U.S. Draws Red Line with Iran

The United States government reportedly sent a letter to Iran via several mediators last week warning Tehran that any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz constituted a red line for Washington. It appears that the U.S., Israel and Iran are inching their way closer to military conflict.

Many assume, that the assassination of the Iranian scientist associated with the country’s nuclear program last week was either a U.S. or most likely an Israeli operation. The recent killing of an Iranian scientist has generated fear and morale problems among those working on the nuclear program.

Mark Helprin writing for the Wall Street Journal (January 18th), makes these sensible conclusions about Iran’s grab for power:

Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe and thereby cleave it from American interests in the Middle East; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel’s nuclear deterrent so as to limit it to the attrition of conventional battle, or to destroy it with one lucky shot; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia, which aided by geography and American arms now outclasses it; and to threaten the U.S. directly.

The Iranians are quite willing to obstruct the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 40 percent of seaborne crude and 20 percent of the world’s traded oil passes daily. Doing so would hurt the Iranian people. If an air attack takes place Iran would move quickly to close the Strait. Obstructing the flow of oil could rapidly create a global financial panic -–world stock markets would swoon.

The Chinese and Indians — Iran’s No. 1 and 3 buyers of crude oil, will continue to buy from Iran. Beijing is the largest importer of Iranian oil in Asia, accounting for almost 20% of all shipments from Tehran. Turkey, an American ally, will continue to trade with Iran—so will Russia, an important trading partner. The Europeans claim they will participate in much stronger sanctions against Iran, but they already have delayed implementing action against the Iranians. Italy and Greece are large importers of Iranian oil and do not want to see harder sanctions.

Iran warned Saudi Arabia against delivering additional oil to world markets should oil supplies to the world market shrink due to sanctions against Iran. Saudi Arabia is in favor of air strikes against Iran. Saudi princes believe Iran is trying to topple the Saudi Kingdom—there is bad blood between the two countries. The warning from Tehran came a day after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister promised to boost the kingdom’s production by as much as 2.7 million barrels a day if Iran attempts to close down the Strait of Hormuz.

“The way of peace they have not known” (Isaiah 59:8). War is more likely than not. Jesus Christ warned that man would eventually come to the point of self-destruction, except that Christ Himself will intervene to save mankind (Matthew 24:21-22). Christ will then establish the Kingdom of God, the focus of His teaching (Mark 1:14).

Steven LeBlanc

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