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US-Iran crisis poses fresh and enduring risk to Middle East oil supply

China, India and Japan need to take diplomatic initiative as big importers from Gulf

| Iran
Iranian military forces drill in the Strait of Hormuz in December 2011: Iran may carry out its threat of blockading.   © Reuters

Although the U.S. and Iran had come close to military confrontation in 2019, they stepped back from the brink at the last minute, much to everyone's relief. The U.S. assassination of top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in the early hours of January 3, however, may have pushed the situation beyond retrieval.

This has put the volatile Middle East on the edge and raised the specter of major disruption to oil supplies from the region, which produces nearly a quarter of the world's needs. China, India, Japan and South Korea are heavily reliant on imports from the Gulf, meaning any crisis in the Middle East is going to affect Asia's biggest economies quickly and for the long term.

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