Iran says it is ready, if threatened, to close the Strait of Hormuz to ships linking the Gulf to international markets, Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Monday.
“In light of the strategic position of the Strait of Hormuz, this issue has never been taken off the agenda,” General Jafari said.
“We have not stopped there; we are seeking to use our defense capabilities in open waters,” General Jafari added as forces under his command prepared to launch the naval phase of the 10-day Great Prophet-6 exercise, which ends on Friday.
According to a Revolutionary Guards spokesman, the exercise is intended “to preserve its readiness against enemy strikes,” a veiled reference to attacks the United States and Israel have refused to ruled out to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The Guards have thus far during the exercises launched a range of ballistic missiles that Iran says are able to hit Israel and US forces in the Gulf region.
“This means that should the enemy try to pose a threat against the Islamic republic from outside the Strait of Hormuz, we will have the power to retaliate in kind. This strategy is now on our agenda,” said General Jafari.
The Islamic Republic, which is locked in a dispute with the West over its nuclear activities, regularly announces advances in its military capabilities in a bid to show its readiness.
Iran’s navy has a few frigates and submarines on the high seas, but a year ago it began to deploy them to the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and even the Red Sea.
Iranian military officials have often warned of blocking the Strait of Hormuz – the passage through which 40 percent of the world’s oil is shipped – in case the country comes under attack.
Early in February the commander of Guards’ naval forces, Ali Fadavi said, “The Islamic republic has the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz if threatened.”
(Sara Ghasemilee, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)