In a highly charged speech on Tuesday, President Hassan Rouhani warned Iran would not hesitate from further acts of retaliation against Tehran’s Western opponents and that any conflict would result in “the mother of all wars”.
“We can’t have the Strait of Hormuz open to you whereas you close the Strait of Gibraltar to us,” Rouhani said during a meeting of top officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran.
“Security in return for security; strait in return for strait; peace in return for peace; and oil in return for oil. This is our position. For a long time we turned a blind eye to British ships not heeding our rules and regulations, but we were in a time of peace. However, now that you have taken unfriendly action [against us], we will not shy away from implementing our rules [against you],” he added.
The speech comes a day after the British government said it will join a US-led naval security mission to escort vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, where commandos of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) impounded a British-flagged ship on July 19.
The ship was impounded in retaliation for the British seizure of a tanker off the coast of Gibraltar earlier in the month. The vessel was carrying two million barrels of Iranian oil.
Iran has taken a hardline approach to America’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and the re-imposition of sanctions, which have brought Rouhani’s government under extreme pressure.
Speaking on Monday, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said Tehran would further reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal if remaining signatories do not help relieve US pressure on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.
After the US cancelled oil waivers to eight major Iranian oil customers in early May, Tehran reduced its commitment under the nuclear deal in two stages and threatened to take further action in early September.