Iran- More Sabre Rattling?
On Tuesday, January 3, 2012, Iran warned an American aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf. To enter the Persian Gulf, ships must pass through the Strait of Hormuz. “We recommend to the American warship that passed through the Strait of Hormuz and went to Gulf of Oman not to return to the Persian Gulf,” General Ataollah Salehi, Iran’s army chief, was quoted as saying by the Iranian state news agency IRNA. Salehi spoke as a 10-day Iranian naval exercise ended near the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf. Iranian officials have said the drill was to show that Iran could close the strait.
The strait is divided between Iran and Oman’s territorial waters, and international law requires both countries to allow free passage through it. Salehi’s warning for the US aircraft carrier not to come back seemed aimed at further depicting the strait and the Gulf as under Iran’s domination, though there is no way to enforce his warning without military action. The Iranian naval exercise served as practice for closing the Strait of Hormuz if the West enacts sanctions blocking Iranian oil sales or imposes economic sanctions.