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Iran Said It Could Close Major Oil Shipping Route—But Will It?

Iran could close the major oil shipping route known as the Strait of Hormuz if necessary, the commander of Iran's Revolution Guard's navy said on Tuesday. But for now, it will keep it open, he added.

The warning came following Israel's presence in the United Arab Emirates, which Alirez Tangsiri says he sees as a threat, and Israel's airstrikes on Iran's consulate in Syria earlier this month.

"We do not get hit without striking back, but we are also not hasty in our retaliation," Tangsiri said.

Iran's historical relationship with the strategic waterway, the Strait of Hormuz, has been fraught with tension and periodic threats of closure. Situated between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz serves as a vital maritime chokepoint through which a significant portion of the world's oil supply passes—as many as 20.5 million barrels per day of petroleum products passes through this chokepoint.

Iran's saber-rattling is nothing new and stems from its desire to exert influence over regional affairs. Despite international concerns and objections, Iran has intermittently raised the specter of closing the Strait as a means of retaliation or leverage in response to perceived threats or geopolitical maneuvers by its adversaries.

One such instance of Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz occurred in 2012, amidst escalating tensions over its nuclear program and the imposition of international sanctions. While Iran possesses the capability to disrupt maritime traffic through the Strait using its naval forces and asymmetric tactics, the economic ramifications of such an action would be severe, not only for Iran but for global energy markets as well.

As geopolitical tensions ebb and flow in the volatile region, the mere fear of the Strait of Hormuz's closure remains a persistent concern for the oil industry and global policymakers, underscoring the enduring importance of stability and diplomacy in safeguarding vital energy transit routes.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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