Iran-US Hormuz brinkmanship worsens

2011-12-29 16:31

Tehran - A showdown between Iran and the United States over Tehran's threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers worsened on Thursday with warships from each side giving weight to an increasingly bellicose exchange of words.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards rejected a warning that the US military would "not tolerate" such a closure, saying they would act decisively "to protect our vital interests".

The tough language came as Iran's navy said a US aircraft carrier entered a zone where its ships and aircraft were in the middle of 10 days of war games designed to be a show of military might.

The area was in waters to the east of the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point at the entrance to the Gulf through which more than a third of the world's tanker-borne oil passes.

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned this week that "not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz" if the West followed through with planned additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

A US Defence Department spokesperson replied with a declaration on Wednesday that "interference with the transit... of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated."

But Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, told Fars news agency Thursday that "our response to threats is threats".

"We have no doubt about our being able to carry out defensive strategies to protect our vital interests - we will act more decisively than ever," he was quoted as saying.

"The Americans are not qualified to give us permission" to carry out military strategy, he said.

Inside manoeuvre zone

Iran's navy chief, Admiral Habibollah Sayari, said the US aircraft carrier was monitored by Iranian forces as it passed from the Strait of Hormuz to the Gulf of Oman, according to state television.

The network showed footage of an aircraft carrier being followed by an Iranian plane.

An Iranian navy spokesperson, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, told the official IRNA news agency the aircraft carrier went "inside the manoeuvre zone" where Iranian ships were conducting their exercises.

He added that the Iranian navy was "prepared, in accordance with international law, to confront offenders who do not respect our security perimeters during the manoeuvres."

The US aircraft carrier was believed to the USS John C Stennis, one of the American navy's biggest warships.

US officials said on Wednesday that the ship and its accompanying carrier strike group was moving through the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States maintains a navy presence in the Gulf in large part to ensure oil traffic there is unhindered.

Target the Strait

Iran, which is already subject to several rounds of sanctions over its nuclear programme, has repeatedly said it could target the Strait of Hormuz if attacked or its economy is strangled.

Such a move could cause havoc on world oil markets, disrupting the fragile global economy.

Its navy manoeuvres included the laying of mines and the use of aerial drones, according to Iranian media. Missiles and torpedoes were to be test fired in coming days.

Analysts and oil market traders are watching the developing situation in and around the Strait of Hormuz carefully, fearing a spark could ignite open confrontation between the long time foes.

The United States had proposed a military hotline between Tehran and Washington to defuse any "miscalculations" that could occur as their navies brush against each other. But Iran in September rejected that offer.

  • david.lebethe - 2011-12-29 16:50

    I fear for worse when Zuma and Jonathan, his Nigerian counterpart are summoned to US or Europe sometime in the future. It would be spell for doom for World peace and stability in the region since characterised by divisions and allegiance to America.

      wesleywt - 2011-12-29 17:55

      lol Iran threatens the world and you blame America.

      Barry - 2011-12-30 08:18

      It is time the USA just get out of the middle east entirely militarily and start thinking about working for peace with the rest of the world instead of going to war with it.

      Ceorl - 2011-12-30 08:29

      Nuclear proliferation (the construction of new nuclear weapons) threatens the world.

      RE - 2011-12-30 10:26

      lol, USA dont know who n what they f*cking with.

      cameronrh1 - 2012-01-01 21:41

      @Re a bunch of radical brainwashed fools?

  • Habib - 2011-12-30 09:05

    Iraq , Afganistan, vietnam, panama , soon the whole world will be an american target.

  • John - 2012-01-01 13:34

    Hummmm The Iranians thought lets block the straight with an exercise just before the next american convoy arrives. The americans decided, they gave us no notice of their exercise, we will just ignore it, and show them our flags, on top of our beautiful big and modern warships...capable not only of wiping out the Iranian fleet, but every Iranian naval base too! Lets see: Iranian naval fleet wiped out. Lets be generous: american aircraft carrier strike force wiped out. Iranian naval bases and ports wiped out. Enter the Iranian Air Force, Iranian Air force wiped out. There are more than enough american navy and air force units to totally wipe out the iranian navy and air force. Really. And under a surprise attack, it is the rednecks of the USA navy and air force which have the authority to react, NOT the clown politicos in Washington. The Iranians will be wiped out before the political clowns in Washington even get woken up out of bed...

      cameronrh1 - 2012-01-01 21:46

      This is so true, but no need to be generous on the US's part, doubt they will even loose a carrier. And one carrier alone is able to wipe out their fleet and cripple Iran and its Airfor too. But try telling that to Iranian who is fed constant state run media, cause they dont have freedom of press, speach in their country.

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