Iran’s chief of staff expands threat of Strait of Hormuz closure
Chief of staff Maj. Gen. Hasan Firuzabadi said Saturday, July, 5, Iran’s strategy is to keep the Strait of Hormuz in “southern Iran” open, but “if the country’s interests are jeopardized in the region, we will not let any ship pass through.”
debkafile‘s military sources report that this statement, quoted by the official IRNA agency, enlarges on earlier threats by the IRGC commander Ali Jafari that the waterway would be closed if Iran was attacked. Iran’s “strategic interests in the region” cited now by Firuzabadi could extend to attacks on its allies and terrorist arms, Syria, Hizballah or Hamas.
It is in keeping with Iran’s refusal to give up uranium enrichment in its reply to the six-power proposals for ending the nuclear standoff.
Iran offered nothing more than negotiations, its standard gambit for spinning out time to achieve progress on its nuclear bomb program.
The latest drumbeat from Tehran also posed a fresh challenge to Washington after Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned on July 2 that the US would not let Iran block the strategic waterway through which 40 percent of the world’s oil supplies are transported.
The New York Times Saturday quoted Tehran as stating: “The time for negotiations from the condescending position of inequality has come to an end,”
in its response to the incentives package offered by the five UN Security Council members plus Germany. The letter made no reference to the proposal of preliminary talks to start with a mutual six-week “freeze” both on a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions and on the expansion of Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Further hardening its position, Tehran’s reply to the proposals presented last month by Europeam Union foreign executive Javier Solana denounces such sanctions as “illegal.” Chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was named to lead the delegation in comprehensive negotiations.
By failing to address the “freeze-for-freeze” approach, in which high hopes of a more accommodating Iranian approach had been pinned, Tehran has put an end to the optimistic intimations emanating from Washington, Europe and Israeli officials in the last two weeks. Some American sources were certain that a closed Iranian parliamentary conference Monday, June 30, had endorsed the mutual freeze offer.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources add: The Iranian reply to Solana demonstrates that Tehran was not intimidated by the implied threats of an imminent US and/or Israel attack on its nuclear facilities published in the last two weeks; neither is Iran deterred from continuing to enrich uranium by the prospect of more sanctions. Even in accepting the offer of negotiations, the Islamic Republic stiffly denies any world power the right to strike a “condescending position.”