19 April 2008

Blocking the Hormuz Strait: China’s Energy Dilemma

Yitzhak Shichor, Blocking the Hormuz Strait: China’s Energy Dilemma,” Jamestown China Brief, Vol. 8, No. 18, 22 September 2008.

Over the last few weeks Iran has amplified its threats that, if attacked, it would immediately close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic chokepoint nestled between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari warned, in no uncertain terms, that “one of our reactions will be to take control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.” Major General Jafari added that Iran’s “capabilities in these crucial naval passages are so extensive that, in the case of an attack, not only the enemy but also all those who assist him will no doubt sustain [considerable] harm. […] As a result of taking control of the Strait of Hormuz, the price of oil will spike considerably.” More recently he said that the Strait is within the range of Iran’s weapons and could easily be blocked for an unlimited period of time. Iran’s armed forces Chief of Staff Hassan Firouzabadi insisted that “if the country’s interests are jeopardized […] we will not let a single vessel pass through the Strait.” Expressing alarm, some Persian Gulf governments led by Qatar have launched a series of consultations in anticipation of the blocking of the Strait and in order to guarantee the continuation of oil export (for which emergency plans had already been drafted). A Saudi editorial headlined “Closing Hormuz: Iranian Suicide” warned that blocking the Strait would not only upset the United States but would turn the entire world into a united front against Iran. …