President Donald Trump called into Fox News on Friday to say if Iran tries to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial waterway for oil leaving the Middle East, “it’s not going to be closed for long.”
“They’re not going to be closing (the strait),” Trump said, responding to a hypothetical question on “Fox and Friends.” “They know it and they’ve been told in very strong terms. We want to get them back at the table, if they want to go back.
“I’m ready when they are, but whenever they’re ready, it’s OK. And in the meantime, I’m in no rush.”
The negotiating table Trump referred to is in regards to a new nuclear deal after he pulled the U.S. out of the former Iran nuclear deal agreed to in 2015.
Iran threatened to close the strait earlier this year after the U.S. declined to end waivers allowing other countries to buy Iranian oil. Considering the large American naval presence in the area, it will be next to impossible for Iran to follow through on closing the strait for a long period of time. However, it could cause oil prices to spike.
Trump was responding to attacks Thursday on two oil tankers just south in the Gulf of Oman, which borders the strait along with the United Arab Emirates.
The Strait of Hormuz is a critical shipping lane for about one-third of the world’s oil supply.
Iran denied involvement in the attacks.
“Iran categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents and condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” Tehran said in a statement submitted to the United Nations.
However, Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have no doubt about who carried out the attacks, citing video evidence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards removing a mine that had not exploded from one of the ships.
“Iran did do it,” Trump said. “That was the boat, that was them.”
Four other tankers were attacked in the same area on May 12, and “now they’re in deep trouble,” Trump said.
“When I came into office, they were an absolute terror, they were all over the place. They were in Yemen they were in Syria, we had 14 sites of conflict, and they were in charge of every single place,” Trump said. “They were a nation of terror.”
Trump doesn’t yet have a solution to stopping the tanker attacks, but the administration is working on it.
“We’re going to see how to stop these outrageous acts,” Trump said about what the next step is. “We’ll see what happens, and we don’t take it lightly, I can tell you that.”
Alireza Nader, the head of the New Iran Foundation, a Washington think tank that opposes the Islamic Republic, said the U.S. navy would make quick work of Iran’s forces.
“The U.S. has assets designed to take on Russia and China,” he said. “Iran’s ships are very exposed. I’d expect the U.S. would be able to sink Iran’s navy in about two days.”