Amir Hatami
Amir Hatami Reuters

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami threatened to respond with force if Israel's Navy acts against Iranian crude oil ships.

The IRNA news agency quoted Hatami as stating that Iran had the military capacity to protect its shipping lines, even if that included conflict with Israel.

He added that any efforts on Israel's part would constitute "piracy."

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that Iran is attempting to bypass international sanctions by smuggling petroleum via the sea.

"Iran is trying to bypass the sanctions on it through the covert smuggling of petroleum via the sea. As these attempts expand, the navy will have a more important role in efforts to block these Iranian actions," he said then.

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