December 28, 2011
For the second time in two days, Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if new sanctions are imposed in response to its nuclear program.
Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi threatened on Tuesday to close down the strait and cut off oil exports if the West imposes sanctions on his country’s oil shipments.
“If they impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz,” Rahimi said.
“Closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces,” Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told Iran’s state-run Press TV on Wednesday. “Iran has comprehensive control over the strategic waterway.”
Sayyari is head of Iran’s navy and is currently overseeing a military exercise in a 2,000-kilometer stretch of sea from the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, to the Gulf of Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea.
“Iran’s military and Revolutionary Guards can close the Strait of Hormuz. But such a decision should be made by top establishment leaders,” he said last week.
The Tehran Times reported on Monday that the “war games” are different from previous ones in terms of the vastness of the area of action and the military equipment and tactics employed. Submarines, warships, missile-firing destroyers, coast-to-sea missile systems, drones, and electronic warfare equipment will be tested during the exercises, according to the newspaper.
The Strait of Hormuz is the only access for eight Gulf Arab states producing oil for foreign markets. It is “the world’s most important oil chokepoint,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Despite the fact an oil embargo imposed on Iran will raise the price of oil in the United States, Congress went ahead and approved the new sanctions last week.
“Congress’s point of view is that we may be running a risk that this will increase the price of oil but that compared to [the risk of ] Israeli or U.S. military strikes on Iran or a nuclear-armed Iran, the oil market impact of these sanctions will pale in comparison,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a neocon think-tank, told NPR.
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