(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. is seriously considering taking unspecified military action if Iran moves ahead with its threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil travels.
Tehran issued the threat in an effort to stop President Obama from escalating sanctions against its government because of a report by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog group that Iran is further along in developing a nuclear arsenal than previously believed.
More penalties by the U.S. and other Western countries could put a major dent in Iran’s oil revenues.
With military officials warning that a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz won’t be allowed to happen, Pentagon spokesman George Little said the route is an “economic lifeline” vital to stability in the region.
Meanwhile, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet, which is stationed in the Gulf region, added, “Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated.”
The White House is walking a fine line between sounding tough and not trying to force Iran’s hand, since world markets would react negatively to even the possibility of a confrontation that could send the price of fuel to astronomical levels.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Rafael Romo and Patrick Gillespie, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN