closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo
Published: 23 January, 2012, 16:07
Iranian Navy boats take part in
maneuvers during the "Velayat-90" navy exercises in the Strait
of Hormuz in southern Iran (AFP Photo / EBRAHIM NOROOZI)
TAGS: Conflict, Military, EU, Politics, Iran, USA, Vessels
Tensions in the Gulf could reach a breaking point as a senior Iranian
official said Iran would “definitely” close the Strait of
Hormuz if an EU oil embargo disrupted the export of crude oil, the
semi-official Fars news agency reports.
The announcement came in response to a decision by the European Union on
Monday to impose an
oil embargo on Iran over the country’s alleged nuclear weapons
“The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure
that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table,” EU
foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
However, with Washington’s decision to deploy a second carrier
strike group in the Gulf, the EU’s attempt to pressure Iran
economically could greatly increase the likelihood of all-out war in the
The Strait of Hormuz is the vital link between the Persian Gulf and the
Gulf of Oman.
It is also one of the most strategic chokepoints in the world when it
comes to oil transit.
With world oil output estimated at some 88 million barrels per day in
2011, the US Energy Information Administration estimated that some 17
million of those barrels passed through the Strait.
If economic sanctions sufficiently pressure Iran to retaliate by
closing down the Strait, nearly 20 per cent of worldwide oil trade would
be impacted, resulting in a massive spike in global energy costs.
With over half a million regular forces and an additional 120,000
personnel in the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard, analysts
believe the consequences of a US-led war against Iran would dwarf recent
Western-backed military incursions the Middle East.
Thus far, the US decision to maintain two carrier strike groups in the
region has been described as “a routine activity” by
But the vast US military buildup in the region, which was bolstered when
the Pentagon dispatched an
additional 15,000 troops to the neighboring nation of Kuwait, was only
the latest step in an obvious attempt by Washington to strengthen its
military capabilities in the region.
However since 1988, when the United States managed to destroy some 25
per cent of Iran’s larger naval capability during Operation Praying
Mantis, Iran has spent the last two decades preparing its Revolutionary
Guard naval forces to exploit the
vulnerabilities of the United States’ larger conventional
According to Revolutionary Guard commander Brigadier General
Jafaari, "The enemy is far more advanced technologically than we
are, we have been using what is called asymmetric warfare methods…
our forces are now well prepared for it," he said, as cited by
Ultimately, the latest round of brinkmanship between Iran and the
West may force Iran to the negotiating table over its uranium enrichment
However, the EU strategy of averting "chaos in the Middle
East" by tightening the economic noose around Iran could spark
the very conflagration it was ostensibly trying to avert.