Strait of Hormuz
The Strait of Hormuz is a relatively narrow stretch of ocean between the Gulf of Oman in the southeast and the Persian Gulf in the southwest. On the north coast is Iran and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates and an enclave of Oman.
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Strategic position of the islands
Near the north coast are a few islands, which include Abu Musa island and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands, which were forcibly seized from the United Arab Emirates in the early 1970s, although joint sovereignty was kept until 1994. Iran shared control of Abu Musa with the United Arab Emirates since a 1971 agreement between Iran and the emirate of Sharjah (one of the seven emirates of the UAE). In April 1992, Iran expelled South Asian workers from Abu Musa, asserting full control of the island. Since then, the country has build up military forces on the island, stationing anti-aircraft missile batteries, artillery and Silkworm anti-ship missiles.
In a press conference on December 18, 1997, Iranian deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Maleki said that Iran supported the free flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, but reserved the option of closing off the shipping route if it is threatened.