KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Kuwait’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the crucial Gulf oil supply route, amounted to a “punishment” of its Arab neighbours.
“By making such remarks, the Iranian officials are hinting at punishing the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah was quoted as saying by leading Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas.
Kuwait is one of the six members of the GCC monarchies, which also include oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which separates Iran and Oman, if it became the target of a military attack over its controversial nuclear programme.
The new head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, renewed the threat on Monday when he announced that the Islamic republic had successfully tested an anti-ship missile with a range of 300 kilometres (180 miles).
Jafari said Iran could impose an “indefinite blockade” of the Strait of Hormuz — a vital conduit through which an estimated 40 percent of the world’s crude oil passes.
Sheikh Mohammed reiterated the GCC position “supporting Iran’s right in using nuclear energy for peaceful means and their rejection of any military action against it.”
“What we need now is stability and wisdom,” he added.
Washington has never ruled out resorting to military action over what it charges is Tehran’s effort to develop a nuclear weapon.
The United States and its allies have urged Iran to freeze its nuclear programme and the White House on Tuesday warned of new “punitive” measures if Tehran failed to respond positively to the demand.
Iran insists it wants to develop nuclear power for civilian purposes only in the knowledge that its huge oil and gas reserves will eventually run out.