Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said ‘preparing for war’ in case deal collapses

Fearing military strike if talks break down, Guards reportedly ready to close Strait of Hormuz, where they drilled to attack US forces weeks ago

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards “are preparing for war” in the event that negotiations to turn Thursday’s framework nuclear agreement into a binding deal by June 30 collapse, an Israeli TV report said Sunday night, citing Arab intelligence agencies.

The Israeli Channel 10 report said Arab intelligence agencies have warned “France, the UK and the US” that the Revolutionary Guards fear Iran could face a military strike should the talks break down, and that the Guards are ready to close the Strait of Hormuz and take other unspecified measures. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the US was working as recently as January on improving its biggest bunker buster bombs in case they were needed for strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Continue reading

Commentary: Geopolitical maelstrom

Iran can close the Strait of Hormuz, not just for a few hours, as the Israelis say, but long enough to drive oil prices into the stratosphere. An admiral with years of experience in the region at different times of his career said privately Iran can sow thousands of mines in an area that handles one-fifth of the world’s daily oil requirements. They are below the surface and can be detonated by remote control as a warship sails over them. Iran’s shore line, which covers the entire eastern side of the Persian Gulf, is pock-marked with concealed missile sites.

The Iranians would also use hundreds of small boats in a swarming configuration that U.S. warships are prepared to cope with — but one or two are bound to get through a curtain of fire and punch a hole in the hull of a U.S. or NATO minesweeper.

Such a small boat in Aden harbor in October 2000 punctured the hull of the USS Cole, a $1 billion Arleigh Burke class destroyer, killing 17 sailors, and putting the warship out of service for 18 months with a $220 million repair bill. Cost of the operation to al-Qaida: $10,000 plus three volunteer suicide bombers.

The response of Israeli naysayers is that such tactics would hurt Iran far more than any of its intended targets. U.S. generals and admirals respond that the Iranian leadership wouldn’t be averse to cutting off its nose to spite its face.

The Iranians can also absorb temporary belt-tightening far more readily than Western Europeans. And with gas at the pump suddenly selling at $10 to $15 a gallon, U.S. President Barack Obama’s updated resume wouldn’t look too appealing at the ballot box in November.

The arguments about whether Iran really wants a nuclear capability seem disconnected from reality. Pakistan’s nuclear black marketer A.Q. Khan sold the ayatollahs nuclear secrets two decades ago. By all accounts, Tehran is very close to achieving deliverable nuclear payloads.

U.S. Navy 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain is vulnerable; two-thirds of its population is Shiite Muslim and rooting for Tehran in the current conflict.

Full article: Commentary: Geopolitical maelstrom (Space War)

U.S. Navy: Iran prepares suicide bomb boats in Gulf

“They have increased the number of submarines … they increased the number of fast attack craft,” Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters. “Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory.”

“We have watched with interest their development of long range rockets and short, medium and long range ballistic missiles and of course … the development of their nuclear program,” Fox, who heads the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said at a briefing on the fleet’s base in the Gulf state of Bahrain.

Iran now has 10 small submarines, he said.

Full article: U.S. Navy: Iran prepares suicide bomb boats in Gulf (Reuters)