Iran has denied accusations that its Revolutionary Guard was planning to cause an environmental disaster in the Strait of Hormuz and use it to have international sanctions lifted.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that it had evidence of a plan by the Revolutionary Guard commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, to cause an oil spill to block crude exports, crucial to the global economy, through the strait.
The report did not reveal its source, but said the aim was to “punish” oil-exporting Gulf Arab states hostile to Iran and force the West to request Iranian help with the clean-up operation.
Der Spiegel said: “A decontamination would only be possible with technical help from the Iranian authorities and for this, the embargo would have to be at least temporarily lifted”.
“These words show that western nations have been brought low and have resorted to making any allegation against us,” said Mohammed Reza Naqdi, the head of Iran’s Basij militia. “The [Arabian] Gulf is a part of the waters and territory of Iran and polluting it would also affect us.”
Mr Naqdi’s comments were reported by local media but also appeared on the official website of the Basij, Iran’s civil defence militia, which takes its orders from the Revolutionary Guard.
Around 40 per cent of the world’s seaborne oil exports pass through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has previously threatened to disrupt or close the waterway if its nuclear sites are attacked by Israel or the United States.