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Sheila Samples:
Iran can shut down vital oil route: US navy



As word spreads of an upcoming Israeli attack on Tehran, the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) confirms that Iran can easily seal off the Strait of Hormuz in the event of war.

According to a September assessment, if the United States or Israel decide to bomb Tehran's nuclear sites, Iran's naval modernization and maritime capabilities have reached a point where it can shut down the Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly 40 percent of the world's oil supplies pass.

"Given the importance of the Strait, disrupting traffic flow or even threatening to do so may be an effective tool for Iran," said the intelligence report.

The assessment, which was revealed by Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin on Friday, was first posted on the website for the ONI, but abruptly removed after about a week.

It notes that while Iran's ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz may be transitory, the impact would undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the already-fragile world economy.

"[World economies would suffer] a serious economic impact from a sustain closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to greatly reduced supplies of crude oil, petroleum supplies and (liquefied natural gas)," ONI said.

On the same note, the report adds that not only has Tehran acquired "increasingly sophisticated systems" from China and Russia, but the “modernization” of the Iranian navy is to an extent that would help the government carry out such a closure if need be.

The report was referring to a series of domestic accomplishments by the Iranian navy in maritime capabilities and seafaring technology.

In recent months, Iran has added a new generation of domestic submarines, battleships, frigates, vessels, and high-speed missile boats to its fleet in a bid to protect its territorial waters from foreign threats.

According to the ONI report, Iran's possession of high-speed missile torpedo capable of 250 knots has especially worried the US Navy as it would render foreign warships, aircraft carriers and other battle group ships vulnerable.

The report comes as Mark Fitzpatrick, a chief proliferation analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said that the chances of a full-fledged Israeli military action against Iran are much higher now.

"I am sad to say that Iran's announcement makes a military attack on the facilities more likely. If so, it will be a more target-rich environment," Fitzpatrick said.

Israel routinely threatens to bomb Iran's nuclear sites, arguing that the country's enrichment activities are an existential threat to Tel Aviv, which ironically is reported to have the Middle East's sole nuclear arsenal and 200 nuclear warheads at its disposal.

In response, Iran warns that if Israel steps out of line, it will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to maritime traffic, including the 15 or so supertankers that daily sail through to deliver the world's oil supplies.

Rear Admiral Haibollah Sayyari, the commander of Iran's Navy, said in September that the Islamic Republic will stage a stronger presence on the high seas "in a bid to protect the country's shipping lanes."

Iranian Naval Forces "are constantly making efforts to have an active role in international waters, in addition to defending the interests of the Islamic Republic," Sayyari told Fars News.

"Therefore, it has a duty to block routes used by the enemy, should the necessity arise. It is also tasked with clearing waterways" used by Iranian vessels, he added.

 

 

 

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by OpEdNews , December 5, 2009. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers .

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Petroleumworld News 12/ 07/09

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