here http://currencymeter.com/wp-includes/general-template.php geneva; font-size: small;”>The 34-mile-wide shipping channel leads in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman.
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The U.S. Navy said Iran’s threat to block the strategically and economically important Strait of Hormuz is unacceptable, CNN reports.
“The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity,” Navy 5th Fleet in Bahrain spokeswoman Cmdr. Amy Derrick Frost told reporters on Wednesday.
“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.”
The remarks have stoked tension after Iran vowed to block the channel if US attempts a military strike on the Islamic republic.
MP Parviz Sorouri said on December 13 that Iran plans to hold a war game in the near future to practice its ability to close the strait.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast stated on December 14 that Iran’s threat of closing the Strait of Hormuz is a response to the United States’ threats against the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s vice president has as well warned the country could block the strait if sanctions are imposed on its exports of crude oil. France, Britain and Germany have proposed sanctions to punish Iran’s lack of cooperation on its nuclear program.
However, as the situation boils, US could move first to bring Iran to order, a development that will surely plunge the Middle East into a crisis.
During a speech in western city of Ilam on Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad said regional countries should be on their guard and vigilant about the plots of the U.S. and its allies.
He said that certain Arab states are completely mistaken if they think that they can appease the U.S. and its allies through purchasing their arms by the oil money and helping the opposition groups of certain regional countries, The Tehran Times reports.
Similarly, the director of Iran’s Interests Section in Cairo, Mojtaba Amani has said the U.S. is fearful of attacking Iran because it fears that the Strait of Hormuz will be closed in the event of an attack.
The countries which are waiting in ambush to find an opportunity to launch a military campaign against Iran are well aware that in the event of an attack, “closing the Strait of Hormuz is among the most likely possibilities,” Amano said.
So they (foreign powers) have to mull such a decision over and over again, he stated.
Amani said that talk of attacking Iran is nothing but a joke, adding that no U.S. military base in the region would remain unaffected in the event of an attack.
The 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, and Frost noted that the Navy “maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities.”
“We conduct maritime security operations under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters for all commercial shipping to operate freely while transiting the region,” she said.
Asked whether the fleet would be able to keep the strait open if Iran moved to close it, she said, “The U.S. Navy is a flexible, multi-capable force committed to regional security and stability, always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.”
Frost was also asked whether keeping the strait open is part of the fleet’s mandate.
She said it is “committed to protecting maritime freedoms that are the basis for global prosperity. This is one of the main reasons our military forces operate in the region.
“The U.S. Navy, along with our coalition and regional partners, operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce.”
The French Foreign Ministry stressed that the waterway is an international strait.
“In consequence, all ships, whatever their flag, enjoy the right of passage in transit, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, adopted in 1982, and with the customary international maritime law,” the ministry said.
Iran is holding a 10-day military exercise in an area from the eastern part of the strait out into the Arabian Sea. Western diplomats describe the maneuvers as further evidence of Iran’s volatile behavior.
Rodrigue told CNN that any move by Iran to close the strait would be “suicidal” to the current regime.
In 2009, 15 million barrels passed through the strait every day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Keep in mind that countries such as China and Japan are more dependent on Persian Gulf oil than the United States,” the professor said.
About 18% of U.S. net petroleum imports come from the Persian Gulf region, while Canada provides 25%, according to Rodrigue.
The scholar, who has written extensively about oil “chokepoints,” said there are no other means to move large quantities of oil over long distance than by maritime transportation.
Hormuz marks the boundary between Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
“It is thus an international issue where the United States, for strategic and historical reasons, is spearheading its security,” Rodrigue said.