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Iran Threatens To Block Key Shipping Route: Oil Prices Already Rising In Response
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Iran Threatens to Block Key Shipping Route: Oil Prices Already Rising In Response

The Strait of Hormuz is four miles wide, located between Oman and Iran. Roughly one third of all of the world's crude oil that travels by sea as well as liquified natural gas from exporter Qatar must travel through that stretch of water, bound for distant ports around the world. Iranian oil, bound for the twenty seven members of the European Union, for instance, accounts for nearly twenty percent of what is then refined and sold to China and India. But, Iran is threatening to block off all travels through that strait if new sanctions imposed on the nation include economic freezes in its oil sector. Leading experts have said that such a move could eventually lead to military conflicts, especially withing the countries that are most dependent on oil from the area for their own economy.

In early November, the United Nation's Nuclear watchdog released a report that strongly suggested that Tehran was in the middle of or had already, built a nuclear weapon and that it might be moving into the testing phase. Tehran, however, strongly denied the allegation saying that its nuclear program was research based and only working to improve energy creation. But, the nation has continually increased and expanded its nuclear programs despite having ongoing sanctions imposed on it for the previous five years. The UN has demanded that Iran suspend all nuclear based programs and to allow the UN's inspectors and investigators in to check that they are in compliance with these orders.

The European Union members, the United States and Canada have all announced sanctions on Iran, just short of sanctioning the crude industry that is the backbone of Iran's economy. Russia and China, both serious trade partners with Iran have refused to allow the more crushing economic sanctions.

The EU foreign ministers agreed to tightening the sanctions that were already imposed after the UN's report was released, including laying out plans that may lead to an oil embargo in the new year. The European Uniion members announced in December that the debates on Iran are continuing and a final decision will be reached and announced no later than January.

Iran is currently the fifth largest exporter of crude oil in the world and had announced a "plan" with Saudi Arabia and other suppliers to keep other nations from making up whatever could not be exported from it's own sources. Saudi Arabia has denied that there was ever such a discussion.


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