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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Any Iranian attempt to close Gulf 'self-defeating': Pentagon

[AFP] The Pentagon said Tuesday that any move by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz would be "self-defeating" because its weak economy is so heavily dependent on oil revenues.

"Shutting down the Strait, closing down the Persian Gulf, would be sort of a self-defeating exercise," said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. "That doesn't say anything about whether we tolerate such a thing to happen."

Morrell's comments came in response to a warning by the new head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that Iran could easily close the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil passes.

[40% of all seaborne oil traffic passes through the Strait of Hormuz]

General Mohammad Ali Jafari announced Monday that Iran has successfully tested an anti-ship missile with a range of 300 kilometers (180 miles.)

"And given the equipment our armed forces have, an indefinite blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be very easy," Jafari said on state television.

Morrell argued, however, that Iran would be the first to be hurt if it closed the Gulf.

"I don't think it is Iran's interest to shut down the Strait of Hormuz or the Persian Gulf, or attempt to do so," he told reporters.

"They have a very weak economy at this point which depends almost entirely on their oil revenue," he said.