A spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet is warning Iran that any disruption of traffic flowing through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil route, "will not be tolerated."

Iran's navy chief warned earlier Wednesday that the Islamic Republic was ready and willing to close the strategic waterway if the West imposes news sanctions targeting Tehran's oil exports over the country's suspect nuclear program.

"Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated," said Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich.

She said the U.S. Navy is "always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation."

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