“The US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice had handed a letter to Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazaei; the Swiss Ambassador to Tehran [Livia Leu Agosti] also conveyed the same thing; and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani delivered the same message to Iranian officials,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday.
Mehmanparast said Iran is studying the letter and “will respond if necessary.”
The Strait of Hormuz became the focal point of the recent escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran after the US announced plans to boycott Iran’s Central Bank over the country’s nuclear program in an apparent bid to punish foreign companies and banks that do business with Iranian financial institution.
The sanctions are ultimately designed to target Iran’s oil output by preventing refiners across the world from paying for the country’s crude.
On December 27, Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi warned that imposing sanctions against the country’s energy sector will prompt Tehran to prevent oil cargoes from passing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
“If they impose sanctions on Iran’s oil, not even a drop of oil will be allowed through the Strait of Hormuz,” he warned.
Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari further reiterated on December 28 that Iran has complete command over the strategic waterway and that “closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces.”
Tensions further escalated when the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet responded by saying it would not “tolerate” any disruption in the Strait of Hormuz.
“[The fleet] maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities,” a spokesperson for the fleet said.
On January 2, Iran wrapped up a massive 10-day Velayat 90 naval exercise, covering an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.
During the drills Iran successfully test-fired a range of indigenous state of the art medium- and long-range missiles, including the anti-radar surface to air Mehrab projectile, the surface-to-surface Nour (Light), and the coast-to-sea Qader (Capable) missile, with a range of 200 kilometers.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) naval force has also announced that it plans to stage a major new military maneuver in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in February.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow shipping channel that leads in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman.
Statistic-wise, the strait is one of the world’s most important waterways, with a daily flow of about 15 million barrels of oil