The United States relayed a message to Iran that blocking the Strait of Hormuz would be a “red line,” the New York Times reported.
The newspaper reported Friday that there is considerable skepticism in the Obama administration and among the military that Iran would go through with threats to shut the strait, through which much of the world’s oil must pass, if only because Iran would effectively cut off its own oil trade by doing so.
Nonetheless, the threat was deemed important enough to convey to Iran through secret channels that such a shutting would prompt a military response.
Iran issued the threats in the wake of a series of steps the Obama administration has taken in recent weeks to intensify sanctions until Iran agrees to make more transparent its suspected nuclear weapons program.
A number of media outlets are reporting this week that Iran has agreed to reopen discussions later this month about its nuclear program, which it maintains is purely civilian in nature, with the International Atomic Energy Agency.