By Sohaila Barghash
On Wednesday, Iran announced it will respond strictly to any Israeli naval action against its oil shipments.
Amir Hatami was quoted saying by the state news agency IRNA that “Tehran had the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention”.
Adding that the international community will surely condemn such action.
Hatami also stated that of Israel was to confront his country, it would be a “piracy” which will lead Iran to “respond firmly”.
“The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” Hatami said.
Last year, US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from a nuclear deal with Iran, reimposing some sanctions that aimed to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero.
Last week, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers that Iran was working to set new measures to ship fuel secretly.
Furthermore, maritime experts stated that Iran used a variety of measures in effort to escape sanctions, such as by changing the names of ships or flag registries, switching off location transponders on ships and conducting ship-to-ship transfers offshore and away from large trade hubs.
In recent years, Iran’s navy has prominently extended its reach, distributing vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
Iran has one of the world’s biggest tanker fleets in the world.
The navy’s vessels include the Sahand, a newly built stealth destroyer, with a flight deck for helicopters and is equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and has electronic warfare capabilities.
Also on Wednesday, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said that enemies will regret any confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
Major General Gholamali Rashid stated through Tasnim news agency that “We never welcome any war, but we are ready to respond to any invasion. We hope the aggressors do not need to understand this point by trying it and paying a high price.”
In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook called Iranian vessels a “floating liability,” saying the US sanctions would bar them from international insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.
However, Iranian officials threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, which is a major oil shipping route in the Gulf, if the US attempts to stop the Islamic Republic’s oil exports.