Our October Surprise: U.S. Moving Submersibles to Persian Gulf to Oppose Iran

July 12, 2012

Since the days of the Romans, when things look bad for the emperor, one sure way to get the troops and people jazzed up, declare war. Distract the people, get them involved. Works every time.

But do you trust the emperor to lead our troops … Nope. Not I. Maybe we should just wait on the next guy. Carter tried this, failed miserably, remember the pictures of our burning “rescue helicopters” in the desert? Botched mission. No recovery for Carter.

Now Obama is playing the war drums.

The L.A. Times reports:

The Navy is rushing dozens of unmanned underwater craft to the Persian Gulf to help detect and destroy mines in a major military buildup aimed at preventing Iran from closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the event of a crisis, U.S. officials said.

The tiny SeaFox submersibles each carry an underwater television camera, homing sonar and an explosive charge. The Navy bought them in May after an urgent request by Marine Gen. James Mattis, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East.

Each submersible is about 4 feet long and weighs less than 100 pounds. The craft are intended to boost U.S. military capabilities as negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program appear to have stalled. Three rounds of talks since April between Iran and the five countries in the United Nations Security Council plus Germany have made little progress.

Some U.S. officials are wary that Iran may respond to tightening sanctions on its banking and energy sectors, including a European Union oil embargo, by launching or sponsoring attacks on oil tankers or platforms in the Persian Gulf. Some officials in Tehran have threatened to close the narrow waterway, a choke point for a fifth of the oil traded worldwide.

The first of the SeaFox submersibles arrived in the Gulf in recent weeks, officials said, along with four MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopters and four minesweeping ships, part of a larger buildup of U.S. naval, air and ground forces in the region aimed at Iran.

The U.S. already has sent two aircraft carriers and a squadron of F-22 fighters to the Persian Gulf, and is keeping two U.S. army brigades in Kuwait. Though much of the buildup has been publicly acknowledged by the Pentagon, the deployment of the submersibles has not been publicly disclosed, apparently to avoid alerting Iran.

The SeaFox is small enough to be deployed from helicopters and even small rubber boats, but it also can be dropped off the back of a minesweeper. It is controlled by a fiber optic cable and sends live video back to a camera operator.

It can be used against floating or drifting mines, which Iran has used in the past. It operates up to 300 meters deep, and moves at speeds of up to six knots. But the $100,000 weapon is on a what amounts to a suicide mission. The “built-in, large caliber shaped charge” it carries destroys the mine but also the vehicle itself.

Distant war drums are now playing. You gonna be fooled by our failed policy of containment? Everybody knows our emperor lies, about most everything. So does Iran. Which is how we got here.

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Iran ‘definitely’ closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo

January 24, 2012

Iranian Navy boats take part in maneuvers during the "Velayat-90" navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran (AFP Photo / EBRAHIM NOROOZI)

Tensions in the Gulf could reach a breaking point as a senior Iranian official said Iran would “definitely” close the Strait of Hormuz if an EU oil embargo disrupted the export of crude oil.

Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament’s foreign affairs and national security committee, issued the warning in respone to a decision by the European Union on Monday  to impose an oil embargo on Iran over the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

“The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

However, with Washington’s decision to deploy a second carrier strike group in the Gulf, the EU’s attempt to pressure Iran economically could greatly increase the likelihood of all-out war in the region.

The Strait of Hormuz is the vital link between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

It is also one of the most strategic chokepoints in the world when it comes to oil transit.


EU to Embargo Iranian Crude as Tension Mounts

January 23, 2012

USN Carrier Lincoln enters the Straits of Hormus … Joins the USN Carrier USS Carl Vinson that is still there.

Has sanctions ever worked before?

European Union governments agreed on Monday to an immediate ban on all new contracts to import, buy or transport Iranian crude oil, a move to put pressure on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme by shutting off its main source of foreign income.

However, to protect Europe’s economy as it battles to overcome a debt crisis, the governments agreed to phase in the embargo, giving countries with existing contracts with Iran until July 1, 2012 to end those deals.

At a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, EU governments also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank and to ban all trade in diamonds, gold and other precious metals with the bank and other public bodies.

Western powers hope the far stricter sanctions net, which brings the EU more closely into line with U.S. policy, will force Iran to scale back or halt its nuclear work, which Europe and the United States believe is aimed at developing weapons. Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for peaceful purposes.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she wanted financial sanctions to persuade Tehran to return to negotiations with the West, which she represents in talks with Iran. “I want the pressure of these sanctions to result in negotiations,” she told reporters before the ministers met.


Thousands of US troops deploying to Israel

January 6, 2012

Without much media attention, thousands of American troops are being deployed to Israel, and Iranian officials believe that this is the latest and most blatant warning that the US will soon be attacking Tehran.

Tensions between nations have been high in recent months and have only worsened in the weeks since early December when Iran hijacked and recovered an American drone aircraft. Many have speculated that a back-and-forth between the two countries will soon escalate Iran and the US into an all-out war, and that event might occur sooner than thought.

Under the Austere Challenge 12 drill scheduled for an undisclosed time during the next few weeks, the Israeli military will together with America host the largest-ever joint missile drill by the two countries. Following the installation of American troops near Iran’s neighboring Strait of Hormuz and the reinforcing of nearby nations with US weapons, Tehran authorities are considering this not a test but the start of something much bigger.

In the testing, America’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile system will be operating alongside its ship-based Aegis system and Israel’s own program to work with Arrow, Patriot and Iron Drone missiles.

Israeli military officials say that the testing was planned before recent episodes involving the US and Iran. Of concern, however, is how the drill will require the deployment of thousands of American troops into Israel. The Jerusalem Post quotes US Commander Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc as saying the drill is not just an “exercise” but also a “deployment” that will involve “several thousand American soldiers” heading to Israel. Additionally, new command posts will be established by American forces in Israel and that country’s own IDF army will begin working from a base in Germany.

In September, the US European Command established a radar system in Israel.


Iran To Test-fire Missiles In Key Tanker Oil Waterway

December 31, 2011

Jimmy Carter redux … While Obama is not doing his job.

Tehran said it will test-fire missiles in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, a move likely to stoke tensions with Washington already running high over Iran’s threats to close the strategic oil waterway if sanctions are enforced.

“Shorter- and longer-range, ground-to-sea, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles will be tested on Saturday,” the ISNA news agency quoted Iran’s navy spokesman, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, as saying on Friday.

Iran, which has been carrying out war games in the Strait of Hormuz over the past week, has said that “not a drop of oil” would pass through the strait if Western governments follow through with planned additional sanctions over its nuclear programme.

The US State Department said on Thursday that Iran’s threat to close the waterway, through which more than a third of the world’s tanker-borne oil passes, exhibited “irrational behavior” and “will not be tolerated.”


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