0 Persons
8 January 2012 - 23:07

The military adviser to US president has conceded that Iran enjoys the wherewithal to close down the Strait of Hormuz if the occasion necessitates.

“They've invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz,” Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said in an interview aired on the CBS “Face the Nation” program on Sunday.

Dempsey, who is President Barack Obama's top military adviser, however, added that the US would try to reopen the waterway if Iran decided to close it.

“We've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that,” he added.

The Strait of Hormuz became the focal point of the recent escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran after the US announced plans to boycott Iran's Central Bank over the country's nuclear program in an apparent bid to punish foreign companies and banks that do business with the Iranian financial institution.

The sanctions are ultimately designed to target Iran's oil output by preventing refiners across the world from paying for the country's crude.

Iran, in turn, responded by asserting that it would close the Strait of Hormuz if the sanctions were implemented.

On December 27, Iran's First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi warned that imposing sanctions against the country's energy sector will prompt Tehran to prevent oil cargoes from passing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

“If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil, not even a drop of oil will be allowed through the Strait of Hormuz,” he warned.

Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari further reiterated on December 28 that Iran has complete command over the strategic waterway and that “closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces.”

Tensions further escalated on the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet responded by saying it would not “tolerate” any disruption in the Strait of Hormuz.

“[The fleet] maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities," a spokesperson for the fleet said.

Last week, Iran wrapped up a massive 10-day Velayat 90 naval exercise, covering an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

During the drills Iran successfully test-fired a range of indigenous state of the art medium- and long-range missiles, including the anti-radar surface to air Mehrab projectile, the surface-to-surface Nour (Light), and the coast-to-sea Qader (Capable) missile, with a range of 200 kilometers.

General Dempsey suggested that a US strike on Iran's nuclear sites would be difficult. “I'd rather not discuss the degree of difficulty and in any way encourage them to read anything into that,” he said.

Washington and Tel Aviv have repeatedly threatened Tehran with the "option" of a military strike, based on the allegation that Iran's nuclear work may consist of a covert military aspect.

Iran, however, has refuted the allegations, saying that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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