Iran threatened Tuesday to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz if the West imposes new sanctions that target the country’s oil exports. The threat has raised some eyebrows, as the strait is one of the world's most critical oil choke points

Military personnel place a flag on a submarine Tuesday during war games being conducted by the Iranian navy in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran. (STRINGER/IRAN/REUTERS)

The Washington Post’s correspondent in Tehran, Thomas Erdbrink, reports:

The narrow passage at the entrance to the Persian Gulf hosts a daily caravan of tankers that transport roughly a third of the world’s oil shipments... A closure would prompt a spike in oil prices, analysts said, dealing a further blow to the troubled world economy.

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 Iran, however, is unlikely to make good on its threats, according to Erdbrink, in large part because it needs the strategic waterway just as much as, if not more than, others do.

“We would be committing economical suicide by closing off the Hormuz Strait,” an Iranian Oil Ministry official told Erdbrink, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “Oil money is our only income, so we would be spectacularly shooting ourselves in the foot by doing that.”