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définition - Strait of Hormuz

Strait of Hormuz (n.)

1.a strategically important strait linking the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman

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synonymes - Strait of Hormuz

Strait of Hormuz (n.)

Strait of Ormuz

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dictionnaire analogique


Strait of Hormuz

  The Strait of Hormuz (red arrow) connects the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf.
  Blue arrows illustrate the strait's Traffic Separation Scheme.
  Satellite image
  Map of Strait of Hormuz with maritime political boundaries (2004)
  Historical map of the area (1892)

The Strait of Hormuz /hɔrˈmz/ (Arabic: مَضيق هُرمُزMaḍīq Hurmuz, Persian: تَنگِه هُرمُزTangeh-ye Hormoz) is a narrow, strategically important strait between the Gulf of Oman in the southeast and the Persian Gulf. On the north coast is Iran and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman.

The strait at its narrowest is 21 nautical miles (39 km) wide.[1] It is the only sea passage to the open ocean for large areas of the petroleum-exporting Persian Gulf and is one of the world's most strategically important choke points. Around 20% of the world's oil, which is about 35% of seaborne traded oil, passes through the strait.[1]



  Old map

The opening to the Persian Gulf was described, but not given a name, in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st-century mariner's guide:

"At the upper end of these Calaei islands is a range of mountains called Calon, and there follows not far beyond, the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where there is much diving for the pearl-mussel. To the left of the straits are great mountains called Asabon, and to the right there rises in full view another round and high mountain called Semiramis; between them the passage across the strait is about six hundred stadia; beyond which that very great and broad sea, the Persian Gulf, reaches far into the interior. At the upper end of this gulf there is a market-town designated by law called Apologus, situated near Charaex Spasini and the River Euphrates."
—Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Chapter 35

In the 10th to 17th centuries AD, the Kingdom of Ormus, which seems to have given the strait its name, was located here. Scholars, historians and linguists derive[2][dead link] the name "Ormuz" from the local Persian word هورمغ Hur-mogh meaning date palm.[3][dubious ] In the local dialects of Hurmoz and Minab this strait is still called Hurmogh and has the aforementioned meaning.[citation needed] The resemblance of this word with the name of the Persian God هرمز Hormoz (a variant of Ahura Mazda) has resulted in the popular belief[citation needed][neutrality is disputed] that these words are related.


Ships moving through the Strait follow a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), which separates inbound from outbound traffic to reduce the risk of collision. The traffic lane is six miles (10 km) wide, including two two-mile (3 km)-wide traffic lanes, one inbound and one outbound, separated by a two-mile (3 km) wide separation median.

To traverse the Strait, ships pass through the territorial waters of Iran and Oman under the transit passage provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.[4] Although not all countries have ratified the convention,[5] most countries, including the U.S.,[6] accept these customary navigation rules as codified in the Convention. Oman has a radar site Link Quality Indicator (LQI) to monitor the TSS in the strait of Hormuz. This site is on a small island on the peak of Musandam Peninsula.

  Traffic statistics

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, on an average day in 2011, about 14 tankers carrying 17 million barrels (2,700,000 m3) of crude oil passed out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait. This was said to represent 35% of the world's seaborne oil shipments, and 20% of oil traded worldwide. The report stated that more than 85 percent of these crude oil exports went to Asian markets, with Japan, India, South Korea and China the largest destinations.[1]

A 2007 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies also stated that 17 million barrels passed out of the Gulf daily, but that oil flows through the Strait accounted for roughly 40% of all world-traded oil[7]


  Operation Praying Mantis

On 18 April 1988, the U.S. Navy waged a one-day battle against Iranian forces in and around the strait. The battle, dubbed Operation Praying Mantis by the U.S. side, was launched in retaliation for the 14 April mining of the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) by Iran. U.S. forces sank one frigate, one gunboat, and as many as six armed speedboats in the engagement and seriously damaged a second frigate.

  The downing of Iran Air 655

On 3 July 1988, 290 people were killed when an Iran Air Airbus A300 passenger jet was shot down over the strait by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes in a case of mistaken identity.

  Collision between USS Newport News and tanker Mogamigawa

On 8 January 2007, the nuclear submarine USS Newport News, traveling submerged, struck M/V Mogamigawa, a 300,000-ton Japanese-flagged very large crude tanker, south of the strait.[8] There were no injuries, and no oil leaked from the tanker.

  Tensions in 2008

  2008 US-Iranian naval dispute

A series of naval stand-offs between Iranian speedboats and U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz occurred in December 2007 and January 2008. U.S. officials accused Iran of harassing and provoking their naval vessels; Iranian officials denied these allegations. On 14 January 2008, U.S. naval officials appeared to contradict the Pentagon version of the 16 January event, in which U.S. officials said U.S. vessels were near to firing on approaching Iranian boats. The Navy's regional commander, Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, said the Iranians had "neither anti-ship missiles nor torpedoes" and that he "wouldn't characterize the posture of the US 5th Fleet as afraid of these small boats".[9]

  Iranian defence policy

On 29 June 2008, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Ali Mohammed Jafari, said that if Iran were attacked by Israel or the United States, it would seal off the Strait of Hormuz, to wreak havoc in oil markets. This statement followed other more ambiguous threats from Iran's oil minister and other government officials that a Western attack on Iran would result in turmoil in oil supply.

In response, Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain across the Persian Gulf from Iran, warned that such an action by Iran would be considered an act of war, and that the U.S. would not allow Iran to effectively hold hostage nearly a third of the world's oil supply.[10]

On 8 July 2008, Ali Shirazi, a mid-level clerical aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted by the student news agency ISNA as saying to Revolutionary Guards, "The Zionist regime is pressuring White House officials to attack Iran. If they commit such a stupidity, Tel Aviv and U.S. shipping in the Persian Gulf will be Iran's first targets and they will be burned."[11]

  Naval activity in 2008

In the last week of July 2008, in the Operation Brimstone,[12] dozens of U.S. and foreign navy ships came to off the eastern coast in the U.S., to undergo joint exercises for possible military activity in the shallow waters off the coast of Iran.

As of 11 August 2008, more than 40 U.S. and allied ships reportedly were en route to the Strait of Hormuz. One U.S. carrier battle group from Japan would complement two more, which are already in the Persian Gulf, for a total of five battle groups, not counting submarines.[13]

  Collision between USS Hartford and USS New Orleans

On 20 March 2009, United States Navy Los Angeles-class submarine USS Hartford (SSN-768) collided with the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD-18) in the strait. The collision, which slightly injured 15 sailors aboard the Hartford, ruptured a fuel tank aboard the New Orleans, spilling 25,000 US gallons (95 m3) of marine diesel fuel.[14]

  Tensions in 2011–2012

On 27 December 2011, Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi threatened to cut off oil supply from the Strait of Hormuz should economic sanctions limit, or cut off, Iranian oil exports.[15] A U.S. Fifth Fleet spokeswoman said in response that the Fleet was "always ready to counter malevolent actions", whilst Admiral Habibollah Sayari of the Iranian navy claimed that cutting off oil shipments would be "easy".[16] Despite an initial 2% rise in oil prices, oil markets ultimately did not react significantly to the Iranian threat, with oil analyst Thorbjoern Bak Jensen of Global Risk Management concluding that "they cannot stop the flow for a longer period due to the amount of U.S. hardware in the area".[17]

On 3 January 2012, Iran threatened to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier back into the Persian Gulf. Iranian Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the United States had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf because of Iran's naval exercises, and Iran would take action if the ship returned. "Iran will not repeat its warning...the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Gulf of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf", he said.[18]

The U.S. Navy spokesman Commander Bill Speaks quickly responded that deployment of U.S. military assets would continue as has been the custom stating: "The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce."[19]

While earlier statements from Iran had little effect on global oil markets, coupled with the new sanctions, these terse comments from Iran are driving crude futures higher, up over 4%.[citation needed] Pressure on prices reflect a combination of uncertainty driven further by China’s recent response – reducing oil January 2012 purchases from Iran by 50% compared to those made in 2011.[citation needed]

The U.S. led sanctions may be “beginning to bite” as Iranian currency has recently lost some 12% of its value. Further pressure on Iranian currency was added by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Tuesday calling for "stricter sanctions" and urged EU countries to follow the US in freezing Iranian central bank assets and imposing an embargo on oil exports.[20]

On 7 January 2012, the United Kingdom announced that it would be sending the Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring to the Persian Gulf. Daring, which is the lead ship of her class is claimed to be one of the "most advanced warships" in the world, and will undertake its first mission in the Persian Gulf.[21] The British Government however have said that this move has been long-planned, as Daring will replace another Armilla patrol frigate.[22]

On 9 January 2012, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi denied that Iran had ever claimed that it would close the Strait of Hormuz, saying that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is the most important provider of security in the strait...if one threatens the security of the Persian Gulf, then all are threatened."[23]

The Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed on 16 January 2012 that it has received a letter from the United States concerning the Strait of Hormuz, “via three different channels.” Authorities were considering whether to reply, although the contents of the letter were not divulged.[24] The US had previously announced its intention to warn Iran that closing the Strait of Hormuz is a “red line” that would provoke an American response.[25] Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this past weekend that the United States would “take action and reopen the strait,” which could be accomplished only by military means, including minesweepers, warship escorts and potentially airstrikes. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told troops in Texas on Thursday that the United States would not tolerate Iran’s closing of the strait. Nevertheless Iran continued to discuss the impact of shutting the Strait on world oil markets, saying that any disruption of supply would cause a shock to markets that “no country” could manage.[26]

By 23 January, a flotilla had been established by countries opposing Iran's threats to close the Hormuz Strait.[27] These ships operated in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea off the coast of Iran. The flotilla included two American aircraft carriers (the USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln) and three destroyers (USS Momsen, USS Sterett, USS Halsey), seven British warships, including the destroyer HMS Daring and a number of Type 23 frigates (HMS Westminster, HMS Argyll, HMS Somerset and HMS St Albans), and a French warship.[28]

On 24 January tensions rose further after the European Union imposed sanctions on Iranian oil. A senior member of Iran's parliament said that the Islamic Republic would close the entry point to the Gulf if new sanctions block its oil exports.[29] "If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told the semi-official Fars News Agency.

  Ability of Iran to hinder shipping

The Millennium Challenge 2002 was to simulate an attempt by Iran to close the strait. The assumptions and results were controversial.[30]

A 2008 article in International Security contended that Iran could seal off or impede traffic in the Strait for a month, and an attempt by the U.S. to reopen it would be likely to escalate the conflict.[31] In a later issue, however, the journal published a response which questioned some key assumptions and suggested a much shorter timeline for re-opening.[32]

In December 2011 Iran's navy began a 10-day exercise in international waters near the strait. The Iranian Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, stated that the strait would not be closed during the exercise; Iranian forces could easily accomplish that but such a decision must be made at a political level.[33][34]

Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted in a December 2011 Reuters article: "Efforts to increase tension in that part of the world are unhelpful and counter-productive. For our part, we are comfortable that we have in the region sufficient capabilities to honor our commitments to our friends and partners, as well as the international community." In the same article, Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution, said, "The expectation is that the U.S. military could address any Iranian threat relatively quickly."[35]

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in January 2012 that Iran “has invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz.” He also stated, “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that.”[36]

  See also


  1. ^ a b c "Strait of Hormuz". World Oil Transit Chokepoints. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 30 December 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Minicipality of Minab, (in Persian). accessed: 30 december 2011.
  4. ^ "The Encyclopedia of Earth". National Council for Science and Environment. 
  5. ^ "Chronological lists of ratifications of, accessions and successions to the Convention and the related Agreements as at 26 October 2007". Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. UN. 
  6. ^ U.S. President Ronald Reagan (10 March 1983) (PDF). Presidential Proclamation 5030. United States Department of State. Retrieved 21 January 2008 
  7. ^ Anthony H. Cordesman (26 March 2007). "Iran, Oil, and the Strait of Hormuz". Center for Strategic and International Studies. 
  8. ^ Dorsey, Jack (10 January 2007). "Navy says speed of tanker sucked submarine up to surface". The Virginian Pilot. 
  9. ^ Isenberg, David (10 January 2008). "A game of chicken in the Persian Gulf". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Navy Commander Warns Iran: Don't Try Closing Gulf Oil Passageway". Fox News. 2 July 2008.,2933,374905,00.html. 
  11. ^ "Iran to "hit Tel Aviv, U.S. ships" if attacked". Yahoo News. 8 July 2008. 
  12. ^ "JTFEX 08-4 "Operation Brimstone" Flexes Allied Force Training". US Navy. 15 July 2008. 
  13. ^ "Three major US naval strike forces due this week in Persian Gulf". Debkafile. 11 August 2008. 
  14. ^ "U.S. Navy vessels in Bahrain for evaluation after collision". CNN. 20 March 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Oil jumps over 2% as Iran threatens supplies". CNN. 27 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "US warns Iran over threat to block oil route". BBC News. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Gibbons, Robert (28 December 2011). "Oil falls on dollar's rise, Wall Street pullback". Reuters. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  18. ^ Hafezi, Parisa (3 January 2012). "Iran threatens U.S. Navy as sanctions hit economy". Reuters. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "Iran nuclear crisis: Sanctions 'beginning to bite'". BBC News. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  20. ^ "State Department: Iran is feeling the pressure - Yahoo! News". 3 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  21. ^ Harding, Thomas (6 January 2012). "Royal Navy sends its mightiest ship to take on the Iranian show of force in the Gulf". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "HMS Daring to head for the Gulf". Press Association. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "Iran and the Strait of Hormuz". Tabeer. 
  24. ^ "News Headlines". 16 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  25. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth; Schmitt, Eric; Shanker, Thom (12 January 2012). "U.S. Warns Top Iran Leader Not to Shut Strait of Hormuz". The New York Times. 
  26. ^ Smith, Grant (16 January 2012). "Oil Climbs From Four-Week Low as Iran Warns of Hormuz Supply Disruption". Bloomberg. 
  27. ^ "Iran: Flotilla Of Warships Sent Through Strait of Hormuz Heightens Tensions". Huffington Post. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  28. ^ "Iran: EU oil sanctions 'unfair' and 'doomed to fail'". BBC. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  29. ^ Blair, David (23 January 2012). "Iran threatens to close Strait of Hormuz over EU oil sanctions". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Closing Time: Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait of Hormuz, by Caitlin Talmadge, International Security, Harvard Kennedy School
  32. ^ "Costs and Difficulties of Blocking the Strait of Hormuz", International Security, Winter 2008/2009
  33. ^ "Iranian navy begins exercise in waters near strategic oil route". China Daily. 26 December 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  34. ^ "Shutting Off Gulf 'Very Easy': Iran Navy Chief". CNBC. Reuters. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  35. ^ "Hormuz Blockade: Not as Easy as Iran May Think". CNBC. Reuters. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  36. ^ Hunter, Kathleen; Gienger, Viola (8 January 2012). "Iran Has Ability to Block Strait of Hormuz, U.S. General Dempsey Tells CBS". Bloomberg. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  • . الكوخردى ، محمد ، بن يوسف، (كُوخِرد حَاضِرَة اِسلامِيةَ عَلي ضِفافِ نَهر مِهران) الطبعة الثالثة ،دبى: سنة 199۷ للميلاد Mohammed Kookherdi (1997) Kookherd, an Islamic civil at Mehran river, third edition: Dubai
  • . کامله،القاسمی، بنت شیخ عبدالله، (تاریخ لنجة) مکتبة دبي للتوزیع، الامارات: الطبعة الثانية عام ۱۹۹۳ للمیلاد
  • . الوحیدی الخنجی، حسین بن علی بن احمد، «تاریخ لنجه» ، الطبعة الثانية دبی: دار الأمة للنشر والتوزیع، ۱۹۸۸ للمیلاد
  • . اطلس گیتاشناسی استان‌های ایران [Atlas Gitashenasi Ostanhai Iran] (Gitashenasi Province Atlas of Iran)

  Further reading

  External links


Coordinates: 26°34′N 56°15′E / 26.567°N 56.25°E / 26.567; 56.25



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