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Iran says it has full control of major international shipping route

Country had threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz

Photo: Google Maps

Photo: Google Maps

Update 3 - 1.27pm

Iran has full control of the Gulf, and the US Navy does not belong there, the head of the navy of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Alireza Tangsiri, said on Monday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

The remarks come at a time when Tehran has suggested that it could take military action in the Gulf to block oil exports of other regional countries in retaliation for US sanctions intended to halt its oil sales. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf which protects oil shipping routes.

Tangsiri said Iran had full control of both the Gulf itself and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it. Closing off the strait would be the most direct way of blocking shipping.

"We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the US and the countries whose home is not in here," he said in the quote, which appeared in English translation on Tasnim.

Tension between Iran and the United States has escalated since President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and reimposed sanctions.

Senior US officials have said they aim to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most senior authority in the Islamic Republic, said last month that he supports the idea that if Iran is not allowed to export oil then no country should export oil from the Gulf.

READ: Why is the Strait of Hormuz important?

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump sees as flawed, Iran reined in its disputed nuclear programme under UN monitoring and won a removal of international sanctions in return.

Iranian lawyers will ask the International Court of Justice on Monday to order the United States to lift sanctions ordered by the Trump administration against Tehran.

The lawsuit filed with the ICJ, also known as the World Court, says the US sanctions, which are damaging its already weak economy, violate terms of a little-known 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries.

The United States, which will respond formally in oral arguments on Tuesday, has yet to issue a public response.

US lawyers are expected to argue that the United Nations court should not have jurisdiction in the dispute, that the friendship treaty is no longer valid and that the sanctions Washington has levied against Tehran do not violate it anyway.

The oral hearings, essentially a request by Iran for a provisional ruling, will last for four days, with a decision to follow within a month.

The ICJ is the United Nations tribunal for resolving international disputes. Its rulings are binding, but it has no power to enforce them and on rare occasions they have been ignored by some countries, including the United States.

Although the United States' European allies have protested against Trump's move, most Western companies intend to adhere to the sanctions, preferring to lose business in Iran than be punished by the United States or barred from doing business there.

The ICJ has so far ruled that the 1955 treaty is still valid, even though it was signed long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that triggered decades of hostile relations with Washington.

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