TEHRAN - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday repeated his threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea, if the U.S. shuts off Iran's oil exports.
State TV quoted Rouhani as saying that “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran's oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”
The strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is crucial to global energy supplies.
Rouhani also pledged that the United States would not be able to prevent Iran from exporting its crude.
Rouhani has made similar threats in the months since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal and began restoring sanctions. Trump has vowed to eventually cut off all Iranian oil exports, but the administration has given waivers to several countries.
The tough talk from Rouhani, a relative moderate, has meanwhile been warmly received by his domestic hardline rivals.
Brian Hook, the U.S. representative for Iran policy, dismissed Rouhani's threat, noting that Iran does not control the Strait of Hormuz.
“The strait is an international waterway. The United States will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in international waterways.”