On Monday, Jan. 23, the Associated Press reported that the European Union and Iran are escalating tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and the trade embargo placed on Iran. Iran retaliated by threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz. According to the report, “analysts doubt that Iran would maintain a blockade for long, but any supply shortages would cause world oil supplies to tighten temporarily.”
This does not look good. Once again we have countries on the world theater behaving like children on the playground. And while the European Union is not a single country, it behaves as one unit in cases of trade.
I fear that this escalation may lead to unintended consequences. Greece, an EU member, needs to be considered during these exchanges because of how desperately it depends on the low-priced Iranian oil. Such an embargo may hurt the already fragile economy for Greece.
The strait, according to the AP article, is just 34 miles wide and is the only way to get from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean. This means it would be easily defensible by Iran if its threat is carried out. There also is the likelihood of U.S. military involvement if these issues progress too far.
The origin of the EU embargo and similar U.S. sanctions enacted last month is to apply pressure on Iran to discontinue its nuclear enrichment program — a program “in violation of six U.N. Security Council resolutions and 11 resolutions by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” according to a statement by EU foreign ministers on Monday.
Iran rejected the sanctions but does seem to be willing to work diplomatically, as does the EU.
I think the only way we can prevent something Iran is already calling a “psychological war” would be for President Barack Obama to step in and get an open discussion going. If these conditions do not improve, however, it is likely the U.S. will side with our ally the EU, which could lead to another war in the region. Let us hope not.
To contact Mike Wormley, email firstname.lastname@example.org.