Middle East

Iran has no plan to shut Strait of Hormuz: Press TV

Iranian naval ships take part in a naval parade on the last day of the Velayat-90 war game in the Sea of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran January 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jamejamonline/Ebrahim Norouzi

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Iran has no plan to close the vital shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz, Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi was cited as saying by state-run Press TV.

Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened to close the strait, through which around 40 percent of the world's sea-borne oil exports pass, in response to tightening sanctions on the country's crude exports over the past year.

State-run Iranian media reported in July that parliamentarians had drafted a bill to try to stop oil tankers from sailing through the Strait of Hormuz in response to a European Union ban on Iranian crude imports that came into force on July 1.

But Press TV reported on Sunday that Tehran had no plan to close the waterway.

"These two issues (closure of the Strait of Hormuz and sanctions) are not related and are totally independent of each other," it quoted the minister as saying.

"The existing sanctions are unjust, but they have pushed us forward and boosted our capabilities. We are strong enough to leave these sanctions powerfully behind."

Iran's oil minister said last week the country had a contingency strategy to survive without oil revenues and would halt all its oil exports if pressure from Western sanctions got any tighter.

Iranian threats to block shipping lanes arose in early 2012 as U.S. and European sanctions, aimed at starving Tehran of funds for its nuclear programme, tightened.

A heavy western naval presence in the area is seen as a big impediment to blocking the shipping route, which is also the sole export route for Qatari liquefied natural gas.





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