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Iran War Consequences: An Assessment – OpEd

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By Mike Jennings

Heated rhetoric over a potential war on Iran dominates the political atmosphere in the US and Republican candidates are racing over who would launch a pre-emptive attack faster and more effectively.

Absent from the discussion, however, is the ramifications of such an attack on Iran.

Iran has made it clear that it is not after nuclear weapons and that it will not initiate an attack on any other country but the country maintains the right to self-defense and has laid out a set of consequences, in the event of an attack. We will take a look at those consequences and examine whether they are viable or hollow threats.

Closing the oil route

On December 27, Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi warned that imposing sanctions against the country’s energy sector will prompt Tehran to prevent oil cargoes from passing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

About 15.5 million barrels of oil — 35 percent of the world’s seaborne oil shipments — pass through the Strait of Hormuz every day and disruption of the flow even for a few days would leave a catastrophic impact on the global markets at a time when the world’s leading economies are still recovering from recession.

Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari confirmed on December 28 that Iran has complete command over the strategic waterway and that “closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces.”

Although many US-based analysts have ruled out the possibility, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey – the Pentagon’s highest ranking military official – has admitted that in fact Iran does have the capability to close the Strait of Hormuz.

“They’ve invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz,” Dempsey said in an interview aired on the CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday, January 8. “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that,” he added.

In the event of a naval conflict in the Strait of Hormuz, however, the Iranian Navy will have the upper hand. Being native to the region and having military bases along the southern coast of the country, gives the Iranian Navy advantage over American and British naval vessels in the region.

With the Strait of Hormuz closed, the Iranian navy has the option of deploying warships from the southwest coast of Iran and surrounding the US-led vessels that attempt to attack the vessels blocking the strait.

The Iranian Navy’s firepower should not be underestimated. The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has successfully developed and test-fired the hoot torpedo, which at 360 km/h (223 mph) travels several times faster than conventional torpedoes. The Hoot torpedo is said to be capable of sinking warships and destroyers. According to IRGC only two other countries manufacture such torpedoes.

The Iranian Navy also boasts over a dozen Ghadir submarines, capable of conducting prolonged missions and mounted with hoot torpedoes.

Last week, Iran wrapped up a massive 10-day Velayat 90 naval exercise, covering an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

During the drills Iran successfully test-fired a range of indigenous state of the art medium- and long-range missiles, including the anti-radar surface to air Mehrab projectile, the surface-to-surface Nour (Light), and the coast-to-sea Qader (Capable) missile, with a range of 200 kilometers.

Iran’s naval capabilities render the threat of closing the Strait of Hormuz real.

Attacking invaders on their own soil

In March 2011, Brigadier General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, the senior military adviser to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, said that in the event of a military attack on Iran, the country will chase and destroy its enemies on their own soil.

Addressing those who threaten to attack Iran, he said, “If you (enemies) invade Iran… we will chase, punish and target and destroy you beyond the country’s borderlines.”

In November 2011, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi warned would-be aggressors that “adventurism and any hostile measure against Iran’s territorial integrity will be met with a decisive, swift and crushing response from the country’s armed forces.”

In the same month, Brigadier General Yadollah Javani said that Iran will not just repel enemy attacks but counter hostile attempts within enemy territory.

“If Israel fires a missile towards our nuclear or critical facilities, it should know that every inch of Israel including its nuclear centers are a target for our missiles [to hit] and we have this capability today,” the Iranian general said.

To back up such claims, Iran has an array of long-range missiles including Ashura, Sejjil, Ghadr-110 and Shahab-3, which is equipped with a one-ton conventional warhead and capable of hitting targets within a 2,000-kilometer range.

All the US military bases in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Israel easily fall within the 2,000-kilometer range of Iran’s Ballistic missiles. Given that Iran designs, develops and mass produces its own military hardware, sanctions and embargos are unlike to cause any shortage of missiles, should circumstances necessitate their use.

According to Iran’s Air Force chief, Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani, the country has revamped its fighter jet fleet to fly distances of 3,000 kilometers which would allow the aircraft to fly to Israel – or any US military base in the region — and back without refueling.

Given Iran’s missile and aerial capabilities it appears that this threat is also very real.

If the American politicians have failed to learn anything from the Invasion of Iraq over its non-existent weapons of mass destruction, they should think about the consequences before they launch an attack on Iran over its non-existent nuclear weapons program.

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One thought on “Iran War Consequences: An Assessment – OpEd

  • January 10, 2012 at 12:52 am
    Permalink

    Certain points are conspicuously absent here. You seem to be painting an ominous picture concerning the outcome of a conflict by focusing only on recent claims made by Iran about it’s capabilities. You seem to hold these as true without reconciling them against Iran’s interest in making them at this critical juncture.

    What is more is that you altogether fail to contrast these against the military capabilities of the west. You are effectively predicting an outcome between two sides by taking into account only the select claims/facts surrounding only one of them. It lacks context so I find the term ‘assessment’ a bit generous.

    Reply

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