Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Lee Kelsey/U.S. Navy
Iran's threat to close a vital international waterway if stricter sanctions are imposed on Iranian oil exports is more than just bellicose and provocative. It is also a test of U.S. will and commitment in the Persian Gulf at a time when our role in the region is changing.
The world has grown used to chest-thumping by Tehran, and there was nothing particularly noteworthy about the exercises conducted by Iranian armed forces last week to demonstrate their ability to close the Strait of Hormuz. But how the U.S. reacts to the threats is crucially important.
Iran's large arsenal of mines would certainly present a challenge to shipping in the region if Tehran makes good on its threat. Iran has the ability to lay mines from many platforms: small boats, combatants, submarines, midget submarines, even merchant ships. And Western navies, including America's, have long underinvested in minesweeping technology. The U.S. Navy and its allies would be challenged, therefore, to sweep the strait clear of mines laid in large numbers.
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