DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran will keep the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane open as long as the waterway served its interests, a military commander was on Monday quoted as saying.
Iranian politicians and officials have often said that Iran could block the strait - the neck of the Gulf through which 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil exports passes - in response to sanctions or military action.
Such a move would risk a military response from the United States and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Reuters in July that Iran was unlikely to follow through on the threat unless its own vessels were denied use of the strait.
"Iran's goal is for everyone in the world to use the Strait of Hormuz but as long as it does not harm Iran's interests and in that case our reaction would definitely be different," IRNA news agency quoted senior Revolutionary Guards commander Masoud Jazayeri as telling Iran's Arabic-language Al Alam television.
"Most military experts know that if Iran decides to close the Strait of Hormuz, no country or countries would be able to confront this move," he added, according to IRNA.
Experts say that a heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf and surrounding area is a big impediment to any attempt to block the waterway.
Israel and the United States have threatened military action against Iran unless it abandons nuclear activities which the West suspects are intended to develop nuclear weapons.
Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
(Writing by Zahra Hosseinian, editing by Diana Abdallah)