Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Iran hardliner issues Strait of Hormuz warning to U.S.


TEHRAN (Reuters) - The head of a hardline Iranian political party warned the United States Tuesday against attacking Iran, saying it could hit back by choking "the West's throat" at a waterway crucial for global oil supplies.

Iran has also previously said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, and closing the Strait of Hormuz. About 40 percent of the world's traded oil leaves the Gulf region through the strategic narrows.

Neither the United States nor Israel have ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve a long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The West suspects Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability, an allegation Tehran rejects, and Washington is pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against the major oil producer.

"If America goes lunatic, the children of the nation in the Islamic Republic's armed forces would choke the West's throat at the Strait of Hormuz," Mohammad-Nabi Habibi, secretary-general of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars News Agency.

The party is seen as influential in the country, especially in the economic field.

He was speaking after Iran's Revolutionary Guards Sunday ended four days of war games in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz by test-firing five missiles, Iranian media reported.

The Islamic state often announces advances in its military capabilities and tests weaponry in an apparent bid to show its readiness for any strike by Israel or the United States.

Last week, the Pentagon said U.S. military action against Iran remained an option even as Washington pursues diplomacy and sanctions to halt the country's atomic activities.

Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has described Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its existence and has not ruled out military action.

Earlier in April, U.S. President Barack Obama made clear that Iran and North Korea were excluded from new limits on the use of U.S. atomic weapons -- something Tehran interpreted as a threat.

"The most disgraceful statement possible for a U.S. president to make, to the detriment of world peace, was this very threat against a country and nation to use nuclear arms against it," Habibi said

(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb and Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Fredrik Dahl)

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