The war of words between Iran and the United States escalated sharply on Thursday with a top military commander of Iran dismissing the warning from Washington not to close the Strait of Hormuz ??? the principal gateway through which the world’s oil supplies pass.Hossein Salami, deputy chief of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced on state-run Press TV that the ???Islamic Republic of Iran asks for no other country’s permission for the implementation of its defence strategies.??? He was responding to a Pentagon statement which asserted that Tehran’s interference ???with the transit or passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated???.Tensions have heightened after the U.S. began to prepare for sanctions that would cripple Iran’s oil exports ??? the lifeline of the country’s economy.With these sanctions possibly kicking in next month, Iran’s First Vice President had on Tuesday threatened to block oil supplies flowing out of Gulf terminals from the Strait of Hormuz. A day later, Iran’s naval chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said his country would find it ???very easy??? to close the Strait the Hormuz ??? a prospect which can cause oil prices to zoom and undermine the fledgling recovery of the ailing western economies.The back-and-forth between the Iranians and the Americans have acquired a sharper edge as both sides are backing their threats with large deployments of warships in an area east of the Strait of Hormuz.The Iranian navy’s ongoing exercise is being closely monitored by several U.S. warships which have been deployed in the vicinity, say media reports. Coinciding with its show of military strength, the Iranians on Wednesday asserted that the West was losing its ideological influence worldwide. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei whose pronouncements echo in large parts of West Asia said that the U.S. had no control over the wave of uprisings in Arab countries, which were bringing Islamists into power.Speaki
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