A major shipping route located between Oman and Iran where nearly one-third of the world’s sea-traded oil passes through daily may become a new flashpoint after a top Iranian Navy general said Monday that the country has taken full control of the Strait of Hormuz.
The head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Alireza Tangsiri, said that Iran had full control of both the Persian Gulf itself and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it, Reuters reported.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded Monday night: “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not control the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait is an international waterway. The United States will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways.”
The strait, which at its narrowest point is 21 miles wide, has shipping lanes that are 2 miles wide in each direction and is the only sea passage from many of the world’s largest oil producers to the Indian Ocean.
“It’s a very contentious area,” retired Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis told Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” earlier this month.
The Strait of Hormuz is where most of the oil from Saudi Arabia passes through, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The Saudis have constructed pipelines to bypass the strait, but a majority of crude oil is shipped by sea, meaning that any action by Iran to halt shipping may impact consumers across the world.
“The blockage of the Strait of Hormuz, even temporarily, could lead to substantial increases in total energy costs,” the agency said in a 2012 report.
At the beginning of August, Iran began a large-scale exercise in the Strait of Hormuz involving more than 50 small boats, practicing “swarming” operations that could potentially shut down the vital waterway if ever deployed for real. The drill came after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of a landmark nuclear accord with Iran and leaders of both countries exchanged fiery rhetoric.