Britain warns Iran over threat to shipping lane
Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. He was awarded Foreign Commentator of the Year at the 2013 Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards.
Friday 06 January 2012
Any attempt by Iran to choke off the Strait of Hormuz, a key trading route for the world's oil markets, would be "unsuccessful", the Defence Secretary warned yesterday, adding that British naval forces would continue to help maintain security in the region.
Speaking in Washington, Philip Hammond said attempts to close the waterway, through which a third of the world's oil passes, in retaliation for tougher international sanctions against Tehran, would be illegal. "Disruption to the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz would threaten regional and global economic growth," he added.
Mr Hammond said Britain had provided minesweeping vessels as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, the US-led force from 25 states, based in Bahrain. Iran recently carried out naval exercises and fired a sea-to-air missile to emphasise that it could hit back against an attack by the US or Israel.
In response to increased Western pressure, Iran claimed yesterday it could withstand a widening embargo on its oil exports and escalating sanctions directed against its central bank, but said it was ready to resume talks on its uranium enrichment programme.
Like Iraq with its non-existent weapons of mass destruction, Iran would have difficulty proving it does not have secret facilities or plans to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says its plans are entirely non-military.
Escalating American sanctions against Iran are partly motivated by the Obama administration's need to prove its toughness during a presidential election year. Republican candidates have suggested they would consider war with Iran to destroy its nuclear programme or overthrow its government. In Iran impending elections make it hard for the government to show flexibility in negotiations on its nuclear programme as this would be denounced as weakness by its opponents. US policy presumes a domestic political fragility in Iran that may be wishful thinking.
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Tube strike July 2015: Is it still on? Everything you need to know about the industrial action
Eiji Tsuburaya: Godzilla co-creator honoured in today's interactive Google Doodle
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...