x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Decision to block Strait of Hormuz lies with Ayatollah Khamenei

The chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the decision over whether Tehran would block the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil flows, rests in the hands of the country's supreme leader.

TEHRAN // The chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the decision over whether Tehran would block the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil flows, rests in the hands of the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

General Hassan Firouzabadi said Iran has a contingency plan to close the key route, but Ayatollah Khamenei, as commander in chief of the armed forces, would have to make the final decision.

Gen Firouzabadi's comments come two weeks after the European Union enforced a total oil embargo against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment programme. His comments were reported by the semi-official Fars news agency today.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has previously warned that Tehran would order the closure if the country's oil exports were blocked.

Meanwhile, Iran's oil minister said his office has drawn up plans to make newly tightened sanctions ineffective.

Iranian officials earlier said they are organising a consortium of private companies to bypass the embargo, without specifying exactly how this will work. Iran says it can always find buyers for oil.