Iran dismisses US warnings over Strait of Hormuz

Updated: 2011-12-30 05:13


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TEHRAN - A senior Iranian military commander dismissed on Thursday the US warnings over Iranian threats to close Strait of Hormuz.

Deputy Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami said that Tehran does not seek Washington's permission to implement its defense strategies in the Persian Gulf, the local satellite Press TV reported.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran asks for no other country's permission for the implementation of its defense strategies," Salami was quoted as saying in reaction to Washington's position on Tehran's ability to close the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States is in no position to give permission to Iran, Salami said, adding that the history of confrontations between Tehran and Washington have attested to this fact and the Islamic republic has managed to proceed with its strategies in face of US pressures.

"Whenever, the vital interests of Islamic republic is threatened, we will threaten (the interests of aggressors) in return," Salami was quoted as saying by the state IRIB TV website on Thursday.

"The ongoing drill is the representative of significant advancements in deterrent power of Islamic republic in the sea," he said.

The Pentagon on Wednesday warned Iran against any attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most critical oil route.

"This is not just an important issue for security and stability in the region, but is an economic lifeline for countries in the Gulf, including Iran," Pentagon press secretary George Little said. "Interference with the transit or passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated."

Little's remarks came after Iran's top officials threatened to seal off the important oil passageway. Iran's First Vice-President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said on Tuesday that Iran will close the Strait of Hormuz if its oil exports are sanctioned by the West.

Again, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said on Wednesday that the country's naval forces can readily block the oil route if needed.

In a separate statement, the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet said on Wednesday that "anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated."

The Iranian navy, which launched on Saturday a 10-day exercise dubbed Velayat 90 to cover a length of 2,000 km stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden, continued its exercise on Thursday.

Iranian navy's deputy commander Seyyed Mahmoud Mousavi said Thursday that the Iranian naval forces detected on Wednesday a US aircraft carrier in the area of the navy's ongoing military exercises, Press TV reported.

The commander, also the spokesman for the ongoing maneuver, said that an Iranian navy's aircraft has shot images of the US carrier spotted in an area where Iran's naval units were stationed for the drills, according to the report.

Mousavi did not provide more details about the US aircraft carrier.

The detection of the US aircraft carrier demonstrated that Iran's naval forces were precisely monitoring all the moves by non-regional powers in the region, Mousavi was quoted as saying.

The commander attached importance to the navy's monitoring and assessing of the non-regional forces' activities.

Also, Mousavi said Thursday that the Iranian Navy's aircraft and helicopters continued surveillance and reconnaissance operations during the sixth day of a major naval drills to monitor activities of all units in the area of the military exercises, Press TV reported.

Surface-to-sea logistics exercises were also carried out on Thursday to rehearse backup operations for the naval units, he was quoted as saying.

According to the spokesman for the naval drill, smoke-generating systems were tested as a part of passive defense operations aimed at minimizing damage to critical areas in case of an aerial or missile strike.

Mousavi added that mock aerial strikes were also carried out on some vessels, followed by a test of firing systems and tactics to confront such attacks.

During the sixth day of the drill on Thursday, scuba divers practiced infiltration into a coast, using underwater demolition operations and with the help of flight units, he was quoted as saying.

Mousavi also said that mock surprise attacks were conducted on the sixth day of the drill to assess the readiness of participating units in the massive war games.