Bloomberg News

U.S. Has Seen No Active Steps by Iran to Block Hormuz Strait

January 09, 2012

(Updates with comments on U.S. capabilities from fourth paragraph.)

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. hasn’t seen any efforts by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz to shipping, according to Pentagon spokesman George Little.

“We don’t see any active steps being taken by the Iranians to close the Strait,” Little told reporters today in Washington. “The rhetoric has gotten a little heavy in recent days and it’s time for it to go lighter.”

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said on Dec. 27 that his nation would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.

“We have the capabilities and relations in the region to promote stability in the Gulf,” Little said. “Naturally, the Strait of Hormuz is a very important factor in the stability of the region.”

“We’ve seen a lot of rhetoric” threatening shipping through the Strait, he said. “We haven’t seen active expressions of intent.”

Iran has the ability to block the Strait “for a period of time,” and the U.S. would take action to reopen it, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey said in an interview broadcast yesterday.

“They’ve invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz,” Dempsey said on the CBS “Face the Nation” program. “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that.”

The Strait, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, is the world’s biggest chokepoint for seaborne oil trade, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Almost 17 million barrels a day, or about a fifth of oil traded globally, crossed the waterway last year, the department said in a report Dec. 30.

--With assistance from Isaac Arnsdorf in London. Editors: Terry Atlas, Larry Liebert

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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