Iranian officer looks at Strait of Hormuz 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi said on Saturday that Iran
is prepared for a situation in which it would need to close the Strait of
Hormuz, but would not do so unless the country’s interests were seriously at
The chief of staff clarified to Iran’s ISNA news agency that Tehran
has a plan for closing the strait, just has it has various other military plans
for different situations.
He also highlighted the importance of the
strait, and said that Iran was acting rationally.
More than a third of
the world’s seaborne oil exports pass through the narrow Strait of Hormuz from
the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and
Qatar. Qatar’s liquefied natural gas exports are all shipped through
The United States has quietly increased its military presence in
the Persian Gulf to deter Tehran from trying to shut the strait, according to a
New York Times report published on Tuesday.
Linking the Persian Gulf with
the Indian Ocean, the strait is used to transport about a fifth of the world’s
oil on a daily basis, and the popular assessment within the IDF is that Iran –
which borders the channel to the north and east – could shut it
Citing a senior Obama administration official, the report stated
that the deployment of a number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into
Iranian territory was partly done to reassure Israel that the US is taking the
Iranian threat seriously. “When the president says there are other options on
the table beyond negotiations, he means it,” the report quoted the official as
The report identified a number of visible elements of the US
buildup in the Persian Gulf, including sending increasing numbers of aircraft,
including the F-22 Raptor, which boasts stealth capabilities, to two bases
there. The planes join jets and carrier strike groups already in the
According to the report, the the US Navy has also been sending
advanced ships capable of enhancing the American ability to patrol the strait
and reopen the waterway should Iran block shipping. In addition, the navy sent a
converted amphibious transport and docking ship and doubled the number of
minesweepers assigned to the region.
“The message to Iran is, ‘Don’t even
think about it,’” the Times quoted a senior US Defense Department official as
saying on condition of anonymity. “Don’t even think about closing the strait.
We’ll clear the mines. Don’t even think about sending your fast boats out to
harass our vessels or commercial shipping. We’ll put them on the bottom of the