Iran threatens to block key oil shipment

Threatens to block key oil shipment

U.S. military officials warned Wednesday that any attempt by Iran to disrupt oil shipments at the mouth of the Persian Gulf “will not be tolerated,” as Iran threatened for the second day in a row to interfere with the critical passageway.

Pentagon spokesman George Little describe the route, the Strait of Hormuz, as an “economic lifeline” vital to stability in the region. He said any attempt to block it would be “problematic.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet warned Iran against disrupting shipments in the strait, saying the U.S. Navy keeps a “robust presence in the region” and is “ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.”

Well as for us we implore this spokesperson and the cadre he represents to be a the ready if anyone starts playing funny little games out there.

“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,” Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich said. And to the good Lt. let “not be tolerated” be an action so strategically planned that if will make Operation Desert Shield look childish.

The warning comes as Iranian officials stand by earlier threats to use the passageway to retaliate if the West imposes new sanctions targeting Tehran’s oil exports over the country’s suspect nuclear program.

Iran’s navy chief warned Wednesday that his country can close the waterway. “Closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces,” Adm. Habibollah Sayyari told state-run Press TV. “Iran has comprehensive control over the strategic waterway.”

On Tuesday, Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi also threatened to close the strait, cutting off oil exports, if the West imposes sanctions on Iran’s oil shipments.

All of this comes at a tense time, as the Iranian navy carries out a 10-day naval exercise that includes dispatching warships and drones over the vital waterway. The exercises are being carried out on the eastern side of the strait and down into the Gulf of Aden and could put Iranian ships on a collision course with U.S. naval vessels.

The strait is just 34 miles wide, and about 20 percent of the world’s oil shipments pass through. Their commanders should know this; furthermore barring any U.S. Naval operations should be met with extreme measures.

The mere threat of closing the strait has caused oil prices to rise above $100 a barrel. The entire Iran navy should at all efforts keep their fleet completely away from any U.S. Naval operations.

With concern growing over a possible drop-off in Iranian oil supplies, a senior Saudi oil official said Gulf Arab nations are ready to offset any loss of Iranian crude.

That reassurance led to a drop in world oil prices. In New York, benchmark crude fell 77 cents to $100.57 a barrel in morning trading. Brent crude fell 82 cents to $108.45 a barrel in London.

But a closure of the strait could temporarily cut off some oil supplies and force shippers to take longer, more expensive routes that would drive oil prices higher. It also potentially opens the door for a military confrontation that would further rattle global oil markets.

The threats underline Iranian concern that the West is about to impose new sanctions that could target Tehran’s vital oil industry and exports.

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