US would not allow Iran to block Strait of Hormuz

The US will not allow Iran to hamper oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, said the US Navy's Fifth Fleet commander.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 30 -- The US will not allow Iran to hamper oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, said the US Navy's Fifth Fleet commander, responding to earlier threats by the leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

"They will not close it. They will not be allowed to close it," said Vice-Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff of the strait, one of the world's most vital waterways for the shipping of hydrocarbons.

His warning followed earlier remarks by Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari who told Iran's Jam-e Jam newspaper that Tehran would use every means available to it to close down the waterway, if attacked.

"Naturally every country under attack by an enemy uses all its capacity and opportunities to confront the enemy. Regarding the main route for exiting energy, Iran will definitely act to impose control on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz," Jafari told Jam-e Jam.

"If there is a confrontation between us and the enemy from outside the region, definitely the scope [of the confrontation] will reach the oil issue," Jafari said, adding, "After this action [of Iran imposing controls on the Gulf waterway], the oil price will rise very considerably."

"This [price rise] might restrain offensive plots against us," he stressed, adding that Israeli forces are currently holding special drills that could be in preparation for a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

The Revolutionary Guards chief warned that Iranian missiles are capable of hitting deep within the state of Israel if it launched any attack against his country, either alone or in collaboration with the US.

Jafari also threatened other countries in the region not to let the US use their territory for an attack on Iran.

"If enemies from outside the region use the soil of regional countries against the Islamic Republic of Iran…the governments of those countries will be responsible, and it is our obvious right to act in the same way against their military capabilities and abilities of enemies anywhere," Jafari said.

Jafari's remarks came as more than 100 Israeli warplanes staged a training exercise with Greece earlier this month to prepare for a possible long-distance strike and as a warning to Tehran, which has been hit with three sets of UN sanctions over its defiance of Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment.

Amid the Iranian threats, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia reportedly have been coordinating and discussing alternative plans to export crude in case of any emergency affecting supply routes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The importance of the strait can hardly be doubted. Last May, the International Energy Agency estimated that some 13.4 million b/d of crude and 2 million b/d of oil products passed through the narrow channel on tankers. No less significant, some 31 million tonnes/year of LNG from Qatar also pass through the waterway.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia's former oil minister warned: "If the US or Israeli forces attack Iran…the oil price would go up to $200[/bbl] immediately. The Strait of Hormuz [would] be shut down by Iran. I do not see the US attacking Iran, based on logical thinking. But you never know (OGJ Online, June 20, 2008).

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