The United States and Iran both ramped up their military rhetoric this week following the implementation of new sanctions against Iran’s oil exports and the impasse in negotiations over the country’s nuclear programme.
The new sanctions by the European Union and the US, which include an embargo on Iranian oil and the revoking of insurance for ships carrying it, is expected to plunge the Iranian economy into a deep crisis.
Despite this, for now, the regime remains defiant, with MPs in Tehran proposing a closure of the Strait of Hormuz. At the same time, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps embarked on a three-day exercise dubbed “Great Prophet 7” which included the test-firing of dozens of medium and long-range missiles.
Meanwhile, the US is reinforcing its naval forces in the Persian Gulf with additional minesweepers and warships.
General Martin Dempsey, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed over the weekend that Israel and the US will hold its largest ever joint military exercise, Austere Challenge 2012, in October.
Also this week, “technical experts” representing Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Germany (P5+1) met at an undisclosed location in Istanbul in an attempt to narrow the gaps between the positions of both sides on Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. No breakthrough was expected.