Iran backs off threat to close Strait of Hormuz

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Talk of blocking the strategic oil route through the Strait of Hormuz is a discussion of the past, a commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Saturday in comments that seemed to back away from an earlier threat. But he said Iran had other, unspecified strategies for reacting to any Western aggression.

"Discourse about closing the Strait of Hormuz belongs to five years ago. Today's debate in the Islamic Republic of Iran contains new layers and the time has not come to raise it," Gen. Masoud Jazayeri said in comments posted Saturday on the Guard's website, sepahnews.com.

Jazayeri did not elaborate.

Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi threatened on Tuesday to close the strait, cutting off oil exports, if the West imposes sanctions on Iran's oil shipments.

Iran's navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari warned on Wednesday that his country can easily close the strategic oil route at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a sixth of the world's oil flows.

He took a slightly more conciliatory tone Friday, saying Iran can choke off the vital waterway but it has no intention to do so at this point.

The U.S. has strongly warned Iran against closing the vital waterway, saying it won't tolerate it.

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