Iran warned yesterday that it would shut down the Strait of Hormuz if stiffer sanctions were placed against it. The US and its allies believe that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, a charge that is being denied by Iran. Congress has recently passed a bill in both chambers requiring that sanctions be placed on Iran’s Central Bank. Closing down the Strait of Hormuz would stifle world trade and the supply of oil, since 40% of the world’s tanker-borne oil passes through it.
Iran ratcheted up its rhetoric on State television again today, with its Navy chief, Habibollah Sayyari, saying that it would be easy to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.
“Closing the Strait of Hormuz for Iran’s armed forces is really easy … or as Iranians say it will be easier than drinking a glass of water, he said.” “But right now, we don’t need to shut it as we have the Sea of Oman under control and we can control the transit.”
Iran is presently conducting a ten day exercise in the Strait.
The US Navy doesn’t appear to be to concerned over Iran’s threat and stated it would not permit the closure of the Strait.
“The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity,” spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich told the BBC, adding that the Navy would be ready to act if required.
“The US Navy is a flexible, multi-capable force committed to regional security and stability, always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.” BBC
The Pentagon responded to Iran’s threat saying “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.”
John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, dismisses the Iranian threat.
He doesn’t believe that the Iranians have any capability to close the Strait and if they did it would not last longer than three days. In his opinion Iran has a lot to lose and not only its navy. The U.S. Navy is multi-capable and well within reach of Iranian targets. The bottom line is that Iran would attempt a shutdown at its own peril.
America’s addiction to oil makes it vulnerable to Middle East oil producing states. As such one would think that developing North American sources of energy, including the Alberta Oil Sands would be high on the priority of the Obama Administration. Putting Americans in harms way to secure oil does not make a lot of sense.
While Iran’s threats will probably have little impact other than in Iran itself, it is high time that the U.S. work toward a secure and safe supply of energy.