Iran puts Strait of Hormuz on the table again

Top military commander issues conditional ‘threat’

Iran has plans to close the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the oil-rich Gulf but only if its interests are seriously threatened, its top military commander said in remarks reported on Saturday.

"We have plans to close the Strait of Hormuz because military commanders must have plans for any situation," Iran's armed forces chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said late Friday according to ISNA news agency.

"But Iran, acting rationally, will not close the corridor through which 40 per cent of the world's energy passes, unless its interests are in serious trouble," he said.

Several commanders and officials have vowed that Iran reserves as an option closing the strait -- a strategic oil choke point -- if its nuclear programme is targeted by military strikes.

The threats, renewed repeatedly since December, have generated warnings from the United States which says any attempt by Iran to close the waterway is a "red line" that would trigger a US military reaction.

"What my colleagues say regarding (the closing of the strait) echo missions assigned to them," Firouzabadi told the Khorasan daily.

But, he explained, "the order to carry out the mission will only come from a decision by the Supreme National Security Council and approved by Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.

Firouzabadi said statements by military commanders would not impact the decision whether to close the passage of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

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