three channels. It was given to our UN representative, the Swiss ambassador conveyed it to the Foreign Ministry and also Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave the message to Iran," Mehmanparast said, according to the ISNA news agency.

"If we deem it is necessary to give a response to America's message, then we will reply to it. The issue is being reviewed by Iran and it will be done in an appropriate way."

Tehran and Washington have had no direct diplomatic relations since 1979 and the Swiss embassy represents U.S. interests in Iran.

Tehran said on Saturday it had sent a letter to Washington with evidence U.S. intelligence services were involved in the assassination of a nuclear scientist last week.

Washington has said it would not tolerate any closure of the strait - the export route for one third of all seaborne traded oil - with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has saying such a move would require a response.

Tensions between the two countries have risen in recent weeks. U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill on New Year's Eve that, if fully implemented, would make it impossible for most countries to pay for Iranian oil.

In addition to threats about Hormuz, Iran has started enriching uranium at an underground bunker and sentencing an Iranian-American citizen to death on spying charges.

Negotiations between the West and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program stalled one year ago.



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