Iran says it is “perfectly capable” of blocking the Strait of Hormuz, after NATO dismissed the possibility of closing the waterway.
After NATO naval forces commander Vice Admiral Maurizio Gemignani dismissed the Iranian warning about blocking the Strait of Hormuz, chief Iranian navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Iran has strategic planning and has done necessary groundwork to ensure the success of such a measure.
The Italian navy official said earlier in November that Iranian threats to close the strategic Persian Gulf waterway are merely a “fantasy” and the international passage cannot be blocked.
Rear Adm. Sayyari told IRNA on Saturday that the location of the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and its proximity to Iran’s Assalouyeh oil and gas facilities along with the country’s Bushehr nuclear installation has prompted the Islamic Republic to draw up a contingency plan to protect its sovereignty.
“We are perfectly capable of blockading the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and whoever doubts our capabilities can take a step and see the consequences,” cautioned the Iranian navy chief.
Iran first warned of the closure of the strategic strait in June after over 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged a large-scale maneuver, believed to be in preparation for a war on Iran.
Tel Aviv alleges that Tehran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has plans ‘to build a nuclear weapon’, claiming a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.
Iran denies the Israeli claim, insisting that its enrichment program is solely directed at the civilian applications of the technology.
“When a country comes under attack, it naturally uses all its capacities to confront the enemy,” Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari said in reference to Iran’s ability to cut the stream of oil by closing the Strait of Hormuz.
The strategic waterway — through which as much as 40 percent of the world’s sea-transited oil supplies pass — links the oil-rich region to international waters.
Iran has warned that in times of war, the passage can be effectively blockaded with high-tech weapons systems capable of targeting any vessel within a range of 185 miles (300 km) from Iranian shores.
Rear Adm. Sayyari said as a key regional player Iran can never be excluded from regional security concerns, pointing out that 2,000 kilometers of the shore is under the Islamic Republic’s ruling.
In further preparation, Iran also upgraded the Asalouyeh Naval Base in the Persian Gulf and inaugurated a new naval base in the port of Jask located in the Sea of Oman in order to tighten its grip on the strategic region.
The top Iranian navy official said the Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces has called for the close cooperation of the country’s military and IRGC forces in the entire strategic waterway as the security of the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are closely connected.