Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Iran is in full control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a top Iranian Navy commander said Monday.
"The naval forces of the Army are prepared to defend the waters with their intelligence dominance and monitoring of the enemy's physical presence," Gen. Alireza Tangsiri, chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Monday. "We have a message to our Muslim neighbors: We have repeatedly stated that we are extending our hand of brotherhood to you and believe that the Persian Gulf is our home for which we can provide security. There is no need for foreigners such as the United States and the countries whose home is not here."
His comments suggest that Iran believes it is capable of blocking all shipping through the waterways, notably the shipment of oil. Tehran has suggested it could take military action in the Persian Gulf to retaliate for U.S. sanctions preventing the transport of Iranian oil, including blockades against countries delivering oil through the Gulf. Last month, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, Iran's senior leader, said he supports a policy by which no country can export oil through the Gulf if Iran cannot. Tangsiri's comments were meant for Iran's neighbors, as well as the United States, the Iranian government-aligned Press TV said.
The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is deployed in the Persian Gulf, with aircraft carriers, ships and aircraft. On average there have been 2.5 interactions per month between January 2016 and August 2017 with Iranian navy forces, the U.S. Navy said. The United States also has military personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Turkey.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned in May that he might work to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero. It prompted a suggestion by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz. Tensions between the two countries have increased since the United States withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers.
In a speech Monday, IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari reinforced Tangsiri's comments.
"The capabilities of this force [the Iranian navy], in terms of technology, tactics and strategies, are up-to-date and geared to the advancement of technologies at the highest level," Jafari said. "It is natural that the enemy strictly avoids any conflict because it knows that it would end to its detriment."