Ira­nian naval threats

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

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.

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