US Navy vows to protect free flow of commerce as Iran threatens blockades
London — The US Navy "stands ready to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce wherever international law allows", a spokesperson for the US military’s Central Command said on Thursday, after Iran warned it will block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has threatened in recent days to close the strait, a vital route for world oil supplies, if Washington tries to cut Tehran’s exports. An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said on Wednesday that Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile US action.
"The US and its partners provide, and promote, security and stability in the region," Central Command spokesperson Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an e-mail to Reuters.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Navy (IRGCN) lacks a strong navy and instead focuses on an asymmetric warfare capability in the Gulf. It possesses many speed boats and portable anti-ship missile launchers and can lay naval mines.
A senior US military leader said in 2012 that the Guards have the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz "for a period of time" but that the US would take action to re-open it in such an event.
In May, US President Donald Trump pulled out of a multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear programme. Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from November 4 or face financial measures.
Strait of Hormuz