Will Iran and Israel unleash war over oil?

Will Iran and Israel unleash war over oil?

Iran’s defense minister Amir Hatami said Tehran will respond firmly to any Israeli naval action against its oil shipments.

The minister said such confrontation would be considered as “piracy” and warned that "if it happens, we will firmly respond."

"The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat," IRNA cited Hatami as saying.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship fuel. He stressed that Israel's navy could act against Iranian oil "smuggling" to enforce U.S. sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump last year quit a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed some sanctions, aiming to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero.

Iranian officials have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route in the Gulf, if the United States attempts to stop the Islamic Republic’s oil exports, Reuters recalls.

Senior research fellow of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Sazhin, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that direct hostilities between Israel and Iran do not seem real now. "An armed conflict is unlikely - however, blocking Iranian tankers, as well as tankers with Iranian oil registered under flags of any other states, is quite real," he said.

"Iran and Israel have had confrontational relations for many years, and such threats are regular. So it's not likely that Netanyahu wanted to provoke Tehran now. Another thing is that one of Iran's ways to circumvent U.S. sanctions against its oil purchases is to use 'off-radar' tankers. Maybe it annoys Israel, hence Netanyahu made such statements," Vladimir Sazhin stressed.

The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, in turn, stressed that the blockade of Iranian tankers will cause a pre-war state in the region. "Now additional diplomatic steps are required to prevent any military scenario. These days there is a number of very dangerous signals in particular, certain people in the U.S. are considering recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel. In general, there is a need to consider the general Middle Eastern situation in the UN Security Council and take measures to de-escalate tensions in the region," he urged.

"According to the latest SIPRI data on global military spending, Iran is not preparing for war. In such circumstances, Netanyahu is trying to provoke Tehran. Perhaps, there are hidden interests of the companies supplying the Middle East with U.S. weapons. The U.S. accounts for 52% of arms supplies to the region, and without unwinding the Iranian threat, these supplies will decline. Therefore, there is a multidimensional impact on Tehran to provoke it to make some steps," Andrei Baklanov concluded.