UK warns Iran over oil passageway threat

2012-01-06 09:31

London - Britain's defence secretary warned Iran on Thursday that any attempt to block the key global oil passageway the Strait of Hormuz would be illegal and unsuccessful — hinting at a robust international response.

During his first visit to the Pentagon for talks with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, Philip Hammond told the Atlantic Council in Washington that the presence of British and American naval ships in the Persian Gulf would ensure the route is kept open for trade.

Iran has threatened to close the route in possible retaliation to new US and European economic sanctions, a tactic the US already has said it would not tolerate.

About one-sixth of the world's oil passes on tankers through the Strait of Hormuz, and analysts have warned the price of Brent crude could temporarily jump to as high as $210 if the strait is closed.

"Disruption to the flow of oil through Strait of Hormuz would threaten regional and global economic growth. Any attempt by Iran to do this would be illegal and unsuccessful," said Hammond, who was appointed as Britain's top defence minister in October.

Britain has already downgraded ties with Iran following a major attack on its embassy in Tehran in November, which it insists was sanctioned by Tehran's ruling elite.

In response, Britain pulled all of its diplomats out of Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from UK soil.

Though Hammond did not specifically threaten a military response if Iran blocks the movement of oil tankers, he warned Tehran that both British and US forces would be close at hand.

"It is in all our interests that the arteries of global trade are kept free, opening and running," Hammond said. "For example, our joint naval presence in the Arabian Gulf, something our regional partners appreciate, is key to keeping the Strait of Hormuz open for international trade."

The US and the 27-nation EU imposed sanctions against Iran over its contentious nuclear program, which the West insists is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge, claiming the programme aims to generate civilian electricity and produce medical radioisotopes needed to treat cancer patients.

US officials have said the Navy?s Fifth Fleet, based in nearby Bahrain, is prepared to defend the shipping route.

  • Jerzy - 2012-01-06 09:45

    The US and all its stooge allies should focus on their dwindling economies instead of drawing the world into a war that could possibly engulf the entire region if not the world. All this because they are "attempting to build a secret nuclear weapon", which other countries already possess including Israel. Iran has not attacked a single country in the last 50 years, however the same could not be said for the US, UK and Israel which are all nuclear powers. In conclusion, "get off your high horse, because your broke, and therefore dont own the world."

      Barry - 2012-01-06 09:58

      Well said. I will add all the tensions cause by the USA and its lap dogs like the UK and for what reason ? Where is the proof of this nuclear weapons strategy of Iran ?

      Blade - 2012-01-06 10:06

      Where would you prefer to live? The US or Iran?

      DiamondDirk - 2012-01-06 10:18

      Neither. I'll stick to SA.

      jim.dickson2 - 2012-01-06 10:20

      The attack on Iraq? Or did Iraq attack them? The whole attitude of Tehran is one of aggressive behaviour. The time to kick their shins is approaching.

      Bernard - 2012-01-06 10:35

      The only country behaving dangerously in the strait of Hormuz is Iran. It has single-handendly created "the tensions" you refer to. The impact of Iran's antics will be felt everywhere, including SA as global oil prices rise. As for the US and its "stooge allies" as you put it? The entire European Union and its 27 members, are siding with the US and the UK on the Iran nuclear issue. Check the facts and not allow your blind opposition to the US to cloud your views. It's a remarkable form of ignorance!

      Craig - 2012-01-06 10:50

      Whatever you are using... Half the dose. The Strait is international waters.Fact! Blocking international waters is considered an act of War! In the case of Israel... Fact! It has no strategic depth... Fact. You can't defend without strategic depth, which means Israel must attack to defend... Fact. Pop quizz... A#hole.... What would you do if you are surrouded by rabid fanatics preaching your destruction????? Fact

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 11:06

      In terms of cold hard strategic logic, there is no country on earth as surrounded by enemies as Iran. The US Imperial Army is camped out on both Eastern (Afghanistan) & Western (Iraq) borders. To the North are oligarchic US allies & to the South are the decadent, dynastic & despotic Arab regimes - ALL in utter dread of the very NOTION of an Islamic Republic. And of course The Zionist-Apartheid Entity is a Nuclear Power of the first order. Seen in this context, one may intuit that some Iranians may hanker for the Dark Cold-War Logic of Mutually Assured Destruction, by way of a deterrence, MAD as it may seem to others. Given how surrounded they are be enemies (including the very-much-nuclear-armed Israel), it's also perfectly understandable that they want to want the nuclear club, of only because the case studies of the treatment of Iraq/Afghanistan/North Korea shows that the US will leave you well alone if you already have the weapons. I wish for a nuclear-free world; but given that there are now 9 nuclear countries, any responsible leader should be seeking them for the reasons highlighted by the UK government in its review of the nuclear deterrent; otherwise, it would be a dereliction of duty on their part to protect their citizens from "shock and awe".

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 11:14

      The very best that can be said of your confusing attempts to claim that an actual Israeli bomb is an instrument of peace and joy for all, whereas a putative Iranian bomb is reason enough for World War III, is that they are no more nonsensical than the similar 'arguments' to this effect we have seen so many times before.

      Juan - 2012-01-06 12:12

      Hang on Iran as openly vowed to distroy Israel. They are doing everything they can to get the means to do that. If somebody vows to kill you, what would you think this person's intentions would be when they go out and buy a gun the next day? Should the West just wait and twiddle their fingers and wait for the bomb to fall? Should they just stand by when Iran disrupts the global oil supply and say, "shame, oh well, poor Iran"? It's wat you guys want don't you? You are mad

      Matthew - 2012-01-06 12:14

      Graziella, your points are well presented and mature. Even if I dont agree with you.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:34

      @Juan "Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine." Ahmedinajed But to commute a demand for removal of a 'regime' into a demand for removal of a state is serious deception and dangerous demagogy. He expressed the desire for Zionism to be wiped off the page of history, like fascism, communism etc. Which is hardly the same thing. This is the kind of monstrous, barefaced lying of which only zionists and are capable!

      Juan - 2012-01-06 12:42

      @Graziella that kinda reminds me of what Hitler said; he also wanted the zionists wiped from the pages of history. His intentions were never to harm a jew

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 13:33

      I see a big future for this approach. After all, if you kill someone for something he (supposedly) did, there would always be weirdos that would demand a proof of the deed. They can even dig out some contradicting facts. But when you kill someone for something he thought to do, "thoughtcrime", so to speak, there is no way someone can prove that you killed a person, or some thousands of people, for nothing.

      Barry - 2012-01-07 15:07

      Unfortunately none of commentators above, supporting the USA (western) position to war with Iran can even comment of the need for proof of a nuclear weapons program in Iran. I believe this because they all have an extremely week argument to go to war with Iran.

  • Garth - 2012-01-06 10:24

    The Strait of Hormuz is not Iran's to close. Most of the Persian/Arabian Gulf states' oil passes through that strategic opening. Britain and the USA have a world interest in keeping that strait open and if only China and Russia would also voice their objections by force, this sabre would be sheathed. Most of China's oil passes through this gap, do you really think that they wish for the world price of oil to pass $200.00 per barrel. Iran is trying to divert attention away from its evil plan of islamic world domination, but no one is buying it. Agreed that Iraq was the aggressor in that particular war, but Iran still attacked Iraq in that war, so @jerzy - you are incorrect.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 10:42

      Islamic world domination, now that's a first. Sanctions are an act of war and Iran is right to reciprocate. In the old days it was referred to as a SIEGE (no goods leaving or entering a city).

      Juan - 2012-01-06 12:24

      @graziella Iran has expelled the nuclear inspectors from the AEC. They are loonies trying to obtain a nuclear weapon. The West has done what they can to prevent them from doing so by peacefull means. All they have to do is open up and let the inspectors in and prove to the world that their nuclear program is for peacefull purposes, and the sanctions will go away. But like their brothers in North Korea they want to operate in secret, make provocative statements and military threats. Of course they have the right to reciprocate, but that would prove to be foolhardy of them. You wait and see

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:44

      Why should Iran allow IAEA stooges to snoop at their nuclear programme, the same IAEA that was used in Iraq to come up with fictional WMDs. Even if Iran were to develop one what business of Britain is it? Who died and put Cameron in charge of the world? Besides it is 2011 not 1911. Why is the west the moral authority on Nuclear weapons when it is the only alliance in world history to ever drop one.....?

      Juan - 2012-01-06 12:51

      The use of nuclear weapons by the USA in 1945 was justified. There would have been more than a million left dead had the USA been forced to stop Imperial Japan by conventional means. And I might ad that Japan together with Germany were the agressors. Japan attacked Pearl Harbour

  • Craig - 2012-01-06 10:42

    Too all the chops that think Iran are right... Don't even think of Bitching when you are paying over R25/l for fuel. Are going to trust some Rabid Iranian fundamentalist with nuclear power?

      Dayaan - 2012-01-06 10:54

      So you would rather trust a Rabid Israeli fundamentalist that like spitting on 8 year old girls with nuclear weapons

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 11:16

      Implicit in the threat to bomb Iran is an assumption of racial superiority - which is articulated by the argument that only western countries like the USA, France and Britain, led by paragons of restraint, probity and intellect like Bush, Reagan, Blair, Sarkozy and Cameron, can be trusted with nuclear weapons.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 11:53

      The US, Britain, France and other elites in the ME clealy see an opportunity within the Iranian banking and energy sectors - its obvious that this aggression is a clear case of present day neo-colonialism against a national government which refuses to become a supplicant of western multinationals, backed by Western and Arab corporate interests. The Empire is trying to gain that which it has lost.

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-01-06 12:21

      I won't trust any country run by Muslims with nuclear weapons, because their religion tends to to easily make them become hostile.

      Juan - 2012-01-06 12:35

      @Dayaan Isreal has had nuclear weapons for many years, and despite numerous attacks on Israel, they have never used them. Even in the face of threats made by Iran and their obvious determination in succeeding in doing that Israel have not used a nuclear weapon. So I would say yes, they could be trusted. I do not like nuclear weapons, it's a threat to our survival, but amoungst the nations who possess it, I certianly do not trust China and Russia

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:48

      The other hostile people have been the Christian fundamentalists who have made their way into the corridors of power in the White House. They beleieve that a Armaggedon will takes place in the Holy land. They have shown themselves to be irrational.

      Juan - 2012-01-06 12:55

      @Graziella it's not the 60's anymore, those guys have long since passed on

      Dayaan - 2012-01-06 14:16

      @Juan Yes Israel has had nuclear weapons for many years but thru their Samson Doctrine they have used the threat of using their nuclear weapons on many occasions to get the USA and its lapdogs to do its bidding, they have even threatened a Russian ambassador with the use of nuclear weapons in a second strike option if they are attacked even with conventional weapons. Most of Israels nuclear weapons are second strike not first strike weapons. They boasted/threatened that they have developed a suitcase version which they thru diplomatic post, which is not allowed to be searched, have taken it into several European countries including Russia as a guarantee that these nations would side by them in preventing them from being attacked.

  • Craig - 2012-01-06 11:22

    @Dahaan. Get your history straight, How many times has Israel been attacked and have not used Nukes. What happens when some ignorant raporter makes cartoons of the prophet??? Innocent people are killed all over the world. Don't even think of playing the innocent/oppressed card with me.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-06 12:06

      How many times has Israel thru deceptive provocation managed to get others to attack them so that they can ultimately play the victim. The biggest deception has been the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. They knew that it is a intelligence / communications vessel and knew that if the USS Liberty was not removed from the scene then the world would know that they provoked the war, so the first step the friendly Israeli IDF did was to bomb the USS Liberty to hell. Ask any of the survivors of this callous attack of how many times they asked the friendly Israeli IDF pilots not to attack them since they are a US Intelligence / Communications Warship. And this is only one example of friendly Israeli deceptive tactics used to provoke someone to attack them so that they can play the innocent victim

      Tom - 2012-01-06 15:09

      Please do not forget that the bulk of the ''innocent'' people who died during the ''cartoon protests'' were actually the protestors themselves!

  • Graziella - 2012-01-06 11:30

    "International response" being a euphemism for the US and the EU. Given that the Islamic Republic has never had good relations with 'the west', but does maintain good relations with several other world powers, talk of their 'increasing isolation' is just another empty platitude, and more wishful thinking than any real reflection on Iran's foreign relations.

  • Dayaan - 2012-01-06 12:08

    Iran has been the target of the USA and the west since their friend and buddy the dictator Shah of Iran got kicked out and the USA got a bloody nose from the Ayatollah's. The USA and their lapdogs then armed and used their other friend and buddy the dictator Saddam Hussein to wage a proxy war on there behalf against Iran. When this did not succeed they made up a story of weapons of mass destruction to destabilise Iraq and hang their friend and buddy the dictator Saddam Hussein in the same time they have been forming plans to eliminate the leaders of a country Iran that dared to stand up against them. The USA and its lapdogs are the perfect bullies do as i say or i kill you. The USA and its lapdogs might just find out that they have bitten off more than what they can chew with their mischievous behavior.

  • Dayaan - 2012-01-06 12:48

    The phrase the “Samson Option” is used to describe Israel’s strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against “enemy” nations should its existence as a Jewish state be jeopardized through military attack. Israeli leaders created the term in the mid-1960s, inspired by the Biblical figure Samson, who destroyed a Philistine temple, killing himself and thousands of Philistine enemies. According CIA reports Israel now may have as many as 400 atomic and hydrogen nuclear weapons, as well as the ability to launch them via long range missiles, submarines and aircraft. It can use them in a second strike even if its military is devastated.Originally a strategy of last resort retaliation - even if it means Israel’s annihilation - it has developed into being a nuclear bullying strategy to further Israel’s territorial goals through threats and blackmail. Israel has bullied not only Arab and Muslim nations, but the United States and Russia with its Samson Option threats. Mordechai Vanunu has alleged that Israel uses for purposes of blackmail its ability to "bombard any city all over the world, and not only those in Europe but also those in the United States." They told a Russian ambassador to back off since they also have developed a suitcase nuclear bomb with which they can attack any city anywhere in the world.

      Garth - 2012-01-06 13:45

      Tom Clancy, wasn't it?

      Dayaan - 2012-01-06 14:17

      No this is not fiction of the Tom Clancy genre. Do your research you might be mildly shocked as to what the deceiving Israelis have been up to.

      Garth - 2012-01-06 16:34

      I am not anti-Israel and I am most certainly not pro- all the idiots that want to wipe another country from the face of this earth, so why should I indulge in `conspiracy theory' research.

  • Graziella - 2012-01-06 12:56

    If Britain requires a nuclear deterrent, why not Iran? Perhaps China should bomb the UK back to the stone age, too? They have threatening nuclear weapons, after all, and they're militarily more powerful than them, so it would be totally okay. I wonder what would happen if Germany decided to ignore its military sanctions and begin a nuclear programme....? That certainly might shake things up a little in the Eurozone.

      Juan - 2012-01-06 13:07

      Well China will be commiting suicide if they do so. Don't you think NATO have that one covered?

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-06 13:48

    Hammond like his american counterparts is little more than a lying pig. The strait of Hormuz and specifically the three mile wide shipping lane is within Iran's 9 mile territorial waters. The UN Resolution on international trade routes specifically recognizes and documents Iran's right not only to dictate the rules of use of the shipping lane by international shipping, but also enforce compliance with those regulations from the rest of the world (section 40 through 42) . Any action by the US or Britain in this respect would be an act of aggression and unlawful. One of the most interesting violations in regards to this is the requirement for submersibles to travel through the straight surfaced and flying its flag of origin something the US has refused to do. Irrespective of any personal opinions as to Iran's motives, in this instance it is Britain and the US who are acting unlawfully, something the two countries have been doing a lot of lately. People need to start realizing that the US is the biggest threat to world peace in modern times, and that if they are not prohibited from warmongering they will intentionally start a war to gain access to even more oil fields which is their only objective.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-06 14:12

    I can't believe how many people are sitting here saying the strait of Hormuz is international waters ......l"FACT!" 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea Which among other things states that; Article 40 and 42 give specific rights to the coastal state to dictate the rule and regulations of the use of their waters by foreign war vessels and civilian shipping and compels them to comply with those rules, something the US has refused to do. article 25, paragraph 3, of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 stipulates that a coastal State may, without discrimination in form or in fact among foreign ships, suspend temporarily, in specified areas of its territorial sea the innocent passage of foreign ships if such suspension is essential for the protection of its security, including weapons exercises. People like Craig Stephen Pepper and company have achieved little more than to show their total ignorance. Irrespective of any personal views on Iran or the US, the comments posted here show nothing more than total ignorance and and the normal western attitude of entitlement. Any action by and state in response to a closing of the Iranian held sections of the strait will be illegal in terms of international law and a declaration of war......but then again neither the US or Britain are new to breaking international law or lying and manipulating information to suit their needs.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 14:39

      This warmongering is disgusting. What gives the west the right to interfere?! Leave Iran alone and they'll leave the west alone. This hogwash that is propagated on these threads about mad Mullahs, crazy leaders the likes of Ahmadinejad, rigged elections, and to terrorize the world with yet nonexisting nuclear warheads means that the propaganda specialists are having a hayday ! The hate and warmongers are busy looking for a reason to get at the Iranian Oil ! Not happy with that, the warmongers are poking the Russians regarding their refusal to co-operate with Moscow regarding the Defense Shield. China is also being surrounded, how it dared to be succesfull economically and militarily. The US, UK, Israel and France to a lesser extent are all ROGUE states out of control.

      Tom - 2012-01-06 15:17

      Since when does the ''law'' mean anything......they make the law as they go along......the invasion of Iraq was not in accordance with the law but do you see Bush or Blair at the ICC or those countries being punished by the UN for breaking the law? Its the wild west out there....the man with the biggest IS the law! Unfortunately.....

  • Takunda Makoni Naithan - 2012-01-06 18:10

    united states interferes in other countries matters as if they know everything, they commit crimes against humanity but no country says anything to them, they killed a lot of civilians in Iraq but no one was prosecuted for that, how did they even know Iran is making nuclear bombs? That what they said about Iraq but we latter discovered they was nothing like that after people were killed. TO HELL WITH AMERICA

  • Nkululeko - 2012-01-06 22:39

    china 'owns' +-80% of 'america's ' debt. they are also a major trade partner.adding to this problem, they somehow allowed china to manufacture almost everything american...(china's labour laws). ceteris paribus, they have them by the balls. america not only knows this, they have sweat their way off the obesity podium. anyway, uncle sam aint taking this sh8. he found china's weakness. appetite!!!! if america controls all the oil they, that's a reversal, and china's in a full nelson. 1,2,3 game set match! now this seems rather harsh, but what do you think?

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