The Very Real Threat Iran has Made

US President Donald Trump has not wasted much time when it comes to dealing with Iran. He has taken a very aggressive stance towards the Islamic Republic, orientated along the imperialist line. Without any provocation, the US unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement in which Iran promised not to build any nuclear weapons.

The goal was to undermine any growth of Iranian influence and power in the region. With their alliance with the Government of Syria, this has not panned out. They’ve continued to grow in influence without the possession of nuclear weapons and managed to help undermine US interests in the region by helping defeat the US controlled rebels in Syria. Thus, in their view, it became necessary to alter the course of action against Iran.

Withdrawing from the agreement and the placing of sanctions on Iran again is another attempt to destabilize the country and foment the ubiquitous policy of “regime change”. By that, it is meant to overthrow the stance of independence in Iran. There may be some evidence that this is working. Recently President Rouhani was called before the government to answer questions concerning the economic problems in the country.

Still, yet, there has not been the economic damage that was to the satisfaction of the imperialist goal. Now the US is threatening to halt all Iranian oil exports. Such an act would cause an astounding amount of damage to their economy. With such a threat looming over their heads, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to all oil shipments. What’s significant about this? Iran can legally do it.

The United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea, enacted in December 1982, defines “Territorial waters” to be a maximum of 12 nautical miles past a country’s coastline. Any vessel that needs to access the Persian Gulf via the North and East routes must pass through Iranian territory. Technically it is within Iran’s right to block any passage they wish. However, such a move is quite dangerous given that they would be harming themselves as well.

As it stands right now, that would block the sea shipping of oil from some of the largest producers – Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq and the UAE — to the Indian Ocean. More than 85 percent of crude exports that pass through the Strait of Hormuz goes to Asia. About a third of all sea-transported petroleum in the world passes through the Strait. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2016, about 18.5 million barrels of crude oil was shipped via the waterway, a 9 percent increase on the previous year. The Strait is also the route for almost all of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the largest supplier, Qatar.

This move would cause a severe disruption in the oil supply which would cause a drastic increase in the cost of oil. If there’s anything the American consumer gets upset about, it’s the cost of gas. We should also keep in mind that petroleum plays a pivotal role in every industry, as they all require transportation. We would expect to see a huge increase in the cost of basically everything as a result. No doubt this would also lead to inflation.

Think of it this way, the gas shortage of the 1970s was only a 7 percent reduction in output. This would be much larger than that.

All of this can be avoided if the US halts its imperialist aggression against Iran and ceases to interfere in the country. Iran, like all other countries, has the right to determine their own destiny and form their own domestic and international policy. This game of aggression that the Trump administration is pushing against Iran can have no positive outcome. It can only lead to hardship and economic destabilization for many.