Friday, 30 December 2011

US Can’t “Tolerate” Closure of Hormuz Strait, EU to Pursue Sanctions on Iran despite Hormuz Closure Threat

US Can’t “Tolerate” Closure of Hormuz Strait

Local Editor

The United States warned against the closure of Hormuz strait, saying it would “not be tolerated”.

"This is not just an important issue for security and stability in the region, but is an economic lifeline for countries in the Gulf, to include Iran,'' George Little, Pentagon press secretary, said on Wednesday.
"Interference with the transit or passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated,"
For its part, the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet said, also on Wednesday it will not allow any disruption of traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.

"The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity," a spokesperson for the Bahrain-based fleet said in a written response to queries from Reuters news agency about the possibility of Iran trying to close the waterway.
"Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated."

Asked whether it was taking specific measures in response to the threat to close the Strait, the fleet said it "maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities", without providing further detail.

The Strait of Hormuz is a 6.4km wide channel between Iran and Oman at the mouth of the Gulf through which more than one-third of the world's tanker-borne oil, or about 15 million barrels of oil, pass daily.

The US remarks come after Iran's vice-president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, said: “"If sanctions are adopted against Iranian oil, not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz."

Iran's navy chief said on Wednesday that it would be 'very easy' for his country's forces to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, "Iran has comprehensive control over the strategic waterway," Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told state-run Press TV, as the country was in the midst of a 10-day military drill near the strategic waterway.

"We have no desire for hostilities or violence ... but the West doesn't want to go back on its plan to impose sanctions," Sayyari said.
"The enemies will only drop their plots when we put them back in their place."
Source: Agencies

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The European Union is pressing ahead with plans to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran; an EU spokesman said Wednesday after Tehran threatened to close the strait of Hormuz should the sanctions applied.

“The European Union is considering another set of sanctions against Iran and we continue to do that," Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, told AFP.

"We expect the decision will be taken in time for the foreign affairs council on January 30," he said, referring to the next meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The United States and the 27-nation EU are considering new sanctions aimed at Iran's oil and financial sectors. But EU governments have been divided over whether to impose an embargo on Iranian crude.

Oil from Iran in 2010 amounted to 5.8 percent of total EU imports, making Tehran the bloc's fifth-largest supplier after Russia, Norway, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

Spain represents 14.6 percent of Iranian oil imports to Europe, Greece 14.0 and Italy 13.1 percent.

More than a third of the world's tanker-borne oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, linking the Gulf -- and its petroleum-exporting states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- to the Indian Ocean.

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned on Tuesday that "not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz" if the West imposed sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

For his part, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Wednesday that “closure of the strait is very easy for the Iranian Armed Forces. It’s just like drinking a glass of water.”

Source: Agencies

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