The US announcement that it will not be renewing waivers that permit some countries to continue importing limited volumes of Iranian oil has brought the Strait of Hormuz back into the spotlight (see map). Iran was quick to flag up the strategic chokepoint, with Alireza Tangsiri, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ navy telling local media on 22 April “we will shut it down” if efforts were made to prevent Iran from using the passage.

Closure of the Strait of Hormuz is a classic high impact, low probability risk. Iranian officials over the years have made the threat on multiple occasions when tensions with the US have ratcheted up. To date, it has been merely a paper tiger and there are strong reasons to suspect that Iran will not act this time either. For one thing, it’s far from clear they have the capability to close it for any length of time, and any effort to do so would provoke a strong military response. (CONTINUED - 1030 WORDS)