U.S. warns Iran against closing Hormuz oil route

The U.S. warned Iran Wednesday that it will not tolerate any disruption of naval traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, after Iran’s navy chief said the Islamic Republic is capable of closing the vital oil route if the West imposes new sanctions targeting Tehran’s oil exports.

Iran’s Adm. Habibollah Sayyari told state-run Press TV that closing the strait, which is the only sea outlet for the crucial oil fields in and around the Persian Gulf, “is very easy” for his country’s naval forces.

It was the second such warning by Iran in two days, reflecting Tehran’s concern that the West is about to impose new sanctions that could hit the country’s biggest source of revenue, its oil sector. On Tuesday, Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi threatened to close the strait if the West imposes such sanctions.

In response, the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet’s spokeswoman warned that any disruption at the strait “will not be tolerated.”

The spokeswoman, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, said the U.S. Navy is “always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.”

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