(Adds previous threat in fifth paragraph.)
Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Iran will block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed on its crude exports, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi.
“We are not interested in any hostility and our motto is friendship and brotherhood, but westerners are not willing to abandon their plots,” IRNA cited Rahimi as saying.
About 15.5 million barrels of oil a day, or a sixth of global consumption, flows through the waterway between Iran and Oman at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Iran’s navy started a 10-day exercise east of the passage that involved the use of submarines, ground-to- sea missile systems and torpedoes, Press TV said Dec. 24.
The U.S. and European governments are seeking help from Arab and Asian allies to reduce Iran’s oil revenue to pressure the Islamic republic to abandon a suspected nuclear weapons program. The strategy includes a push by France and Britain for an embargo on imports of Iranian oil by the 27 European Union countries as soon as next month. Iran claims its nuclear program is strictly for energy.
On Dec. 13, Iran’s state-run Fars news agency cited Parviz Sorouri, a member of parliament, as saying the country was planning to conduct drills for closing the Strait of Hormuz.
“If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure,” Sorouri said, according to Fars.
The next day state-run Al Alam news channel cited Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, as saying closing the Strait of Hormuz to shipping was not on Iran’s agenda.
--With assistance from Ladane Nasseri in Tehran. Editors: John Buckley, Rob Verdonck
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Verdonck at email@example.com