Report: Iranian lawmakers vote to block Strait of Hormuz

More than 120 Iranian lawmakers signed a petition calling for a plan to block the Strait, two days after members of the European Union approved an embargo on all Iranian oil exports. 

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"If enemies want to stand against our religion, we will stand against them worldwide and westerners’ sanctions are tyrannical and their stances are arbitrary in nature," Iranian parliament member Javad Karimi Ghoddoussi told the state-sponsored IRNA news agency on Tuesday. 

In addition to the proposed shutdown of the Strait, the Iranian military conducted live fire tests of a new long-range missile capable during ongoing military exercises in the hotly contested waterway. 

With a range of nearly 2,000 km, the Shahab-3 missile could hit targets Israel and southern Europe, as well as American military installations in the region, according to Gen. Hossein Salami, head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard corps. 

Last Friday, IRNA reported the Iranian navy had begun to outfit its fleet of warships with smaller versions of the Shahab-3 missile and planned to send those vessels into the Strait. 

Thousands of military and commercial vessels transit the Strait, the main entry point into the Persian Gulf, on a routine basis. U.S. warships assigned to the Navy's Fifth Fleet patrol the Strait from its headquarters in Bahrain. 

The White House last Sunday praised the EU's decision, characterizing the move as "a substantial additional commitment" to "seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program."

Iranian officials recently wrapped up talks with representatives from the so-called P5+1 group — the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany — in Russia over Tehran's secretive nuclear program. 

The Moscow talks were the third time that western diplomats attempted to persuade Iran to disclose information on its nuclear work. Tehran claims its nuclear effort is strictly for energy purposes.

But Iranian officials continue to keep the program cloaked in secrecy, leading many world leaders to accuse Iran of building a nuclear bomb. 

To that end, the United States and its allies have repeatedly stated that all options — including military action — would be considered if diplomatic efforts to open up Iran's nuclear program to the international community failed. 

Earlier this year, Iranian military leaders threatened to block off the Strait to American Navy and commercial ships, claiming any U.S. vessel attempting to cross the waterway could be attacked. Iran eventually backed off those threats after an intense round of diplomatic talks between Tehran and Western powers. However, the move failed to calm anxieties in the region. 

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