Iran’s defence minister warned Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would give a “crushing response” if Israel followed through on a threat by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stymie Iranian oil shipments.
Defence Minister Amir Hatami was responding to a speech last week in which Netanyahu warned that Israel’s navy might intervene if Iran was illegally exporting petroleum and bypassing American economic sanctions, the IRNA news agency reported.
“If they have such an intention, this issue will be regarded as international piracy,” Hatami said.
In his speech, Netanyahu accused Iran of secretly smuggling oil to get past economic sanctions, and called on the international community to take action against the activity.
“Iran is trying to bypass the sanctions on it through the covert smuggling of petroleum via the sea,” he said. “As these attempts expand, the (Israeli) navy will have a more important role in efforts to block these Iranian actions.
“I call on the international community to halt, by any means, Iran’s attempts to bypass the sanctions via the sea,” Netanyahu said.