Iran threatens to keep oil tankers from Strait of Hormuz

Tensions have risen across the Middle East recently as the Western world considers renewed sanctions against Iran over accusations about its nuclear program. Now The Associated Press reports that the nation has threatened to cut off access to the Strait of Hormuz, a critical pathway for oil transportation.

The only water passageway from the oil-rich Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and the wider ocean, the Strait of Hormuz sees oil tankers carrying roughly one-sixth of world's oil to markets abroad. The strait represents the only sea access to Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia and much of the United Arab Emirates.

The threat came twice in quick succession from Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the head of Iran's navy.

"Closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces," Sayyari told state-run Press TV, according to the AP. "Iran has comprehensive control over the strategic waterway."

The Associated Press reports that Saudi Arabia has promised to increase production to counter the move. While the nation relies on oil tankers, it boasts a more developed system of oil pipelines to facilitate moving oil to other ports.

Further information about the structure of the oil and gas industry in the Middle East can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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