Iran has positioned a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier at the world’s most important oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, and could use the mock-up in naval war games in the area, according to satellite images reported by Reuters on Monday.
Images taken by U.S. space technology firm Maxar Technologies on Sunday show that Iran had a fast attack boat moving towards the mock-up U.S. aircraft carrier, Reuters noted.
“We cannot speak to what Iran hopes to gain by building this mock-up, or what tactical value they would hope to gain by using such a mock-up in a training or offensive exercise scenario,” Commander Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, told Reuters.
“We remain confident in our naval forces’ ability to defend themselves against any maritime threat,” the spokeswoman noted.
Iran – which has repeatedly threatened in recent years to close the Strait of Hormuz if it can’t export its oil – often holds naval war games and military drills in its waters in the Gulf, including in areas close to the most important shipping lane in the world.
The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil chokepoint in the world with daily oil flows averaging 21 million bpd, or the equivalent of 21 percent of global petroleum liquids consumption. According to EIA estimates, 76 percent of the crude oil and condensate that moved through the Strait of Hormuz last year went to Asian markets, with China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore the top destinations.
Tensions between the United States and Iran in the Gulf have flared on and off in recent years, especially after the U.S. pulled out of the so-called Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports.
In one of the latest major incidents in the Gulf earlier this year, the tension in the Middle East and around the Strait of Hormuz spiked after the U.S. killed the top Iranian general of the Al Quds forces, Qassem Soleimani, for which Iran retaliated with a ballistic missiles attack on U.S. bases in Iraq.