The ultra-high stakes game of chicken continues in the Straits of Hormuz – as well as in Tehran and Washington. Iran continues to escalate rhetoric and the saber rattling. The British have deployed their most advanced naval destroyer to the Gulf. Additionally, the Iranian press and the AP are reporting that uranium enrichment has begun at the new underground Fordo facility near Qom.
After issuing a bombastic threat last week to the U.S. Fifth Fleet “not to come back” to the Persian Gulf, the Iranian regime announced plans to conduct a second round of military exercises in February for the closure of the critical waterway through which about 17 million barrels of oil flows every day.
The head of Iran’s Navy, Ali Fadavi, made the announcement of the planned February operations in the Straits of Hormuz and added, “Today the Islamic Republic of Iran has full domination over the region and controls all movements within it.”
The British are obviously taking Iran’s bluster seriously. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond warned Iran that a blockade of the Straits of Hormuz would be “illegal and unsuccessful.” The Royal Navy is sending their “mightiest ship,” the HMS Daring, a technologically highly advanced destroyer to the gulf to back up Secretary Hammond’s statement.
On Sunday the Kayhan daily, an Iranian paper said to be “close to Iran’s ruling clerics” and managed by a representative of Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reported uranium enrichment had begun at the Fordo plant near Qom. The Associated Press is citing diplomatic sources confirming the report. Fordo is reported “more efficient” and advanced than Natanz where enrichment began in 2006, as well as heavily fortified to withstand potential “enemy attacks.”
Uranium enrichment by Iran defies numerous United Nations resolutions. Thus far, Obama and the U.N. have proven completely impotent at stalling the Mullahs quest for nuclear capabilities.
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