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Iran warns of firm response to Israel

Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Iran has the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention, and said the international community would also not accept such action.

Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Iran has the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention, and said the international community would also not accept such action.

Hatami said such confrontation would be considered as “piracy” and warned that “if it happens, we will firmly respond.”

“Certainly, if they (the Israelis) have such an intention, the issue would constitute piracy and an [instance of] international insecurity," he told IRNA.

“The Iranian Armed Forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” Hatami said.

US President Donald Trump last year quit the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed some sanctions, aiming to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship crude.

Netanyahu threatened to stop what he called Iran’s “covert” oil shipments over maritime routes meant to “circumvent” US sanctions.

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“As these attempts expand, the navy will have a more important role in efforts to block these Iranian actions,” Netanyahu said.

Iran’s Navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Iranian warships stepped in on Friday to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

An Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander also said on Wednesday that enemies will regret any confrontation with Iran.

“We never welcome any war, but we are ready to respond to any invasion. We hope the aggressors do not need to understand this point by trying it and paying a high price,” Major General Gholamali Rashid said.

The Israeli Navy is mostly active in the Mediterranean and Red Sea.

Iran has one of the world’s biggest tanker fleets in the world.

In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook called Iranian vessels a “floating liability”, saying the US sanctions would bar them from international insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.

He warned global shipping and insurance industries that insuring Iranian tankers would incur penalties under Washington’s sanctions against Tehran.

“From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all chokepoints in between, Iranian tankers are now a floating liability,” he said. “Countries, ports and canal operators and private firms should know they will be likely responsible for the costs of an accident involving a self-insured Iranian tanker.”

Following Hook’s threat, Iran lodged a complaint with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) against the US over the reimposition of the bans, which target scores of Iranian ships.

As a specialized agency of the UN, the IMO – which has 174 member states – is tasked with regulating international shipping. The organization works to promote “safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation,” as its mission statement reads.

Reuters and Press TV contributed to this report.

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