US Gulf Forces Drill Tactics to Avert Hormuz Closure

Taking part in the American Persian Gulf exercise in progress since Nov. 2 are the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, its strike force and two smaller helicopter carriers, the USS Wasp and USS Kearsage, which are marine amphibian assault craft. Commander Jay Chambers, who also heads the combined 59th Task Force, described the exercise as tough and demanding but good preparation for realistic scenarios.
The maneuver began shortly after Iranian Gen. Ali Fahdavi stated that the Revolutionary Guards Naval forces under his command are ready and able to strike at oil export traffic heading out of the Gulf region. The statement on Oct. 29 was taken as an implicit Iranian threat to block oil tanker traffic through the Straits of Hormuz chokepoint. Fahdavi added that Iranian suicide teams were also braced to attack any Gulf target.
Friday, Nov. 2, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said: “While they (Iranians) don’t have the bomb yet, they are developing it – or the capability for it.” He was the first Arab ruler to spell this threat out publicly.
At the same time, representatives of the five UN Security Council’s permanent members and Germany who met in London Friday, Nov. 2, again postponed for two-and-a half weeks a decision to bring a third round of sanctions against Iran before the UN Security Council. They agreed to hold sanctions in abeyance until the international nuclear watchdog’s director Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei is ready to present his latest report on Tehran’s adherence to the resolutions calling for its halt in uranium enrichment.
debkafile‘s sources in Moscow and Tehran report that Moscow has warned Tehran that Moscow can no longer defend Iran’s nuclear program against tough international sanctions. This was the message from president Vladimir Putin that the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov carried to Tehran on his sudden visit of Oct. 30 for a meeting with president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Lavrov explained that Moscow will have no choice but to vote with the West at the Security Council and suspend Russian work and nuclear fuel supplies for the Bushehr nuclear reactor.
Putin delivered the same sharp warning to Iranian leaders during his own visit to Tehran on Oct. 16. He also repeated his offer to relocate Iran’s uranium enrichment production to Russia under IAEA supervision. So far, he has received no reply.
debkafile‘s intelligence sources report that a similar proposal was put before Tehran by Saudi foreign minister Prince Saudi al Faisal Friday, Nov. 2. He proposed setting up a Gulf consortium of six members for this purpose, one of which would be Iran, and placing the project under nuclear watchdog oversight. This way, the Saudi minister explained, no single member including Iran would be able to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.
Tehran promptly agreed to join the proposed Gulf consortium but said nothing about giving up its own enrichment installations in Isfahan and Natanz, or the heavy water in Arak for producing plutonium.
debkafile‘s Iranian and military sources emphasize that this upsurge of military motion and diplomacy do not alter the two key elements of the crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear weapons plans:
1. The radical faction led by Ahmadinejad has not been deterred from pushing for Iran to run full speed ahead towards a nuclear weapon, unheeding of possible American military retaliation. This faction appears to be gaining the upper hand against the pragmatists who, led by Supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, hold fast to the argument that a military showdown with American is unnecessary because Iran can afford to be satisfied with a weapons capability, just short of actual production.
2. All the parties involved in the crisis, the US, Iran and the rest of the Gulf and Middle East nations are all geared up for a US-Israel armed confrontation against Iran.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email