Iran's Threat to the Strait of Hormuz

January 23, 2012

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile
  • Military

Author: 

Kenneth Katzman, Neelesh Nerurkar, Ronald O'Rourke, R. Chuck Mason, Michael Ratner

Some officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have recently renewed threats to close or exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s threats appear to have been prompted by the likely imposition of new multilateral sanctions targeting Iran’s economic lifeline—the export of oil and other energy products. In the past, Iranian leaders have made similar threats and comments when the country’s oil exports have been threatened. However, as in the past, the prospect of a major disruption of maritime traffic in the Strait risks damaging Iranian interests. U.S. and allied military capabilities in the region remain formidable. This makes a prolonged outright closure of the Strait appear unlikely. Nevertheless, such threats can and do raise tensions in global energy 
markets and leave the United States and other global oil consumers to consider the risks of another potential conflict in the Middle East. This report explains Iranian threats to the Strait of Hormuz, and analyzes the implications of some scenarios for potential U.S. or international 
conflict with Iran.

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