Hopefully it doesn't lead to a let's roll! moment at the White House, where super-hawk national security adviser John Bolton has no doubt been itching for escalation: moments ago Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister announced military forces will "secure" the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran will "not allow disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area" Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi was quoted as saying in state media, while leading a delegation to Paris, Reuters reports. However, it's unclear at this point how far Iran is willing to go in this escalating game of chicken with the US and UK - both of which have warships and other military assets in the gulf region.
“Iran will use its best efforts to secure the region, particularly the Strait of Hormuz, and will not allow any disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area,” Araqchi told French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during a meeting.
The announcement comes amidst threats and counter threats ongoing between London and Tehran, with each demanding the release of their tanker. Early this month the Royal Navy seized the Grace 1, carrying 2 million barrels of oil, off Gibraltar; and in turn Iran last Friday captured the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz.
To be sure, this is not the first time Iran has made such a threat: back in April and before that in December Iran warned it would close the global oil chokepoint, when it said that "if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf."
Meanwhile, Iranian vice-president, Eshaq Jahangiri, said that Iran rejects UK-led attempts to establish a "joint European task force" to monitor and patrol the Persian Gulf in order to protect international shipping, countering that it would only bring "insecurity".
“There is no need to form a coalition because these kinds of coalitions and the presence of foreigners in the region by itself creates insecurity,” he said. And added, “And other than increasing insecurity it will not achieve anything else.” France, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark indicated Tuesday they would support a European-led naval mission to ensure international vessels' safe passage in the gulf.
Is Iran now making good on its threats to block global oil shipping out of the vital strait?