TEHRAN - The commander of the Revolutionary Guards said Iran would impose controls on shipping in the vital Gulf oil transit route if the Islamic Republic came under attack, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
Speculation about a possible attack on Iran because of its disputed nuclear ambitions has risen since a report this month said Israel had practiced such a strike.
"Naturally every country under attack by an enemy uses all its capacity and opportunities to confront the enemy. Regarding the main route for exiting energy, Iran will definitely act to impose control on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz," commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari told Jam-e Jam newspaper.
Iranian officials have in the past sent mixed signals about whether it would use oil as a weapon in any confrontation.
Tension between Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, and the US over its nuclear plans has been one factor helping prop up sky-high oil prices.
Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity. Israel is believed to be the only Middle East state with nuclear arms.
Washington has said it wants diplomacy to end the nuclear row but has not ruled out military action should that fail. Israel has repeatedly threatened attacking Iran, a move that participated in the increase of oil prices.
"If there is a confrontation between us and the enemy from outside the region, definitely the scope (of the confrontation) will reach the oil issue," Jafari said.
"After this action (of Iran imposing controls on the Gulf waterway), the oil price will rise very considerably and this is among the factors deterring the enemies," he said.
He warned countries in the region not to let their territory be used for any attack.
The United States has military stationed in the area, including Iran's neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan. Tehran has often said US troops should withdraw to let regional countries handle their own security.
"If enemies from outside the region use the soil of regional countries against the Islamic Republic of Iran ... the governments of those countries will be responsible and it is our obvious right to act in the same way against their military capabilities and abilities of enemies anywhere," Jafari said.
Jafari also warned Israel against any attack on Iran.
"There is the possibility that by attacking Iranian nuclear sites the enemy (Israel) wants to delay our nuclear activities, but any interruption would be very short since Iranian scientific ability is different from that of Syria and Iraq," Jafari noted.
His comments came after US media reported that more than 100 Israeli warplanes staged a training exercise with Greece earlier this month to prepare for a possible long-distance strike - a manoeuvre seen as a warning to Tehran.
"Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime -- despite all its abilities -- cannot confront it," Jafari warned.
Tehran said it would not initiate any offensive, but if attacked by Israel, Iran will not let Tel Aviv go unpunished.
"Iran will not begin any conflict but will punish any aggressor with force. With determination and using all the options - without limit in time and space," said Mostafa Mohammad Najar, Iran's defence minister last Sunday.