Iran tests new weapon, can close Straight of Hormuz – US tests weapon, can reopen Straight – and make it wider

More posturing from the Iranian dictator-at-large. Six world powers simply asked Iran to stop enriching uranium. They won’t stop, and this is the set up to test the new president of the United States.

We might have some more rhetoric babbled from the United Nations over the next few months – with strong words that again demand that Iran stop messing with nukes – but nothing will happen until at least next spring when the new administration is in place. After all, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knows that he’s safe; nobody has the guts to actually go forward with knocking his block off.

Here’s more from the A.P. report on…

Iran announced Monday that it has tested a new weapon capable of sinking ships nearly 200 miles away, and reiterated threats to close a strategic waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf if attacked.

Up to 40 percent of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passage along Iran’s southern coast. Tehran has warned it could shut down tanker traffic there if attacked — a move likely to send oil prices skyrocketing.

The warnings came two days after a deadline expired for Iran to respond to incentives from six world powers, offered in exchange for a promise to curb its uranium enrichment.

Later Monday, the U.S. State Department said the group — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany — agreed to pursue further sanctions against Iran because of its failure to meet the Saturday deadline.

We’ll see what happens, but there is no way that the United States – or any other country – will allow Iran to block the straight. As the A.P. story reminds us, up to 40 percent of the world’s oil passes through this chokepoint.

The straight is a tight channel, and maritime traffic is directed – by international agreement – to traverse within the territorial waters of Iran (and Oman) during passage.

While only 21 miles at it’s narrowest, there is plenty of space for large ships to pass, with three miles between two, two mile channels; one for eastbound and the other for westbound traffic.

With Iran’s posturing, I’ve elected to do a bit of posturing myself by taking liberties with my headline. Iran would not want to take the U.S. on tit-for-tat on this one, and I hope the international community would back us up.

Upcoming – another test to see if the United Nations is worth anything at all.

Israel is the wild card in this situation. They have made it quite clear that they will not let Iran get much further with their nuclear ambitions. If the international community can’t back up their own rhetoric and get serious about what they started more than two years ago (U.N. Resolutions 1696, 1737 and 1747), there may be no stopping Israel.

Resolution 1696 threatened sanctions if Iran did not halt its enrichment of uranium and all other research and development activities. They had until Aug. 31, 2006.

Not much happened on Sept. 1, 2006 – no bark in the 1696 dog – so the UN reaffirmed their disgust in Resolution 1737 around Christmas that same year. It froze some assets of individuals and companies involved in the enrichment program and banned the sale of nuke technology to Iran.

Resolution 1747 (March 2007) introduced a weak arms embargo and “stepped up” the asset-freezing program already in place. I thought that when you “froze” assets they were pretty much “frozen?”

Honestly, I’m not sure Israel should be stopped. All along, Iran’s has been posturing with Ahmadinejad speaking in two tongues. Threats can only be made for so long before someone takes you seriously and pops you in the nose.