Marino: Iran must not block oil tankers Move would constitute 'act of war,' congressman says
SHAMOKIN - If Iran decides to block a key waterway in the Persian Gulf, it could be considered "an act of war," U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-10) said.
But, the congressman added, he doesn't think it will come to that.
Iran's threat of blocking the Strait of Hormuz over economic sanctions was among the topics Marino addressed Friday in an editorial board session at The News-Item.
"We certainly do not want to get into another war ... We've got to avoid that at all costs," he said.
The lawmaker, who recently completed his first year in office, said Iran is one of the biggest threats the United States faces today.
"The Iranians and the
extreme Muslims have a mission: to destroy America any way possible," he said. "We are dealing with a government, and I use that term loosely, a dictatorship that, at any given time, if they can inflict damage on us, they would do so. So we can't take them lightly."
The latest tension involves the strait, which provides the only way out of the Persian Gulf for tankers that transport one-sixth of the world's oil exports. Because of the tension, oil prices jumped over $100 a barrel this week.
"If they close down the Strait of Hormuz, that's an act of war," Marino said. "If there is no indication of diplomatic relations working and they just continue to prevent transportation of oil through there, then we have to put military options on the table."
The Lycoming County congressman believes Iran won't follow through on its threat, not just because of the U.S.
"If that oil supply is cut off, it's not only going to hurt the United States, but other countries more so," Marino said. "I think you are going to see other countries step up to the plate, saying we are not going to tolerate this."
With that, he added, "I think they are smart enough to realize that they could poke us in the eye and get away with it, but they are going to inflame already tough situations with others," the congressman said, "particularly in the Arab countries."
There was hope Friday that tensions may ease as news spread of U.S. Navy destroyer USS Kidd personnel boarding a Iranian fishing boat to save the 13-member crew from Somali pirates, which had been using the boat as a "mother ship" for operations for more than 40 days.
A State Department spokesperson called it a "humanitarian gesture" to take the Iranians on board to care for them before setting them off.
The solution, Marino believes, is to continue the course the world is taking with Iran.
"We have to hit them seriously hard with economic sanctions," he said. "I think it's working to a certain extent because they are having problems economically."