Iran foreign minister plays down Hormuz blockade

July 10, 2012 - 3:37 PM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister is playing down his country's threat to close the vital Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for Western sanctions over its nuclear program.

Ali Akbar Salehi insisted Iran would close off the passage for a fifth of the world's oil if its own exports are halted, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency, adding, "but I don't think such a time will ever come."

Salehi's comment Tuesday came after the European Union began enforcing a ban on purchase of Iranian oil. EU imports made up about 18 percent of Iran's oil sales.

The embargo is part of a series of sanctions meant to pressure Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program. The West suspects Iran is aiming to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies that.