Plan in place to deal with Iran threat

World powers have started drawing up contingency plans in case Iran close Strait of Hormuz

Regional security expert Dr Theodore Karasik says contingencies are in place should Iran follow through with threat to close Strait of Hormuz

World powers have started drawing up contingency plans in case Iran follows through with its threat to seal off the vital Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian officials have threatened to block the waterway if new sanctions, aimed at discouraging Iran’s nuclear programme, harm Tehran’s oil exports.

Tehran has announced plans for military exercises in the strait, the world’s most vital oil lane with 16 million barrels of crude passing through it every day. Gulf oil producers are now working with the West on a plan to keep supplies steady if Iran follows through with its threat. Regional security expert Dr Theodore Karasik said: “In the past Iran has made threats of closure but given the current environment the threats are being taken more seriously. All sides are preparing for the potential that Iran would launch this as an opening salvo to a much wider confrontation.”

Karasik, director of research and development at the Institute for Near and Gulf Military Analysis, added that Tehran’s latest threat to blockade the waterway showed it  “acting in a more assertive, almost belligerent way”. Reuters reported that a new oil pipeline stretching from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah could be used to transport crude outside of the Gulf, allowing it to be loaded onto tankers waiting on Fujairah’s Indian Ocean coastline.

Last month UAE energy minister Mohammad bin Dha’en Al Hameli said the strategic pipeline would be ready “soon”, and Reuters quoted one industry source as saying: “It’s now only a matter of pushing a button.” However, Karasik said that any use of the UAE pipeline, and a similar plan to shift some of Saudi Arabia’s oil to its Red Sea coast, would not compensate for a full closure of the strait.

“The creation of these alternative routes is part of a strategy to have less of a reliance on the strait itself, but these lines are not mature enough to offset the potential losses,” he said. Britain also said yesterday it was sending its newest warship – Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring – to the Gulf.

“The rhetoric has reached such a feverish pitch now that you have to take every word that is being said as being serious, and there is too much move­ment ongoing now in terms of military exercises and manoeuvres to rule that this is a normal situation,” said Karasik.

Source

Posted on January 8, 2012, in Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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