By Jeremy Herb - 01/03/12 09:41 PM EST
In yet another ratcheting-up of the back-and-forth between the United States and Iran on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Iran is making threats on the Strait of Hormuz because it’s “in a position of weakness.”
“It’s the latest round of Iranian threats and it’s confirmation that Tehran is under increasing pressure for its continued failure to live up to its international obligations,” Carney said at Tuesday’s press briefing. “Iran is isolated and seeking to divert attention from its domestic problems.”
The U.S. Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, said it would stop any attempts to close the strait, and sent the USS John C. Stennis through the strait last week in what the military said was a pre-planned trip.
Pentagon press secretary George Little responded that the military would not stop its operations in the gulf, where it has operated for decades.
Carney said Iran’s threats are a sign that sanctions against the country are working, pointing to the Iranian rial dropping against the dollar.
At the same time, oil prices rose to their highest level in seven months on Tuesday, in part because of the tensions. Financial analysts have warned that even an attempt by Iran to cause problems in the Strait of Hormuz could shoot up oil prices.
Iran’s threats have come as the country conducted 10 days of military exercises in the gulf, which included missile tests.
The tensions stem from the threat of economic sanctions that could harm Iran’s oil-reliant economy. President Obama signed into law a measure Friday that includes sanctions on the Iranian central bank, and the European Union is considering an oil embargo against Iran.