IRAN CRISIS - U.S. and IRAN ESCALATING
Pentagon plans Iran crisis simulation involving uop U.S. officials
"So far, the U.S. Army and Marine
Corps have held simulations that
MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 29 April. The
U.N. Security Council Iran debate is really just posturing, for so much
these days of international affairs is public relations, positioning
and timing. The Americans have known from the start that two of the
five key veto-wielding members of the Security Council, Russia and
China, are not going to play it their way, certainly not with Chapter 7
'enforcement' provisions. All the while the military forces are
preparing throughout the region, and indeed throughout the world.
Meanwhile, politically in the U.S. itself, powerful voices are speaking
up unusually harshly against the imperial militant intentions of the
Bush/Cheney Neocon/Evangelical Administration vis-a-vis Iran and
beyond. The 'Revolt of the Generals' out-front target Rumsfeld wasn't
really payback for the past, it was and is growing apprehension about
the future. Bush 'The Decider' is much more boxed in than he has ever
been, the Americans far weaker geostrategically and geopolitically than
they are willing to admit (not only to others but to themselves).
Impending defeat in the mid-term election and a possible serious
impeachment attempt are looming large now in everyone's calculations.
This is the context in which the war clock is ticking closer to
midnight than in a long time and more ominously than since the
face-offs between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that almost destroyed
envisioned a conflict with Iran. On
June 2, the Pentagon plans to
detonate 700 tons of explosives in the
Nevada desert in an effort to
determine the effectiveness of
bunker-busting bombs against hardened
targets in Iran and North Korea. Officials said the forthcoming Pentagon
exercise on Iran, would test the responses of groups of 15 to 20 people."
Pentagon plans Iran crisis simulation involving
WASHINGTON — The United States has scheduled an exercise that would
include the use of military options against Iran and involve the U.S.
top U.S. political officials
The Pentagon plans to conduct an
exercise designed to simulate an Iranian nuclear crisis and a U.S.
response. The exercise is scheduled for July 18 and will include senior
officials as well as members of Congress.
"We may draw from something that
happened in real life or could happen in real life to make it as
current or realistic as possible," David Thomas, spokesman for the
Pentagon's National Defense University, said on April 19.
The National Defense University
has been assigned to develop the exercise. The university includes the
National Strategic Gaming Center, which introduces military commanders,
officials and other representatives.
In October 2005, the university
released a study on Iran's nuclear program. The 104-page report did not
call for a U.S. preventive strike, but urged Washington to bolster the
capability of a rapid military response.
"Effective deterrence requires a
credible range of military options and assured capabilities to respond
to attack," stated the report, "Reassessing the Implications of a
"The ability of the United
States to react quickly and effectively would depend on it maintaining
a military presence in the region, even though such presence may not be
welcomed in some quarters," the report stated.
The Bush administration has held
a series of discussions regarding U.S. options to prevent Iran from
acquiring nuclear weapons. President Bush said the United States has
focused on diplomatic measures, but would not rule out a military
strike to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program.
So far, the U.S. Army and Marine
Corps have held simulations that envisioned a conflict with Iran. On
June 2, the Pentagon plans to detonate 700 tons of explosives in the
Nevada desert in an effort to determine the effectiveness of
bunker-busting bombs against hardened targets in Iran and North Korea.
Officials said the forthcoming Pentagon exercise on Iran, would test the responses of groups of 15 to 20 people.
The National Defense University also plans a simulation on China in May.
In 2002, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld included members of Congress in simulations and
exercises in an effort to facilitate discussions on policy options. The
exercises have usually lasted a day and do not include simulated
"We develop scenarios based on
things that are fairly current in the real world, but the schedule is
set way in advance," Thomas said. "The intent is to teach, to educate,
the complexity of decisions in formulating policy."
Think tank: U.S. could easily stop Iran from closing Strait of Hormuz
WASHINGTON — Iran lacks the capability to block the world's leading
shipping route for crude oil exports, according to a new report by a
Washington think tank.
The Center for Strategic and
International Studies said the Iranian navy, including the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps, has failed to procure platforms or weapons
required to block the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for 60 percent
of the world's oil trade. In a report, the Washington-based center said
the United States could block any Iranian attempt to attack Gulf
shipping, particularly from the sea.
"Iran could not close the Strait
of Hormuz, or halt tanker traffic, and its submarines and much of its
IRGC forces would probably be destroyed in a matter of days if they
become operational," the report said.
The assertion undermined an
Iranian warning to threaten the global oil trade if attacked by the
United States. The warning was issued during the Holy Prophet exercise
in the Gulf, which took place from March 31 to April 6.
Authored by Anthony Cordesman
and Khalid Al-Rodhan, the report said Iran could seek to disrupt Gulf
oil traffic from land-based facilities. The report, "Iranian Nuclear
Weapons? The Options if Diplomacy Fails," envisioned Iranian missile
strikes on oil facilities in Iraq and the southern Gulf region in
response to a U.S. air strike.
"Even sporadic random strikes would create a high risk premium and potential panic in oil markets," the report said.
Still, the report said, the
Iranian navy remains highly vulnerable and would be quickly overwhelmed
by a U.S. attack. The navy has deployed such assets as the Raad
anti-ship missile, with a range of up to 100 kilometers and deployed
near the Strait of Hormuz.
The navy also operates three
"relatively effective" Kilo-class submarines procured from Russia, the
report said. The underwater platforms have been equipped with mines as
well as long-range wire-guided torpedoes.
The report said the IRGC naval
branch operates 10 Hudong missile patrol boats with sea-skimming
anti-ship missiles. The force also deploys C-14 high-speed catamarans
and 40 Bohammar Marine patrol boats.
"Many are so small they are
difficult to detect with ship-borne radars," the report said. "They can
conduct suicide attacks, or release floating mines covertly in shipping
lanes or near key facilities."
The report also dismissed the
effectiveness of Iran's air defense umbrella. Cordesman and Al Rodhan
said Iran's arsenal of aging Western- or Russian-origin surface-to-air
missile batteries could be quickly neutralized by U.S. countermeasures.
"All of its major systems are
based on technology that is now more than 35 years old, and all are
vulnerable to U.S. use of active and passive countermeasures," the
report said. "Iran's air defense forces are too widely spaced to
provide more than limited air defense for key bases and facilities, and
many lack the missile launcher strength to be fully effective."
Saudis fear Iran is after their oil, not Israel
Saudi Arabia has been making reassuring statements in public. But
privately, Saudi leaders are skirting the edge of panic as they watch
Iran's nuclear weapons program unfold.
Western intelligence sources
said the kingdom fears it will be the first target of any Teheran
retaliation against a U.S. strike on its nuclear facilities. The
sources said the Saudi leaders believe Iran has placed Saudi Arabia at
the top of the list of targets in an effort to deter any U.S. strike.
"The Saudis provide the
difference between a stable and unstable energy market," one Western
intelligence source said. "One Iranian missile toward a major Saudi oil
facility and the market collapses."
The Saudis have not been assuaged by Iran's threats against Israel.
Indeed, Saudi leaders believe
that Iran and Israel have been cooperating as part of an effort to
establish Shi'ite dominance over Sunnis in the Middle East.
Here is the Saudi scenario: Iran
takes over southern Iraq through its Shi'ite quislings and becomes
owner of the huge oil reserves in the area. That would place Iran along
the borders of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
At that point, Iran would send
thousands of Arabic-speaking agents into Saudi Arabia's eastern
province, where the kingdom's considerable Shi'ite minority live. These
agents would be in striking distance of Saudi oil wells and refinery.
The Saudis have dismissed the prospect of an Iranian attack on Israel.
They assess that such a strike —
whether nuclear or conventional — would kill many more Palestinians
than Israelis. Israel has already protected much of its population
through a missile defense system and bunkers. That leaves the
Palestinians vulnerable — something Teheran wants to avoid.
"There's only one Iranian target
seen by the Saudis and that's themselves," the source said. "The royal
family believes that nobody would raise a finger to help the Saudis.
There's too much oil to be divided."
The only ally the Saudis trust
is Pakistan. Islamabad has been given billions of dollars by the Saudi
kingdom, money that has certainly financed Pakistan's nuclear weapons
program. Pakistan has similar fears of a nuclear Iran, and particularly
one that would threaten oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
The sources expect Pakistan and
Saudi Arabia to accelerate nuclear and missile cooperation over the
next year. Another possible ally could be Russia, which has also
offered to provide a response to an Iranian nuclear threat.
Cash moving out of Iran as U.S. hints at actions by extra-UN alliance
The international crisis over Iran’s nuclear program has resulted in
large amounts of money being sent out of the country as well as a sharp
decline in the number of tourists traveling to Iran, U.S. officials
Wealthy Iranians have been
making large cash deposits in Swiss banks and in other secure locations
in Europe because of fears that the U.S. or Israel will launch military
strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Additionally, more than 60 percent of travel reservations have been cancelled in recent months.
Nicholas Burns, undersecretary
of state for political affairs, told reporters that the U.S. is already
taking steps to form a coalition outside the United Nations to impose
sanctions on Iran for its defiance of the world body.
“If the Security Council cannot
act over a reasonable period of time, then there will be an opportunity
for groups of countries to organize themselves together for the purpose
of isolating the Iranians diplomatically and economically,” Burns said.
“It's not beyond the realm of the possible that at some point in the
future a group of countries could get together, if the Security Council
is not able to act, to take collective economic action or collective
action on sanctions.”
The action would be designed to
circumvent “those that might prevent the Security Council from acting
effectively,” such as Russia and China, he said.
In Washington, Robert Joseph,
undersecretary of state for arms control, said the Iranians have “both
feet on the accelerator” of their nuclear weapons program.
“They're moving very quickly to establish new realities on the ground associated with their nuclear program,” he said.
Iran claims it has converted enough uranium for 110 tons of uranium hexafluoride as feedstock for centrifuges.
“This is enough material for more than 10 weapons,” Joseph said.
Joseph said the most disturbing
aspect of the Iranian nuclear program is the announcement by Teheran
that they are operating a cascade of 164 centrifuges. “I'm a political
scientist, not a nuclear physicist, but every nuclear physicist that I
have talked to in the past has always suggested that 164 is a key
number, because once you're able to operate over a sustained period of
time 164 centrifuges in cascade, and feed into that this material, this
UF6 that I talked about, you're well on your way to an industrial-scale
capability in terms of the production of enriched uranium,” he said.
Iran wants 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz by the end of the year, enough to produce one nuclear weapon a year, he said.
Iran also claims it is
developing the P-2 design centrifuge that is four times more effective
at enrichment than the P-1, Joseph said.
“This is likely the greatest strategic threat that we face as a nation and that faces the international community,” Joseph said.
“A nuclear-armed Iran is
something that we simply cannot tolerate, and this is a sense that is
shared very widely by most states. A nuclear-armed Iran would
represent, I think, a direct threat, not only to us and not only to the
countries in the region, but to the entire nuclear nonproliferation
regime. It would represent a threat to stability in the region, because
a nuclear-armed Iran, I believe, would be emboldened to take even more
aggressive actions through the use of terrorism and other means.”
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week that he has little
confidence in the ability of U.S. intelligence agencies to gauge Iran’s
covert nuclear program.
Rumsfeld's vote of no confidence on Iran intelligence
Asked by radio talk show host
Laura Ingraham if he has confidence in U.S. estimates that Iran is five
to 10 years from having nuclear weapons, Rumsfeld replied: “No. I’m not
“I think it's a very difficult
target for our intelligence community,” he said. “They work hard at it
and they're fine people, but it's a difficult thing to do. Our
visibility into their circumstance is imperfect.”
Rumsfeld also said that the
question of how long it will take the Iranians to develop a nuclear
bomb indigenously without foreign assistance, “you’d get one answer.”
“If you said what if they were
able to get ballistic missiles from North Korea, as they have, and what
if they were able to acquire fissile material from somebody? How long
would it take? I think you'd get a somewhat different answer,” he said.
Rumsfeld has been a skeptic on
U.S. intelligence since he headed a special commission in 1998 that
criticized U.S. intelligence for its failures to accurately gauge
foreign missile developments.
A U.S. intelligence estimate
from 1996 stated that no nation outside of the declared nuclear powers
would be capable of hitting the United States with a long-range missile
for 15 years.
In August 1998, shortly after
Rumsfeld’s missile commission issued its report, North Korea fired a
long-range Taepodong missile that caught U.S. intelligence agencies by
surprise and contradicted the intelligence estimate.
is stepping up defense-related support to Iran at a time when the
United States is seeking to pressure Teheran into giving up its nuclear
Russia coming through with strategic assistance in Iran's time of need
Moscow has agreed to send
advanced Tor-M1 air defense missiles to Teheran. The missiles could be
used by the Iranians to counter any U.S. and allied military action
against their nuclear sites.
Moscow also has agreed to
upgrade Iran’s two Kilo-class submarines. The submarines will be
equipped with the new SS-N-27 anti-ship missiles.
Meanwhile, Iran is building up
its naval forces in the Caspian Sea with additional cruisers and
frigates, according to Iranian press reports.
Iranian ground forces are also building up along the Caspian coast from Anzali to the east.
U.S. to upgrade aging missile defense systems with advanced tech
— The United States plans to modernize the Patriot PAC-2 air and
missile defense system that is used by U.S. allies around the world.
The U.S. Army has awarded
Raytheon a $47-million contract to upgrade PAC-2 systems to GEM+
configuration. GEM, or Guided Enhanced Missile, seeks to incorporate
advanced technology used in PAC-3 in the PAC-2 systems, which reflect
So far, the Defense Department
has approved 11 orders relating to the GEM+ project. The orders have
reached $256 million since 2000.
"This modernization program
plays a vital role in providing the U.S. Army the capability to defeat
modern threats," Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems Vice President
Rick Yuse said.
Raytheon has presented GEM+ as
an upgrade that would allow the Army to transform its missile inventory
into PAC-3 configuration capability.
Executives said capability close to that of PAC-3 could be achieved for a fraction of the cost of a new system.
Several Middle East countries
have been briefed on the GEM+ upgrade, including Israel, Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia, all of which deploy the PAC-2.
Industry sources Israel rejected the GEM+ upgrade as insufficient.
On April 13, Lockheed Martin was
awarded a $379.7-million Pentagon contract for the PAC-3. Under the
award, Lockheed Martin would supply interceptors, launchers and spares
for the PAC-3.
28 April 2006, Source World Tribune.com