Nightly News   |  January 27, 2012

Exclusive: tensions flare near crucial oil chokepoint

An NBC reporter gains access to a region just a few nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most strategic waterways. NBC’s Ali Arouzi reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> no place in that part of the world has people more nervous than iran and this growing war of words over that country's nuclear program. it has all focused attention on a vital choke point. 1/5 of the world's oil passes right through the strait of hormuz , right in iran 's backyard en route into the persian gulf . our tehran bureau chief ali arouzi managed to get a first hand look at those troubled waters .

>> reporter: we were given a rare opportunity to get within a few miles of the strait. it's a busy place. not just a daily parade of oil tankers , but fishing boats , cargo ships and countless unmarked iranian speed boats, making clandestined crossings every day with shoes made in china to japanese darst. iran stages war games here threatens to close the strait, shutting off the flow of oil. 17 million barrels a day. the u.s. vowed to keep the straight open. the aircraft carrier " abraham lincoln " recently passed through and is now in the persian gulf . where merchants and politicians are concerned, this is the most significant waterway in the world. it's i here in the persian gulf america and iran 's resolve will be tested if they can't come to some sort of compromise. iranians are worried about war and feeling the bite of economic sanctions. "everything is more expensive, this fish monger says. this man saw the american fifth fleet looking like a floating city and it scared him to death. not everybody is scared. this merchant, a veteran of the iran / iraq war says iran dealt with this kind of pressure before and will do so again. the pressure is going as the strait of hormuz becomes the focus of a dangerous international tug of war . nbc news, the persian gulf .