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Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments

File photo. NORBERT SCHILLER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jittery oil markets are spiking with an eye on threats from Iran which claims that if the West imposes more sanctions on its oil because of its nuclear program, then Iran's navy will shut down the Strait of Hormuz through which one sixth of the world's crude is shipped to customers.

The Obama administration doesn't think Iran can do that and calls the threats "bluster" and a distraction.

“This is perhaps one of the most vital pieces of water, the Straits of Hormuz, in the world -- because so much of the world's oil goes through it,” said ABC News global affairs correspondent Christiane Amanpour. “It does point to the big dilemma the U.S. faces: trying to sanction Iran, at the same time trying not to raise oil prices and disturb an already weak economy.”

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow, 34-mile wide choke point off the Iranian coast.

“The Iranians have in the past, in the 80s, waged the so-called tanker war where they did briefly disrupt oil supplies,” Amanpour said. “However they are no match for the rest of the world -- and indeed, analysts say, if they did do this they could only do it for about two days to two weeks because it would affect their own oil and their own economy.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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