Iran's president has warned the US that he could close the Strait of Hormuz after Washington threatened to halt Iranian oil exports. But could Tehran really block the most critical choke point for global oil trade?
Donald Trump's latest threat — to halt Iranian oil exports — has been met with defiance by Tehran.
Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, threatened to order the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping waterway in the Persian Gulf, in a move that would cause substantial disruption to oil shipments, and cause a massive spike in the price of oil.
Washington initially planned to shut Iran out of global oil markets after Trump abandoned the 2015 deal that limited Iran's nuclear ambitions, and demanded all other countries stop buying Iranian crude by November.
But on Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled Washington's tougher line, under which he warned of additional financial penalties against Tehran. But in equal measure, the US said it would lift the new sanctions if Iran ended its ballistic missile program and interventions in regional conflicts.
In his speech, Pompeo sought international support for an economic "pressure campaign" on Tehran, but so far the only reaction has been an angry one from Iran.
"America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars," Rouhani said at the weekend.
More than 85 percent of crude exports that pass through the Strait of Hormuz go to Asia.
A third of sea-traded oil passes throughThis might be a very timely question.
The Strait of Hormuz lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, providing the only sea passage for crude oil from many of the world's largest oil producers — including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq and the UAE — to the Indian Ocean.
Just 34 kilometers (21 miles) wide at its narrowest point, the shipping lane is only 3 kilometers wide in either direction.
With OPEC's top five exporters inside the Gulf, the volume of oil crossing the Strait has been constantly increasing each year, underlining its status as the most important maritime trade route for black gold....MORE
From the Australisn Broadcasting Corp., July 27:
Donald Trump could be ready to order a strike against Iran, Australian Government figures say
Senior figures in the Turnbull Government have told the ABC they believe the United States is prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, perhaps as early as next month, and that Australia is poised to help identify possible targets....MUCH MORE
It comes amid intense sabre-rattling by US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.
The ABC has been told Australian defence facilities would likely play a role in identifying targets in Iran, as would British intelligence agencies.
But a senior security source emphasised there was a big difference between providing accurate intelligence and analysis on Iran's facilities and being part of a "kinetic" mission.
"Developing a picture is very different to actually participating in a strike," the source said.
"Providing intelligence and understanding as to what is happening on the ground so that the Government and allied governments are fully informed to make decisions is different to active targeting."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said this morning he had no reason to believe the US was preparing for a military confrontation.
"President Trump has made his views very clear to the whole world, but this story … has not benefited from any consultation with me, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister or the Chief of the Defence Force," he said.
The top-secret Pine Gap joint defence facility in the Northern Territory is considered crucial among the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence partners — the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — for its role in directing American spy satellites.
Analysts from the little-known spy agency Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation would also be expected to play a part.
Canada would be unlikely to play a role in any military action in Iran, nor would the smallest Five Eyes security partner New Zealand, sources said.
Iran is a signatory to international agreements such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty and is not known to currently possess any weapons of mass destruction, but Mr Rouhani has recently boasted his nation's nuclear industry is advancing at a fast pace.
Last month Iran's nuclear chief opened a new nuclear enrichment facility that he said would comply with the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers in 2015.
Any US-led strike on Iranian targets would be fraught for a region bristling with tensions. Israel would have reason to be anxious about retaliation, given Iran rejects Israel's right to exist....