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EDITORIAL: Is Iran simply rattling its saber again?


This news story was published on December 31, 2011.
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Tulsa World, Okla.

No country likes rattling its saber more than Iran, other than maybe North Korea.

Therefore, its threat that it will block the Strait of Hormuz if the United State imposes further sanctions comes as no real surprise. Nor would it be jaw-dropping if North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, makes similar threats in the next few weeks or months.

That, of course, doesn’t mean that the U.S. or any other of the civilized countries should take Iran’s bold talk lightly.

The Strait of Hormuz is a vital corridor for moving oil from the Middle East to the West. Iran is strategically positioned to wreak havoc there is it so chooses. The strait leads in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran on one coast and Oman and the United Arab Emirates on the other. It is strategically important because tankers carrying oil travel through it.

Even a fleet of small, armed craft could do significant damage and threaten the world’s oil supply.

Any shutdown or even slowdown of oil through the strait could cause the price of oil to skyrocket, sending the world economy, which already struggling, into dangerous territory. About 18 percent of U.S. net petroleum imports come from the Persian Gulf region. About 15 million barrels of oil pass through the strait every day.

This latest war of words began last week when Iran’s vice president threatened the shutdown if sanctions were imposed on Iran’s exports of crude oil. That was countered by the U.S. Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain responding that “any disruption will not be tolerated.”

The U.S. and European countries are considering the sanctions due to Iran’s continued pursuit of its nuclear program. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, while the West believe Iran is intent on developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran with nuclear weapons would change the balance of power in the Middle East and threaten the entire world. Iran with nuclear missiles would be within easy striking distance of Israel.

 

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is one of the best at saber-rattling. That might be all this is. At least, that is the hope.

 

 

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