January 16, 2012
Could Iran Close the Strait?
During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the United States "reflagged" a number of Kuwaiti oil tankers passing through the narrow and dangerous Strait of Hormuz. The confidence inspired by that action encouraged other tankers to make the trip, and the U.S. Navy was the guarantor of millions of barrels of oil. Today the question of security for tankers in the Strait arises again, with Iran threatening to block the waterway. How might Iran accomplish this, and what resources could the U.S. bring to counter what would be understood internationally as an act of war? (The Egyptian closure of the Straits of Tiran in May 1967 was the act of war to which Israel responded in June -- the Six-Day War.) Iran-watchers lean heavily on the argument that Iran will not mine or otherwise damage the Strait because then Iranian oil won't be able to pass through either. They posit that the Iranians are unlikely to take an approach that costs them oil revenue, particularly...(Read Full Article)