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Iran and the price of oil - Jan 5

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Oil Price Would Skyrocket if Iran Closed the Strait of Hormuz

Clifford Krauss, New York Times
If Iran were to follow through with its threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit route for almost one-fifth of the oil traded globally, the impact would be immediate: Energy analysts say the price of oil would start to soar and could rise 50 percent or more within days.

An Iranian blockade by means of mining, airstrikes or sabotage is logistically well within Tehran’s military capabilities. But despite rising tensions with the West, including a tentative ban on European imports of Iranian oil announced Wednesday, Iran is unlikely to take such hostile action, according to most Middle East political experts.

United States officials say the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in nearby Bahrain, stands ready to defend the shipping route and, if necessary, retaliate militarily against Iran.
(4 January 2012)




Crude Plan: Iran war & double recession?

Russia Today (RT)

Global oil prices are spiking as the EU says it's agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian crude. The sanctions could come in to effect by the end of January, unless Iran backs down on its alleged nuclear weapons programme. Tehran has responded to the sanctions with threats to block oil trade through the crucial Strait of Hormuz, leading to a continued deadlock in the Persian Gulf. American warships are also present in the region, with a mission to prevent any hindrances of passage. RT talks to political analyst Christoph Hoerstel, who's in Berlin.
(5 January 2012)



Iran could be bluffing in the strait of Hormuz – but can US risk calling it?

Simon Tisdall, Guardian
Tehran's vow to stop US warships crossing international waters in the strait of Hormuz, following 10 days of provocative Iranian missile tests and naval exercises, is seen in Washington as evidence that ramped-up western sanctions are finally beginning to bite.

While this conclusion may be correct, there is always the danger of a disastrous miscalculation. Iran could be merely sabre rattling, as American analysts suggest. But what if it is not?

Seen from Tehran, the most serious threat to the survival of the regime led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei comes from within, not without – a consideration not sufficiently understood in the west. The political establishment is riven by deep divisions, principally between economic reformers loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and clerical arch-conservatives backed by the Revolutionary Guards and a wealthy, corrupt merchant class that has grown fat on the 1979 revolution.

Khamenei appears to be trying to hold the line between the two factions. What worries him more than the movements of the USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier group in the Gulf, or even US and EU oil sanctions, is the thought that crucial parliamentary elections due in March could produce a permanent rupture within the Islamic Republic. Such a split could open the way to a second Iranian revolution.
(5 January 2012)

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