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Iranian Navy Threatens US Navy in Gulf

In what appears a test of provocation, US military officials reported Monday on a significant action over the weekend in which five vessels of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps harrassed US Navy ships with hostile actions and transmitted threats over radio channels.

In one radio transmission, the Iranians told the U.S. Navy: "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes," the U.S. military officials told CNN.

When the U.S. ships heard that radio transmission, they manned their gun positions and officers were "in the process" of giving the order to fire when the Iranians abruptly turned away, the U.S. officials said.

The events took place at the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping choke-point that Iran has repeatedly threatened to block by sinking tankers in retaliation for any attack on Iran. See also a BBC report on the incident, which includes a useful map for those unfamiliar with the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

We at ThreatsWatch have dismissed the Iranian threat to choke oil shipments by blocking the Strait as well as its stated aims to stop its own exports. The Iranian 'Oil Weapon' remains not the act of cutting off their own economic life blood, but rather the results that such threats have on oil prices to their windfall benefit.

As with other Iranian threats and actions that have caused the world oil markets to nervously drive up the price of crude, this weekend's action also comes as oil prices fell from a November 2007 average of $92.67 to just $88.21 for December. [Source: OILNERGY: posted oil price (WTI)]

For background and our detailed analysis on the real Iranian Oil Weapon (price manipulation), please see:

PrincipalAnalysis: Iran’s Oil Weapon - Fielded and Wielded

The Iranian Oil Weapon is not the act of blocking the Strait of Hormuz nor the removal of Iranian oil from world markets, which is economic suicide for an immensely struggling Iranian economy. The Iranian Oil Weapon is the threat of this, manifest in actions such as the naval harassment this weekend, and the clear economic advantage the resulting tensions provide via increased market price for exported crude oil and natural gas.

4 Comments

http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3147217.ece

Times Online is saying this may have been an aborted suicide attack.

Nothing substantial in the Times Online article to lead to this thinking.

Bunk. But the more this is believed, the more the Iranian regime benefits from increased windfall via spiked oil prices....the only income source keeping Iran afloat while it invests huge sums in its nuclear endeavors rather than in its people or other potentially productive and self-sustaining segments of economic development.

Very interesting, Steve, I hadn't thought about the oil price angle.

It might also just be that one hand in Iran doesn't know what the other is doing, and this was somewhat of a "rogue" operation. Check out today's StrategyPage article No One Is In Charge In Iran

What do you think?

Also, Steve, do you think that the NIE emboldened the Iranians? That now they think that they can get away with more and GWB has been weakened and won't respond?

On the surface, one would think not. The NIE gave them the cover they needed to restart their nuclear weapons program, and the last thing they need is to start something that might disrupt it.

Again, I'd be interested in your thoughts.