Strait of Hormuz Will Stay Open, U.S. NATO Ambassador Says

U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Ivo Daalder said international navies will keep the Strait of Hormuz open in the face of Iranian threats to close the shipping channel.

European Union foreign ministers agreed today to ban oil imports from Iran starting July 1 as part of measures to ratchet up the pressure on the nation’s nuclear program. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf passageway for about 20 percent of globally traded oil, if the EU and the U.S. expand sanctions.

“I have not looked at the exact military contingency plannings that there are and how long that would take,” Daalder told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” show, asked about NATO’s capability to keep the strait open. “But of this I am certain: the international waterways that go through the Strait of Hormuz are to be sailed by international navies including ours, the British and the French and any other navy that needs to go through the Gulf; and second, we will make sure that that happens under every circumstance.”

U.S., British and French warships sailed as a group through the strait “to underline the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law,” the U.K. defense ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.

“I am convinced that the Straits of Hormuz need to remain open and that we need to maintain this as an international passageway and we will do what needs to be done to ensure that is the case,” Daalder told the BBC.

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