The United States has said that Iran is required under their international obligations to keep the Straits of Hormuz open, and called upon Tehran to fulfill them.
120 Iranian lawmakers have signed on to a draft bill calling for the strategic Strait of Hormuz to be closed to oil tankers headed to Europe in retaliation for the EU embargo.
Reacting to this move during a daily press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland reiterated the US stand that the Straits of Hormuz is an international waterway and it needs to stay open.
"We've seen these threats from Iran again and again. As per international law, longstanding international practice, the Straits of Hormuz is an international strait. As such, vessels of all states enjoy transit passage rights through the straits. These rights apply to warships as well as merchant ships and vessels," she told reporters, making clear that "Any attempt by Iran to close the strait or to require vessels to obtain Iranian consent would be inconsistent with international law and not recognized by the United States."
To a question, "what will be the U.S. reaction" to a possible blockade, Nuland replied "we have over years and decades made clear that we intend to do what is necessary to maintain the openness of the straits."
In January this year, Iran warned that it would block the Strait of Hormuz in response to possible security threats from the United States.
Pentagon retorted by saying that the U.S. military was now "fully prepared" to deal with any Iranian effort to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital Gulf avenue for international oil shipments.
The U.S. 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, and all American ships to return to their base must go through the Strait of Hormuz, the bottleneck between Oman and Iran. The U.S. Defense Department had made it clear that its warships would continue to remain in the Persian Gulf at all cost despite the Iranian threat.
The Strait of Hormuz, located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, links the oil-producing Gulf countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to the Indian Ocean. About 40 percent of the world's tanker-borne oil passes through the waterway.
Tensions raised by Iran over the safe passage of oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz and the test-firing of missiles are enough to raise crude oil prices.
by RTT Staff Writer
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