The stark warning by Mahmoud Mousavi, a deputy commander of the regular army, comes just days after the US introduced its second round of anti-Tehran sanctions, targeting the country’s energy and finance sectors.
Mahmoud Mousavi, a deputy commander of Iran’s regular army, said that the armed forces were ready to protect the nation’s oil tankers against any threats, Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on Monday.
“Iran’s armed forces… are prepared today as in the past to protect our fleet of oil tankers against any threats so that it can continue to use marine waterways,” Mousavi said.
Iran previously threatened to respond to US sanctions on its oil exports by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway linking Middle East crude producers to crucial world markets.
Following the introduction of the second package of US sanctions on 5 November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to continue selling oil despite the ‘illegal and unjust’ restrictions.
“The fact is that the Islamic Republic of Iran can sell its oil and will sell its crude… even if these countries [buyers of Iranian oil] have not been offered waivers. We would have been selling our oil with honour… We will break these sanctions with honour, because these sanctions are cruel and are against the international law,” Rouhani was quoted by Press TV as saying.
Last week, TankerTrackers.com, a watchdog that monitors global oil shipments, alleged that all Iranian ships had switched off their transponders to bypass international tracking systems weeks before the US sanctions took effect.