Iran backs down from threat to US carriers

A U.S. carrier traveled through the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday without incident, as Iran backed down from a previous threat against U.S. ships entering into the Persian Gulf.

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command released a statement that said the USS Abraham Lincoln “completed a regular and routine transit of the Strait of Hormuz."

French and British joined the U.S. carrier on the trip.

The Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping lane, had been the source of high tensions between the United States and Iran in recent weeks, with Iran making several threats. But after the United States essentially called Iran’s bluff, the country moved away from its threats this weekend.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Deputy Commander Hossein Salami told the official Islamic Republican News Agency, “U.S. warships and military forces have been in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region for many years and their decision in relation to the dispatch of a new warship is not a new issue and it should be interpreted as part of their permanent presence.”

The remarks are a far cry from Iran’s army chief telling the U.S. ships to stay out of the Persian Gulf earlier this month after the USS John Stennis left through the strait.

That followed Iran’s threat last month that it would close the Strait of Hormuz altogether and disrupt oil shipping if Western countries followed through on their economic sanctions.

The weekend’s events would appear to defuse some of the tension with Iran, showing that its threat to close the strait wasn’t much more than a bluff.

But still at issue is Iran’s nuclear program, which it says is for peaceful purposes but the United States and its allies warn is intended to make a nuclear weapon.

The United States implemented sanctions against Iran’s central bank that are designed to target its oil industry, and the European Union is readying an oil embargo against Iran. The idea behind the sanctions is to cripple Iran’s economy in order to convince the country to abandon its nuclear ambitions.