Strait of Hormuz: US warns Iran to keep the waterway open


This screengrab shows the Strait of Hormuz. (Google Maps)

The Obama administration has warned Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not to close the Strait of Hormuz or it will provoke a response, The New York Times reported.

The president contacted the supreme leader through a secret channel of communication, The Times reported. Officials declined to describe the unusual contact between the two governments, or the possibility of an Iranian spy.

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Officials have said publicly that Iran would cross a “red line” if it were to actually close the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, where 16 million barrels of oil flow through daily. That’s about 20 percent of the world’s oil.

“If you ask me what keeps me awake at night, it’s the Strait of Hormuz and the business going on in the Arabian Gulf,” Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, said in Washington this week, The Times reported.

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Iran has been under pressure from the US and Western allies to allow inspectors to check out its nuclear program to see if it does have any ambitions of making nuclear weapons. The US and Iran haven’t had any direct diplomatic relations since 1980, NPR reported.

Just as the United States warned Iran to keep the Strait of Hormuz open, Iran agreed to allow a high-level team of United Nation’s nuclear inspectors into the country later this month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The surprise move could relieve tensions between Iran and the West. The United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, are tentatively scheduled to visit the country on Jan. 28. Still, Iran has yet to make it clear whether it will allow inspectors to visit key nuclear sites and interview the Iranian official that the US and UN believe may be the head of a nuclear-weapons program, WSJ reported.

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