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Tensions between US and Iran escalated recently when Iran threatened to block a vital sea route mainly used for oil transit. Iran’s navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari recently warned that shutting the Strait of Hormuz to oil traffic would be “easier than drinking a glass of water”.
Sayari was speaking the day after Vice president Mohammad Reza Rahimi threatened to close the strait if the West imposed more sanctions on Iran. The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow corridor through which one-third of the worlds’ seaborne oil exports transits; Iran has comprehensive control over the strategic waterway.
It is an important narrow bend of water between Iran and Oman. The strait is 21 miles across and just about 2 miles wide of navigable channels. The strait is a choke point linking the Gulf’s Oil-exporting states of Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the Indian Ocean.
The Strait is a key corridor for oil shipments, along with other bulk oil, exported through this route that travel to China, Western Europe and United States. All of this started when Vice president Rahimi warned that if the west broadens sanctions against Iran amid nuclear deadlock, “then not a drop of oil [would] pass through the Strait of Hormuz.”
Later on, the US Navy’s Fifth fleet shot back with a warning that any attempt to disrupt tariff trade in the Strait won’t be accepted. “We’re in the game of threats. If you’re going to cut them out of the oil market, they have no interest in the flow of oil from the region”, said Vali Nasr, Tufts University Professor.
The Iran navy has begun a 10-days exercise in the area near the strategic Oil route. If Iran abandoned tougher sanctions from the international oil market, it has threatened the closure of Strait. The exercise involves submarines, missiles, drills, torpedoes and drones.
In recent days, pressure from the Western world took new heights on Iran over ambitions of its nuclear program and the deadlock over its potential use. State Department spokeswomen Victoria Nuland said Iran Exhibited “irrational behavior”, over its warning to disrupt oil traffic in the region.
And again Iran roared back on the US and brought the threats to the next level, when Iran’s revolutionary guards commander said that the “US was not in a position to tell Tehran what to do in the Strait.” Over the last 10 years or so there has been a rift between Iran and international community, over its nuclear enrichment program.