August 19, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 2029

Iran Threatens to Close Strait of Hormuz If Attacked

August 19, 2008
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 2029

Following recent threats by Iranian government elites,[1]in the past several days senior Iranian officials have emphasized that if it is attacked, Iran intends to close the Strait of Hormuz, thereby impeding the export of oil from the Gulf to the rest of the world.

The following are statements on this matter by several senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials:

IRGC Political Bureau Chief Javani: Closing the Strait of Hormuz is Part of Iran's Defense Policy

In an editorial titled "When Will the Hormuz Strait Be Closed?" in the Iranian weekly Sobh-e Sadeq, which is the mouthpiece of Iranian Supreme Leader 'Ali Khamenei circulated among the IRGC, IRGC political bureau chief Yadollah Javani wrote:

"The Strait of Hormuz is one of 14 locations in the world with unique strategic importance. Over 60 percent of the world's energy reserves are located in the Persian Gulf, and 17 million barrels of oil are transported daily from the strait by oil tankers. In today's global economy, oil plays the same role as blood in the human body, and under present circumstances, it is impossible to conceive of an active and dynamic economy without oil. Industry is completely dependent on [Persian] Gulf oil for survival.

"Oil production and the transportation of oil via the Strait of Hormuz require regional stability and security. If the Gulf region becomes unstable, this would entail fundamental and grave problems for the export of Persian Gulf oil.

"Iran is the largest and strongest independent country in the Middle East. It commands the entire northern Gulf coast, the Persian Gulf, and part of the Gulf of Oman, as well as the strategically important islands such as Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Moussa. In practical terms, from the geopolitical standpoint Iran is the dominant country in the Persian Gulf. Iran's policy in the region, particularly in the Persian Gulf – this being a strategic marine route – is to establish stability and security, and [to ensure that there is a capability] for withstanding any force that may be conducive to instability and [may present] a threat...

"Iran's response to any kind of military action that [jeopardizes] its interests will be swift, resolute, and crushing... Iran has declared several times that it will use all possible means to deal with military threats. Iran's Supreme Leader and the supreme commander of the armed forces [Ali Khamenei] has openly declared several times in his addresses... that if [Iran's] enemies [i.e. the U.S. and Israel] should commit folly and attack Iran, its reaction would be crushing; Iran would damage the attacker's interests worldwide, wherever it could. Khamenei's message is clear enough... Based on it, the Revolutionary Guards will mobilize all their capabilities and use all possible means to deal with the enemy.

"The point emphasized by Iran and insisted upon by the IRGC – which is the strongest armed military force in the Persian Gulf – is that in the event of military action against Iran by the enemies [i.e. the U.S. and Israel], the geostrategic role of the Persian Gulf, and especially of the Strait of Hormuz, will come into play as part of Iran's defense [plan, as well of its policy] of harming the interests of both the attackers and their supporters. The policy of closing the Strait of Hormuz was drawn up [expressly for this purpose]; it is made possible both by the Strait's geographic location and by the IRGC naval forces' capabilities in the Persian Gulf ...

"In the event of [military] action by an enemy, no one should expect Iran to refrain from using every [available] means of self-defense, including closing the Strait of Hormuz with a view to damaging the invaders' interests. Closing the Strait of Hormuz is part of Iran's defense policy in face of the U.S. military threat..."[2]

IRGC Ground Forces Commander Assadi: We'll Obstruct U.S. Troop Retreat, Escalate Oil Prices

In an interview with the Iranian news agency Fars, IRGC ground forces commander Mohammad Ja'far Assadi called Iraq "a large prison for captive [U.S.] soldiers," adding: "The captors know that in the event of an attack on Iran, they will be unable to withdraw all their forces from Iraq and Afghanistan overnight and flee... [since] the Pasbandar region up to the delta of the Arwand River [i.e. Shatt Al-'Arab], which is considered one of the flanks of the Persian Gulf, as well as part of the Gulf of Oman, is controlled by Iran – meaning that Iran maintains a hold on the enemy's vital arteries."

Assadi emphasized that "60% of [all] oil consumed worldwide passes through the Persian Gulf," and added: "These days, [although] no incident has as yet occurred, oil prices have risen from $12 to $120 a barrel. Now try to calculate how high [the price] of this essential commodity will rise if the enemy acts in a foolhardy manner, compelling Iran to defend itself."[3]

Iranian Presidential Advisor: U.S. Warships Will Be Sunk at Leader [Khamenei's] Slightest Signal

In an interview with the Iranian news agency ILNA, Iranian presidential advisor Mohammad 'Ali Ramin stated: "If instead of going on foot to Karbala [in Iraq] as a pilgrimage, pilgrims travel to Iraq to fight the Americans, [they will be doing] something for the sake of humanity. If instead of watching the U.S. fleet in the [Persian] Gulf, you prepare yourselves for the day when, at [Supreme] Leader [Khamenei's] slightest signal you will set forth to sink these ships, you will have done something for the sake of humanity."[4]

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 455, "Iranian Threats in Anticipation of Western Attack," July 15, 2008, Iranian Threats in Anticipation of Western Attack.

[2] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), August 11, 2008.

[3] Fars (Iran), August 9, 2008.

[4] ILNA (Iran), August 9, 2008.

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