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The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) of Iran opened this week a new naval base in a coastal town along the world’s most important oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, a theater of frequent incidents and frictions between Iran and the United States.
The IRGC, including its Al Quds Force, were designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. last year.
The new naval base at Sirik, a coastal Iranian town east of the Strait of Hormuz, was officially launched on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by IRGC Chief Commander Major General Hossein Salami, Iran’s PressTV reported on Thursday.
“With the opening and unveiling of this base, the country’s combat operations, ship operations, reconnaissance as well as defensive and offensive operations in the Persian Gulf will further develop,” PressTV quoted the commander as saying.
Ira—which has repeatedly threatened in recent years to close the Strait of Hormuz if it can’t export its oil—often holds naval war games and military drills in its waters in the Gulf, including in areas close to the most important shipping lane in the world.
The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil chokepoint in the world with daily oil flows averaging 21 million bpd, or the equivalent of 21 percent of global petroleum liquids consumption. According to EIA estimates, 76 percent of the crude oil and condensate that moved through the Strait of Hormuz last year went to Asian markets, with China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore the top destinations.
Tensions between the United States and Iran in the Gulf have flared on and off in recent years, especially after the U.S. pulled out of the so-called Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports.
In one of the latest major incidents in the Gulf earlier this year, the tension in the Middle East and around the Strait of Hormuz spiked after the U.S. killed the top Iranian general of the Al Quds forces, Qassem Soleimani, for which Iran retaliated with a ballistic missiles attack on U.S. bases in Iraq.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,