Iran keeps tensions high over oil strait

2011-12-31 17:09

Tehran - Iran on Saturday kept tensions simmering over its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers by readying war game missile tests near the entrance to the Gulf.

The United States has warned a closure of the strait "will not be tolerated" after Iranian Vice President Reza Rahimi's threat this week that "not a drop of oil" will pass through the channel if more Western sanctions are imposed over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Iran has brushed off the warning from the United States, which bases its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf, with Iranian navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari saying it would be "really easy" to close the strait.

A spokesperson for the Iranian navy, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, told state television on Saturday that, "in the next days, we will test-fire all kinds of surface-to-sea, sea-to-sea and surface-to-air as well as shoulder-launched missiles" in the final stages of the war games.

He did not say exactly when the launches would start, but explained they would involve tests of "medium- and long-range missiles" to evaluate their operational effectiveness.

The navy exercises started December 24 and are due to end on Monday.

Twenty percent of the world's oil moves through the Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance of the Gulf, making it the "most important chokepoint" globally, according to information released Friday by the US energy information administration.

Around 14 crude oil tankers per day pass through the narrow strait, carrying a total 17 million barrels. In all, 35% of all seaborne oil transited through there this year.

On Thursday, a US aircraft carrier and an accompanying missile cruiser passed through the zone where the Iranian navy was conducting its drill. US officials insisted it was a routine passage.

No confrontation occurred, though an Iranian military aircraft flew in close to record video of the aircraft carrier, which was then shown on state television.

Analysts and oil market traders have been watching developments in and around the Strait of Hormuz carefully, fearing that the intensifying war of words between arch foes Tehran and Washington could spark open confrontation.

With tensions rising, the United States said it has signed a $29.4bn deal to supply Iran's chief rival in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, with 84 new fighter jets.

The sale was a "strong message" to the Gulf region, Washington said.

More sanctions

Iran is subject to four rounds of UN sanctions over its nuclear programme, which many Western countries allege is being used to develop atomic weapons. Tehran denies the allegation.

The United States and its allies have also imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran's economy.

The last lot of unilateral sanctions triggered a demonstration in Tehran that led to members of the Basij militia controlled by the Revolutionary Guards ransacking the British embassy. London reacted by closing the mission and ordering Iran's embassy in Britain closed.

More sanctions are on the way.

US President Barack Obama is expected to soon sign into law additional restrictions on Iran's central bank, which acts as the main conduit for Iranian oil sales.

The European Union is considering other measures that could include an EU embargo on Iranian oil imports, with foreign ministers to meet on the issue in a month's time.

Iran's oil minister, Rostam Qasemi, told the Aseman weekly that sanctions would cause the price of oil to "increase drastically."

"Sanctions on Iran's oil will drive up the price of oil to at least $200" per barrel, he predicted.

As threats and counter-threats pile up, Iran is also reportedly leaving the door open to resuming long-stalled talks on solving the standoff over its nuclear programme.

Iran's ambassador to Germany, Alireza Sheikh-Attar, told the Mehr news agency on Saturday that "we will soon send a letter, after which (new) talks will be scheduled".

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was also quoted by a website of the state broadcaster as telling a visiting Chinese foreign ministry official that "Iran is prepared for the continuation of nuclear negotiations" on the basis of a Russian proposal.

  • Xavier7034 - 2011-12-31 18:07

    Are they testing the limits?

      Vegi - 2011-12-31 18:49

      What does the US want in an Iranian water way.

      Braam - 2012-01-01 04:58

      The Strait of Hormuz does not belong to Iran..

  • Brian - 2011-12-31 23:42

    Please NEWS 24 , dont turn into Africas version of "Zionist, Fox News ,or the BBC . Leave the lying, disiformation and faked images to them as they are masters of lying black propaganda which they routinely spew out aganist nations targeted by Zionist Impearlist for regime change, Syria, Iran , N. Korea, Russia , etc etc etc. In this report you blantly lie reporting , without a shread of credible evidence , that the protestors were "militia" then you blantly lie again that they are controlled by the Iran Revolutionary Guards. Not even the liars and fradusters at Zionist controlled BBC, Fox News, or the many other western Zionist controlled media dared lie that those who took part in the demostration , which led to the ramsaking of the British (nest of spys and terrorist) Embassy were anything other than students. Why does News 24 have to distort and lie about the facts , that those who organised and took part were anything other than students. Its little wonder that millions of British, Americans, even S. Africans are turning to now Zionist controlled media in America, Europe, Britian to try and seek the truth as to what really going on in places like Iran , Syria, N. Korea, etc as they can no longer trust Zionist controlled media sources. Russia Today which runs 24 hour per day internet News service in English along with other like Press TV have the Zionist controlled western media seriously worried as millons of westerners no longer find them trustworthy.

      Ivan - 2012-01-01 06:49

      Wow what a brain washed little Islamic fundamentalist you are...It must be really scary going out with all the evil zionists lurking around every corner. I forget of course that the places you mentioned, Iran, Syria and N Korea are happy places filled with blue birds of happiness and tranquil fields where everyone feeds each other grapes while harps strum.

      Jerhone - 2012-01-01 09:09

      to Brian yada yada yada yada yada

      Jerhone - 2012-01-01 09:13

      to Mehuli and S.A.citizens are becoming the worlds most interlectual, when is this ever going to end?

      Dirk - 2012-01-01 13:10

      Were you sober when you thought that? If so, go for help urgently

      Jaryd - 2012-01-01 18:35

      Nice to see more and more of us awakening! Embrace the light!

  • Mehluli - 2012-01-01 01:11

    Americans are becoming the most stupid citizens the world have ever produced.When is this going to end.

      cameronrh1 - 2012-01-01 12:34

      Before you start pointing fingers, find a mirror... Preferably one which the "Western" world didnt develope for you.

      Dirk - 2012-01-01 13:12

      And SA is now first in sums. Mathematics is from the Western world

      Juan - 2012-01-01 19:31

      @cameron he better go look for a real shiny rock somewhere, or he can look at his reflection in the water

  • Mehluli - 2012-01-01 01:12

    Obama is a war monger like G W Bush.

      Dirk - 2012-01-01 13:16

      And in Afica the honest, intelligent, hard working "comrade leaders" is taking the continent to new heights- from a small begging bowls to large ones

  • EyesEars - 2012-01-01 17:27

    I honestly wish that the US will STOP poking it's nose in each and every ones business and learn to stand on their own two feet. All in all they and Britian are just a drain on the world economy, with the debt system that were brought in. Leeches!

  • Juan - 2012-01-01 19:28

    I am sure it would be just as easy for the US Navy to unblock the straight. The Iranians can play all the war games they want, and make all the threats they want, but they are no match.

      cameronrh1 - 2012-01-01 21:40

      It would be rather easy for the US navy to unblock the Straits... But you go to a Iranian news website like PressTV or something they say that they are able to destroy and are more superior then the US Navy... Nothing like Iranian government controlled media. The day a news report published in Iran is not state run rubish is the day i will take what they say with a pinch of salt.

      Juan - 2012-01-02 04:22

      @cameron the fact is that the US spend more on their military than the rest of the world combined. Their equipment is so technologically advanced it is unbelievable

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