If the Israeli Navy attempts to hamper Iran’s oil sales, Tehran “will firmly respond”, the Iranian Minister of Defence Amir Hatami stated Wednesday.
The defence minister also noted that Israeli actions would be seen as “piracy” if the navy would act against Iran, according to the news agency IRNA.
The minister’s statement follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threats expressed last week that he would deploy the Israeli Navy to deal with Iran’s alleged attempts to smuggle out oil via maritime routes in order to skirt sanctions imposed by Washington.
However, the Israeli official didn’t specify how the navy would tackle that and whether it would become a direct armed confrontation at sea.
The Iranian Navy has been seeking to boost its presence at sea amid a new escalation of tensions with the United States following the latter’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran.
In particular, Tehran earlier this year conducted drills in the Strait of Hormuz — a strategically important route for oil exports from the region. Iran also previously threatened to block this key sea route if Washington provoked it and blocked its oil exports.
Israel is one of Washington’s key allies in the Middle East and a major buyer of US arms and military equipment. The two states share the same position on the Iran issue.