Middle East

Iran Reportedly Threatens to Cut Off Oil Flow Through Key Route Over Nuclear Sanctions

Iran is threatening to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz – a key world oil route in the Persian Gulf – if the West imposes more sanctions over its controversial nuclear energy program.

The sanctions stem from a U.N. watchdog report that alleges the country may be developing nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the claims, stating that its program is for peaceful purposes, Reuters reports.

"If [the West] impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz," Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi told Iranian news agency IRNA.

"Our enemies will give up on their plots against Iran only if we give them a firm and strong lesson," he added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner called the threat "bluster." He said it was "another attempt by them to distract attention from the real issue, which is their continued noncompliance with international nuclear obligations."

Rahimi has no major role in Iran's foreign or military policy.

On Monday, the Iranian navy warned off a foreign helicopter that had approached the site of a 10-day naval drill it is currently conducting in international waters beyond the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

A spokesman for the drill, Rear Adm. Mahmoud Mousavi, tells state TV the helicopter left the area immediately after the warning Sunday. He gives no other details.

Iran’s navy began the 10-day drill on Saturday, and regularly holds war games. The country has also been active in fighting piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.