June 30, 2008 / 3:57 PM / 12 years ago

Iran won't be allowed to block Gulf shipping: U.S. Navy

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States and its allies will not allow Iran to hamper shipping in the Gulf, the waterway that carries crude from the world’s largest oil exporting region to the world, the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet said on Monday.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said in remarks published on Saturday that Tehran would impose controls on shipping in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz if Iran was attacked.

“They will not be allowed to close it (the strait),” Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff told a media briefing in Bahrain, according to a Fifth Fleet spokesman.

Cosgriff, the commander of the Bahrain-based fleet, was speaking about an “interest shared with international community to keep that vital waterway free for shipping,” the spokesman said.

Oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway at the mouth of the Gulf separating Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s traded oil supply.

Oil hit a new record of $143.54 a barrel on Monday on rising tension between Iran and Israel over Tehran’s nuclear program which the United States and the Jewish state say is meant to build an atomic bomb. Iran says the program is peaceful.

Speculation about a possible attack on Iran has risen since a report this month said Israel had practiced such a strike, prompting tough talk of retaliation, if pushed, from Tehran.

Reporting by Inal Ersan, edited by Richard Meares

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