US calls Hormuz Strait int'l territory

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The United States on Wednesday dismissed Iran's fresh call for all foreign warships to get permission to pass through the Hormuz Strait, saying it is an international territory.

An Iranian missile is launched during Iranian naval maneuvers dubbed Velayat 90 on the Sea of Oman, Iran, Jan. 2, 2012. Iran successfully test-fired long range and short range missiles during its military drill in the Strait of Hormuz on Jan. 2, 2012. [Xinhua]

In reply to a query about Iran's latest move, state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that "I think you know the answer to that. We consider this international territory."

"This is the kind of bluster that indicates that they're feeling pressure," she said at a regular press briefing. "But we believe that the United States needs to continue to play the global role that we have played for a long time in terms of ensuring and promoting freedom of navigation in international waters and our policy will continue to reflect that."

She called "very good news" the European Union's agreement in principle to ban crude oil imports from Iran, saying "These are the kinds of steps that we would like to see not just from our close allies and partners in places like Europe but from countries around the world, because we do believe that this is consistent with tightening the noose on Iran economically."

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill last week with provisions asking for new sanctions on Iran, targeting foreign financial institutions that do business with the Islamic republic' s central bank, the main conduit for its oil revenues.

Iran threatened last week to close the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most critical oil route, while the Pentagon warned against such a move.

Iran's Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi warned on Tuesday against the return of the USS John C. Stennis, one of the U.S. Navy's biggest aircraft carriers, which left the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman during Iran's recent navy drill in the Strait of Hormuz.

Nader Qazipour, an Iranian lawmaker, said on Wednesday that "If the military vessels and warships of any country want to pass through the Strait of Hormuz without coordination and permission of Iran's Navy forces, they should be stopped by the Iranian Armed Forces."

He said that the Iranian lawmakers were working on a relevant plan.

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