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Iranian official threatens oil blockade

Dec. 27, 2011 at 9:54 PM

TEHRAN, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A senior Iranian official threatened Tuesday Iran would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if his country is slapped with economic sanctions.

"If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil, not even a drop of oil will be allowed through the Strait of Hormuz," Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said at an international forum in Tehran, the Iranian network Press TV reported. "We take no interest in animosity and hostility, our belief is friendship and brotherhood, but the West will not end its scheming."

About 15 million barrels of oil pass through the strait daily. The threat, along with Iranian naval exercises in the region, helped send the price of oil above $101 per barrel Tuesday.

The New York Times noted the threat came as the United States considers steps that would ratchet up the pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program by clamping down on its ability to get its oil to market.

A White House spokesman said there would be no comment on the Iranian official's threat, the Times reported. Obama administration officials have said previously there is a plan to keep the strait open in the event of a crisis, the newspaper said.

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