Upping The Ante Over The Straits

News Brief – December 27, 2011

Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned Tuesday that Iran would stop the passage of oil through the Straits of Hormuz if sanctions were applied to Iranian oil.
About 40% of the world’s tanker borne oil currently passes through the straits.
“We are not interested in any hostility or and our motto is friendship and brotherhood”, the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Rahimi as saying, “but westerners are not willing to abandon their plots.”
Rahimi’s warning has been underlined by naval manoeuvres Iran is carrying out in its southern waters.
In addition to war games involving submarines and destroyers, the Iranian navy has also practised using surveillance drones and firing anti-ship missiles.
Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi’s warning follows repeated Western threats over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
AFP quoted Rahimi as saying: “If sanctions are adopted against Iranian oil, not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz.”
On Sunday the Iranian navy warned off a “foreign” helicopter that was observing the naval manoeuvres. It did not identify the helicopter’s nationality. 
Commentators have cautioned that the closure of the straits would send oil prices soaring and seriously jeopardise the prospects for global economic recovery.
With such high stakes involved markets have been nervously watching the 10-day naval exercise.
Beyond flaunting its growing naval abilities, the exercise dubbed Velayat 90 seems calculated to emphasise Iran’s hold over the Straits of Hormuz.
Different classes of submarines, including Tareq and Qadir, the newest ground-to-sea missile systems and torpedoes have all been employed in the “Velayat 90” maneuvers.
Commenting on the naval exercise on Tuesday, Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted that its main purpose seemed to be practising closing off the strategic waterway.
According to an Iranian naval spokesman, ships and aircraft also practised dropping off mines in the straits on Tuesday.