Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to the US if it continues with military drills in the area, potentially destabilising oil prices. Access to the Strait would be denied to the US and its allies if such drills "threaten" the regime, Iran's deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards said after the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) held in the Persian Gulf in April.
"If the Americans and their regional allies want to pass through the Strait of Hormuz and threaten us, we will not allow any entry," Tehran Telegram reported General Hossein Salami as saying. He added: "We have to counter any harmful and ill-intended passage through Strait of Hormuz."
The recent IMCMEX involved more than 30 countries, with the possible large-scale of the routine drills leading Iran to assume a defensive stance. The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, reportedly backed the position of Iran's military leadership, questioning why the vessels were in the area, with state media reporting the leader as saying: "What are you doing here? Go back to the Bay of Pigs."
Around a third of all the oil carried by sea passes through the Strait of Hormuz, meaning limiting access to the water would have a serious impact on oil trading around the globe. However, when Iran last speculated it was intending to limit access to the Strait in 2012, it never followed through on its threats.