'Obama letter to Khamenei contained 'nothing new''

Iran will have a "tough response" to any country trying to endanger regional security, Foreign Ministry official says.

January 17, 2012 12:11
2 minute read.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 58 (R). (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)


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A letter sent by the United States to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warning that a closure of the Strait of Hormuz would be crossing a "red line" contained nothing new, an advisor to Khamenei said Monday. Echoing the statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday that "nothing new" has taken place in Iranian-US relations.

"Our country does not seek conflict and tension with anyone," the ISNA news agency quoted Mehmanparast as saying Tuesday. "We have declared that Persian Gulf security is our major priority and Iran will give a tough response to any country which intends to endanger regional security. Everything will change if anyone wants to change [the] regional climate," he added.

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Also on Tuesday, a senior military advisor to Khamenei said that Iran has "different tools to defend its national interests" should it be threatened.

Maj.-Gen. Yahya Rahim Safivi boasted that Iran is the "greatest power" in the region and the "guarantor of international energy security."

The United States used a secret diplomatic channel to tell Khameneni that closing the Strait of Hormuz would constitute crossing a "red line," The New York Times reported late last week. What Washington's response to an Iranian breach of its red lines remained unclear.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey said last week that that while Iran has the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz “for a period of time,” the US would take action to reopen it in such an event.


“They’ve invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz,” Dempsey said in an interview airing on the CBS “Face the Nation” program. “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that.”

Should Iran try to close Hormuz, the US “would take action and reopen” the waterway, said Dempsey, US President Barack Obama’s top military adviser.

Blocking the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic shipping lane linking the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf, would constitute a “red line” for the US, as would Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on the same program.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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