Following the formal adoption of an oil embargo against Iran by the European Union, a senior Tehranian lawmaker says his country now has every right to block all traffic through the Strait of Hormuz.The Associated Press reports that Heshmatollah Falahapisheh says that closing the strait is “an increasing possibility” (via Stars and Stripes).
The new EU sanctions ban all new oil contracts with Iran, while leaving contracts made before July 1 untouched.
The BBC reports that the EU currently purchases about 20 per cent of Iran’s crude exports and that this move will have “substantial impact,” which UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says will show “the resolve of the European Union on this issue.”
The issue to which he’s referring, of course, is Iran’s continued breach of UN resolutions and for failing to negotiate on its nuclear program.
Iran’s announcement that it now has the legal right to close the strait comes after more than a month of posturing and warnings directed toward the U.S. and Europe, threatening to shut the waterway if additional sanctions were imposed.
Last week Tehran threatened to torpedo any U.S. carriers in the Persian Gulf by setting its diesel-electric subs on the sea floor and torpedoing the carriers as they pass.
Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Army’s Self-Sufficiency Jihad, Rear Admiral Farhad Amiri told FARS that Iran has the finest electric diesel submarines in the world, and that while the U.S. has focused on Tehran’s “astonishing surface capabilities,” it has forgotten about the underwater threat.
Amiri said he plans to slip his fleet of subs onto the Persian Gulf floor and “fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously.”
Iran claims to have 17 Ghadir diesel electric subs in its fleet, and four have been photographed together, so the threat is not entirely without merit.
The Ghadir is incapable of holding a commando crew, and despite scant details it may be well-equipped to follow through on this most recent threat.
Earlier this month Iran demanded the U.S. remove its carriers from the Gulf after the John C. Stennis passed through the Strait of Hormuz.
Iranian Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi said “We advise, warn and recommend [the U.S. Navy] not to return this carrier to its previous location in the Persian Gulf.”
“We are not in the habit of repeating the warning and we warn only once,” Salehi said, without mentioning the Stennis.