Published on Socialist Unity (first on Xinhuanet), by Andy Newman, December 28, 2011.

… In response to Sorouri’s remarks, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that “As Iran has announced it several times, the issue of closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran’s agenda since Iran believes in upholding the stability and peace of the region.”  

The spokesman said that some people, including lawmakers, are not in the position of reflecting on the official stance of the country, adding that they may have their own personal comments but the stance of Iran is announced through the official channel.

Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari also said Thursday that the naval exercise in Iran’s southern waters will manifest Iran’s military prowess and defense capabilities in the international waters, convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries and test the newest military equipment among other objectives.

Sayyari also rejected reports about possible one-day closure of the Strait of Hormuz during the exercise, adding that the Iranian forces are capable of accomplishing such a feat, but such a decision must be made by leaders of the country’s establishment.

The West fears that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons but Tehran insists it is for peaceful purposes only.

Relations between Iran and the West have worsened rapidly since October, when the United States accused Iran of backing an assassination plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

Soon after, following an International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear program, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions against Iran.

On Nov. 29, angry Iranian protestors stormed the British embassy in Tehran, which led to the recall of ambassadors by several European countries, including Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Certain western countries have also said that they are considering sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank and Iran’s crude exports. (full text).

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