Iranian naval threats
A report by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) states that Iran could use its naval forces to cut off oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, where almost a third of all the world’s oil supplies pass.
The report, “Iran’s Naval Forces: From Guerrilla Warfare to a Modern Naval Strategy,” stated that blocking ships from passing through the 90-mile Strait would cause Iran “tremendous economic damage” and that, thus, Tehran would not “undertake a closure lightly.”
“However, given the importance of the Strait, disrupting traffic flow or even threatening to do so may be an effective tool for Iran,” the report, dated fall 2009, said.
The report said Iran could use its Chinese-made C-801/802 antiship cruise missiles to “target any point within the Strait of Hormuz and much of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.”
Economically, closure of the Strait would cause major economic disruption throughout the world due to greatly reduced supplies of crude oil, petroleum products and liquid natural gas, the report said.
A spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which has as one of its priorities maintaining the free passage of shipping through the Persian Gulf, had no comment on the threat to the Strait.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by reporters last year about Iranian threats to close the Strait. He said, “The analysis that I have certainly indicates that they have capabilities which could certainly hazard the Straits of Hormuz.”
But he added: “I believe that the ability to sustain that is not there.”
The ONI report noted that Iran has been building up its naval forces for the past decade with submarines and warships. In a conflict, the Iranians would engage in asymmetric warfare tactics that include the use of conventional weapons in unconventional ways, such as using small boats to lay mines and fire missiles, the report said.
Iran’s navy has deployed large numbers of fast patrol and attack boats imported from North Korea and China and equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles. It also has torpedo-equipped semisubmersible craft purchased from North Korea in 2002, along with Kilo submarines from Russia.
Additionally, since the late 1990s, Iran’s navy has purchased fast boats from the Italian speedboat manufacturer Fabio Buzzi Design, which builds racing boats.
“Besides purchasing a number of models, which are based on record-breaking racing boats, the [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy] reverse engineered the boats and began indigenously producing them,” the report said. that he did not respond to troop requests from U.S. commanders in Afghanistan.
Mr. Rumsfeld in a statement took issue with Mr. Obama’s claim that commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the growing Taliban threat but “these reinforcements did not arrive.”
“Such a bald misstatement, at least as it pertains to the period I served as secretary of defense, deserves a response,” said Mr. Rumsfeld, who headed the Pentagon from 2001 to 2006.
“I am not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006,” he said. “If any such requests occurred, ‘repeated’ or not, the White House should promptly make them public. The president’s assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan.”
Mr. Rumsfeld said he would like Congress to review Mr. Obama’s assertion and “determine exactly what requests were made, who made them, and where and why in the chain of command they were denied.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to comment on the criticism.
“You go to war with the secretary of defense you have,” Mr. Gibbs said, paraphrasing Mr. Rumsfeld’s comments in response to critics who said the Pentagon had failed to provide resources to forces in Afghanistan.