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Al Jazeera begins: "A standoff between Iran and the US over Tehran's threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers has worsened, with warships from each side giving weight to an increasingly bellicose exchange of words. Iran's Revolutionary Guards rejected a warning that the US military would 'not tolerate' such a closure, saying they would act decisively 'to protect our vital interests."

Iran's Navy Commander Habibulah Sayari holds a news conference in Tehran, 12/22/11. (photo: Reuters)
Iran's Navy Commander Habibulah Sayari holds a news conference in Tehran, 12/22/11. (photo: Reuters)

US and Iran Continue War of Words Over Hormuz

By Al Jazeera

30 December 11


standoff between Iran and the US over Tehran's threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers has worsened, with warships from each side giving weight to an increasingly bellicose exchange of words.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards rejected a warning that the US military would "not tolerate" such a closure, saying they would act decisively "to protect our vital interests".

Iran said it would shut the strait if the West imposed more sanctions over its nuclear programme.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday that Iran had exhibited "irrational behaviour" by threatening to close the strait.

"One can only guess that the international sanctions are beginning to feel the pinch, and that the ratcheting up of pressure, particularly on their oil sector, is pinching in a way that is causing them to lash out," she said.

The tough language came as two US warships entered a zone where the Iranian navy's ships and aircraft were in the middle of 10 days of war games designed as a show of its military capabilities.

A US navy spokeswoman said that the aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis and the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay had transited without incident on Tuesday, in a pre-planned, routine operation.

"Our interaction with the regular Iranian navy continues to be within the standards of maritime practice, well-known, routine and professional," Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich said on Thursday.

The transit area was in waters east of the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point at the entrance to the Gulf through which more than a third of the world's tanker-borne oil passes.

'Not a Drop'

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned earlier this week that "not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz" if the West followed through with planned additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Admiral Habibollah Sayari, a navy commander, backed that up by saying it would be "really easy" to close the strait.

A US defence department spokesman said on Wednesday that "interference with the transit ... of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated".

But Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, told the Fars news agency on Thursday that "our response to threats is threats".

"We have no doubt about our being able to carry out defensive strategies to protect our vital interests. We will act more decisively than ever," he was quoted as saying.

"The Americans are not qualified to give us permission" to carry out military strategy, he said.

Sayari said the US aircraft carrier was monitored by Iranian forces as it passed from the Strait of Hormuz to the Gulf of Oman, state television reported, while broadcasting footage of an aircraft carrier being shadowed by an Iranian plane.

Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, an Iranian navy spokesman, told the official IRNA news agency the US carrier went "inside the manoeuvre zone" where Iranian ships were conducting their exercises.

He added that the Iranian navy was "prepared, in accordance with international law, to confront offenders who do not respect our security perimeters during the manoeuvres".

'Routine Transit'

US officials had said on Wednesday that the Stennis and its carrier strike group were moving through the Strait of Hormuz.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said the deployment was to provide air power for the war in Afghanistan.

The US, whose Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, maintains a significant naval presence in the Gulf, mostly to ensure oil traffic there is unhindered.

Iran, which is already subject to several rounds of sanctions over its nuclear programme, has repeatedly said it could target the Strait of Hormuz if attacked or its economy is strangled.

Such a move could cause havoc on world oil markets, disrupting the already fragile global economy, although analysts say the Islamic Republic is unlikely to take such drastic steps as it relies on the route for its own oil exports.

Iran's naval manoeuvres included the laying of mines and the use of aerial drones, according to Iranian media. Missiles and torpedoes were to be test-fired in the coming days.

Earlier this month, Iranian officials said a Revolutionary Guards cyber-warfare unit had hacked the controls of a US bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance drone and brought it down safely.

Analysts and oil market traders are watching the developing situation in and around the Strait of Hormuz carefully, fearing that an incident could begin an open confrontation between the long-time foes.

The US had proposed a military hotline between Tehran and Washington to defuse any "miscalculations" between their navies, but Iran rejected that offer in September. your social media marketing partner


+21 # RMDC 2011-12-30 20:23
There's just something missing in this story. Why would Iran take the US bait in this way. The sanctions are designed to hurt Iran but sales of oil to China, India, and some of Europe can make up for that. The long term benefit of selling oil under the US sanctions is that oil will not be sold in US dollars, further undermining the hegemony of the dollar.

The American blockage is really an act of war. A physical blockage with navy ships is clearly an act of war, but a financial or banking blockage achieves the same results.

Iran should sue the US at the World Court and the International Criminal court. It should appeal to the Security Council and General Assembly. It is beyond doubt that the US is trying to start a war against Iran and that is a violation of all international laws that deal with such things. Of course, the US has corrupted these international bodies, but the case will be tried in the court of world opinion, where the US will lose. Maybe there will be voluntary boycotts of the US.

Iran cannot match the US militarily and there is no point in trying. The US is looking for a pretext. Iran should not give one. Iran has every legal right to pursue nuclear energy and also every legal right to build nuclear bombs, given that it is being threatened by two nuclear bomb states. It should take the road of international courts.
+6 # Activista 2011-12-31 01:17
"given that it is being threatened by two nuclear bomb states. It should take the road of international courts"
It should - USrael will just laugh - THEY ARE NOT participants.
Google Israel USA international court .. 95% of US population are brainwashed by USrael propaganda.
Israel drones killed two - call them Al Kaida (lie) in Gaza.
Iran has strategic advantage - it is easy to block the oil traffic - USA will have to back up.
+8 # RMDC 2011-12-31 09:42
It is true that the US and Israel refused to become members of the International Criminal Court. But since about 90% of other nations have joined it and since the US has supported its indictments and prosecutions of others, the court actually has a de facto jurisdiction over the US. All that is needed is for someone to file charges against a US citizen to see if this will work. We know the US will not hand over the person charged any more than Libyans handed over Qaddafi when he was charged. Still, the charges count in the court of world opinion. If Obama and a dozen Pentagon generals were indicted by the Internatioal Criminal Court for Crimes Against Peace, they would, in effect, be outed.

It is important for Iran to follow international diplomatic and legal channels. Don't get baited into saber rattling that the US/Israel can use as a pretext for an all out war.

The world needs very badly for its international laws like the Geneva Conventions to be practiced and used, after Bush/Cheney/Yoo declared them obsolete and "quaint." The more these laws are used in a genuine mannner (i.e., not just the indictment of NATO's enemy of the month such as Assad or Qaddafi), the more effective they will be in preventing war.
+3 # karenvista 2012-01-01 02:48
It was a very peculiar situation and, I think, unprecedented. Clinton had already sighned the International Criminal Court agreement and when Bush came in, one of his first acts was to "unsign" it. That should have told the world right then that he was planning international war crimes. Which is precisely what he went on to do.

He has asked 145 nations to sign bilateral agreements with the U.S. saying that they will not turn U.S. Military or civilians over to the ICC for prosecution, 45 agreed (basically nullifying their treaties) and 100 have refused. How can he "unsign" a treaty that has been approved by Congress and signed by a sitting President?
+1 # karenvista 2012-01-01 02:39
[quote name="RMDC"]The American blockade is really an act of war. A physical blockade with navy ships is clearly an act of war, but a financial or banking blockade achieves the same results.

The U.S. has also threatened to impose sanctions on any country that does business with Iran using the Bank of International Settlements, which is how government to government and other very large payments are processed. That would, theoretically make it impossible for Iran to have any trade, import or export.

There may be smuggling capabilities but it would be likely that the U.S. would find out about it and start a gigantic trade, and possiblly, kinetic war.

On the other hand, think of this. This is the first time since World War II that the Senate has actully declared war (100-0 vote) instead of letting the President carry out another police action.

Just goes to show that 100 minds working together still can't exceed the brain power of one.

You're right. Iran has the powers listed above and we have vetos. Also, keep in mind that Iran's economy is fragile so they don't have years to go through availablelegal procedures. If they can't trade their people go hungry.

My question is, why do the Republicans want to do this now? I thought they were the ones who liked to call their guy "War President" and whip up patriotic fever for elections?????? ??
0 # Activista 2012-01-01 13:54
US Iraq sanction caused death "The Iraq sanctions were a near-total financial and trade embargo imposed by the United ... Estimates of excess civilian deaths during the sanctions vary widely, but range from 170000 to over 1.5 million. ......"?
In Iran the death will exceed Iraq. Iran has right to defend themselves.
" Senate has actully declared war (100-0 vote)" - there is NO hope for USA ...
0 # Activista 2012-01-01 19:47
Obama signed sanctions against Iran - to get AIPAC money?
+10 # Dave45 2011-12-31 00:31
There is no surprise here. Since domestic public opinion has turned against the US' wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is running out of places to make war, warmaking being a US necessity since it constitutes the nation's primary approach to foreign policy. American presidents (of either major party) must have their wars. We have all seen the pattern before. The US is now in the process of trying to incite Iran to commit a violent act of any kind or degree sufficient for providing the US with an excuse for launching military operations through which the US will be able to continue its killing of helpless people around the world. This is the established pattern; the only question is, as always, which country will be next. By virtue of its status as an international pariah and its penchant for bellicose rhetoric, Iran is an exceptionally good subject for American propagandizing and an exceptionally good candidate for the US' next war. The die is cast. Mr. Obama is just another US political hack obsessed with the felt need to prove his political manliness by ordering others to kill for him. Incidentally, the war will not, of course, be declared by Congress; it will not be legal. And as usual, its prosecution will be restricted by neither American nor international law. It's the American Way.
0 # RJB 2011-12-31 08:43
Perhaps the Iranian reaction is more a factor of internal politics than foreign policy.
+4 # Glen 2011-12-31 09:35
Quite possibly, RJB, but Iran is being threatened, and has been for quite a while now. As the U.S. grew more aggressive, Iran developed a means to respond, both politically and militarily. Internal politics are probably raging in Iran, as I write. Too bad U.S. citizens are not vehemently protesting their government and their irrational threats to the rest of the world.
+2 # karenvista 2012-01-01 02:58
It worked so well when millions of us around the world protested against the war in Iraq.

And while we're talking about the blustering being part of internal politics in Iran. What would you do if the world's only superpower continually talked about attacking you and virtually every presidential contender made an entertainment out of describing whose weapons rained on Iran will be the most horrendous.

Do you think that they didn't learn the lesson of the Iraq war?
He who has no nukes will be attacked. He who has nukes will be saved.
0 # Glen 2012-01-01 08:15
You are right, karenvista. No protest was big enough to get the attention of the U.S. government and most Americans did not even know of the hundreds of thousands of people in the streets worldwide.

There will come a time when other countries DO threaten the U.S. in similar ways.
+10 # head out the window 2011-12-31 08:44
Im sure we wouldnt think it is an act of war if Iran decided to block american ports from exporting oil and gas. Im sure we would be fine with Iranian drones spying on us every day. Im sure America would be fine if Iran demanded we not use nuclear power for any reason. I'm sure the american public has bought the bait and will support another war of empire, (actually the only one i believe is the last one)
+3 # agnekwa 2011-12-31 10:14
When at all will the usa stop these acts of terrorism? Do they really understand the word "terrorist"? I would support Iran in every way to defend herself against any provocative behaviour fron the usa or any country. the US nato lead invasion in Lybia resulted in the killing of many uncountable innocent civilians including pregnant and children. The CIA did this secretely to overthrow many important African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumuba who could have established a good and well respected economic base for Africa. There is an end to every evil that men do. I know iran doesnt have the millitary capability to win a war against the US but thgey would do their best and many lives would be lost to the two sides and by extension the world at large.
+2 # karenvista 2012-01-01 03:09
In our "Modern, technologically advanced warfare" only 90% of the casualties have been civilians in the last three wars.

The propagana departments of the various services like to show the MSM the video game stuff but the vast majority of the people killed are civilians.

And, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, we destroy infrastructure, hospitals, water treatment plants, electricity, schools, food stores and cause immense suffering, disease and starvation among the people.

Then we send in high-priced contractors to do all the work that the locals could be doing because their jobs have been destroyed, but our contractors bring in virtual slave labor from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or wherever else people are willing to work for almost free and be kept in inhumane conditions.

And here we go again. Destroying the most modern, educated and successful countries who are unfortunate enough to sit atop OUR oil.
+3 # jwb110 2011-12-31 12:33
I say call their bluff and let them close Hormuz. If history can teach anything it it that the thing a bully wants most will dog him the rest of his days.
I suppose there would be fear relative to the American public discovering we have enough oil in the US to turn our backs on the Middle East.
It would force the non-oil based energy industry to the front of the line.
Make Energy, not War!
+3 # karenvista 2012-01-01 03:24
By the way, who's the bully in your little fable above?

Why do you people not understand that WE do not have oil exclusively for our use. Oil drilled here is not confined to use within the United States. Did you think there was a law that said that? Did Sarah Palin tell you that?

The Republicans keep saying that if we don't build the Keystone pipeline "the Canadians will sell it to China." Horror of Horrors!!

If we build the Keystone Pipeline and it pumps hot tar sands all the way from Canada (across the Ogallala Aquifer, that provides the drinking/irriga tion water for a good portion of the U.S.) and it actually makes it to Houston without spilling into the Aquifer, where I live, do you know what happens here?

It goes to our refineries, pollutes our air worse than any other source of petroleum product and the gets piped to the Houston Ship Channel, where it gets loaded on tankers and sold to the highest bidder. Maybe, even China if it goes through the Panama Canal.

IT DOES NOT MAKE US ENERGY INDEPENDENT. It just makes the oil companies richer and provides a few hundred jobs, at great risk.
0 # Activista 2012-01-01 19:49
Karen - write more - you are well informed/factua l.
0 # Activista 2012-01-01 18:58
"TEHRAN (Reuters) - - Iran announced a nuclear fuel breakthrough and test-fired a new radar-evading medium-range missile in the Gulf on Sunday, moves that could further antagonize the West at a time when Tehran is trying to avert harsh new sanctions on its oil industry.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law on Saturday imposing tougher financial sanctions to penalize Iran for a nuclear research programme that the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
The move could for the first time hurt Tehran's oil exports, and the European Union is due to consider similar steps soon.
As tensions have risen, Iran threatened last week to close the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow Gulf shipping lane through which 40 percent of world oil flows, if sanctions hit its oil exports."
Obama is INSANE.

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