Iran restarts threats over closing Strait of Hormuz

"The US threats are nothing more than a hollow allegation and this reality is crystal-clear to both nations," Nader Qazipour told the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency on Monday. "If the US had the power to make an aggression against our soil, it would have made a move already."

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Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi explained the logistics of Iran’s closing of the strait, saying in a Mehr News Agency report that such a closure would be implemented by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Officials in Tehran made similar threats back in December as the United States prepared to enact sanctions against Iran’s central bank. The latest aggressive rhetoric is coming just after U.S. sanctions against the central bank and a European Union ban on Iranian oil imports went into effect in recent weeks.

A closure of the Strait of Hormuz, even if short lived, would disrupt the world’s oil markets, something that the United States hopes to avoid. Approximately one-fifth of the world’s oil travels through the strait.

The United States and its allies suspect Iran of attempting to seek nuclear weapons, while Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The Obama administration has said it still seeks a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, while President Obama has also indicated he isn’t ruling out military action.

Still, there have beenreports about increased U.S. military presence in the Gulf, potentially to counteract Iranian attempts to mine the strait.

Iran’s ability to disrupt the oil markets through the strait could be lessening, however, as the United Arab Emirates opened a pipeline this weekend that would bypass the Strait of Hormuz. The pipeline is designed to carry at least 1.5 million barrels a day of crude oil, according to The Associated Press.