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Are attacks on Iran imminent?

 

It's worth reading to the end:

UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears

 

 

British officials consider contingency options to back up a possible US action as fears mount over Tehran's capability

 

 

 

Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

 

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

 

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

 

They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

 

The Guardian has spoken to a number of Whitehall and defence officials over recent weeks who said Iran was once again becoming the focus of diplomatic concern after the revolution in Libya.

 

They made clear that Barack Obama, has no wish to embark on a new and provocative military venture before next November's presidential election.

 

But they warned the calculations could change because of mounting anxiety over intelligence gathered by western agencies, and the more belligerent posture that Iran appears to have been taking.

 

Hawks in the US are likely to seize on next week's report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is expected to provide fresh evidence of a possible nuclear weapons programme in Iran.

 

The Guardian has been told that the IAEA's bulletin could be "a game changer" which will provide unprecedented details of the research and experiments being undertaken by the regime.

 

One senior Whitehall official said Iran had proved "surprisingly resilient" in the face of sanctions, and sophisticated attempts by the west to cripple its nuclear enrichment programme had been less successful than first thought.

 

He said Iran appeared to be "newly aggressive, and we are not quite sure why", citing three recent assassination plots on foreign soil that the intelligence agencies say were coordinated by elements in Tehran.

 

In addition to that, officials now believe Iran has restored all the capability it lost in a sophisticated cyber-attack last year.The Stuxnet computer worm, thought to have been engineered by the Americans and Israelis, sabotaged many of the centrifuges the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

 

Up to half of Iran's centrifuges were disabled by Stuxnet or were thought too unreliable to work, but diplomats believe this capability has now been recovered, and the IAEA believes it may even be increasing.

 

Ministers have also been told that the Iranians have been moving some more efficient centrifuges into the heavily-fortified military base dug beneath a mountain near the city of Qom.

 

The concern is that the centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium for use in weapons, are now so well protected within the site that missile strikes may not be able to reach them. The senior Whitehall source said the Iranians appeared to be shielding "material and capability" inside the base.

 

Another Whitehall official, with knowledge of Britain's military planning, said that within the next 12 months Iran may have hidden all the material it needs to continue a covert weapons programme inside fortified bunkers. He said this had necessitated the UK's planning being taken to a new level.

 

"Beyond [12 months], we couldn't be sure our missiles could reach them," the source said. "So the window is closing, and the UK needs to do some sensible forward planning. The US could do this on their own but they won't.

 

"So we need to anticipate being asked to contribute. We had thought this would wait until after the US election next year, but now we are not so sure.

 

"President Obama has a big decision to make in the coming months because he won't want to do anything just before an election."

 

Another source added there was "no acceleration towards military action by the US, but that could change". Next spring could be a key decision-making period, the source said. The MoD has a specific team considering the military options against Iran.

 

The Guardian has been told that planners expect any campaign to be predominantly waged from the air, with some naval involvement, using missiles such as the Tomahawks, which have a range of 800 miles (1,287 km). There are no plans for a ground invasion, but "a small number of special forces" may be needed on the ground, too.

 

The RAF could also provide air-to-air refuelling and some surveillance capability, should they be required. British officials say any assistance would be cosmetic: the US could act on its own but would prefer not to.

 

An MoD spokesman said: "The British government believes that a dual track strategy of pressure and engagement is the best approach to address the threat from Iran's nuclear programme and avoid regional conflict. We want a negotiated solution – but all options should be kept on the table."

 

The MoD says there are no hard and fast blueprints for conflict but insiders concede that preparations there and at the Foreign Office have been under way for some time.

 

One official said: "I think that it is fair to say that the MoD is constantly making plans for all manner of international situations. Some areas are of more concern than others. "It is not beyond the realms of possibility that people at the MoD are thinking about what we might do should something happen on Iran. It is quite likely that there will be people in the building who have thought about what we would do if commanders came to us and asked us if we could support the US. The context for that is straightforward contingency planning."

 

Washington has been warned by Israel against leaving any military action until it is too late.

 

Western intelligence agencies say Israel will demand that the US act if it believes its own military cannot launch successful attacks to stall Iran's nuclear programme. A source said the "Israelis want to believe that they can take this stuff out", and will continue to agitate for military action if Iran continues to play hide and seek.

 

It is estimated that Iran, which has consistently said it is interested only in developing a civilian nuclear energy programme, already has enough enriched uranium for between two and four nuclear weapons.

 

Experts believe it could be another two years before Tehran has a ballistic missile delivery system.

 

British officials admit to being perplexed by what they regard as Iran's new aggressiveness, saying that they have been shown convincing evidence that Iran was behind the murder of a Saudi diplomat in Karachi in May, as well as the audacious plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, which was uncovered last month.

 

"There is a clear dotted line from Tehran to the plot in Washington," said one.

 

Earlier this year, the IAEA reported that it had evidence Tehran had conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that could only be used for setting off a nuclear device.

 

It also said it was "increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organisations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."

 

Last year, the UN security council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran to try to deter Tehran from pursuing any nuclear ambitions.

 

At the weekend, the New York Times reported that the US was looking to build up its military presence in the region, with one eye on Iran.

 

According to the paper, the US is considering sending more naval warships to the area, and is seeking to expand military ties with the six countries in the Gulf Co-operation Council: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/02/uk-military-iran-attack-nuclear

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They seem imminent, with the word "imminent" referring to a pretty vague space of time. I don't think Iran will be attacked this week, for example, but by the end of the year? Yeah, possibly.

 

Stuff like this is cat & mouse though. When do you strike at Iran? With what happenned with Iraq, with the UK being absolutely convinced that they had WMD, and those WMD never being found... should we be convinced that Iran has their own WMD then what will the worldwide reaction be if e move to strike?

 

Sounds horrible, but right now the UK/USA word is no more revered or trusted than Iran's.

 

Me personally, you cannot give Ahmudinejad (sp, I know I know :lol) the benefit of the doubt.

 

Cheers!

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Iran is way closer to a liberal revolution than Iraq ever was, if Europe or America invaded right now, it would be completely, unbelievably stupid, and would turn what will be the non-Arabian Middle East's biggest secular democracy in a few years into the world's largest terrorist training camp. Bombing runs on missile factories and silos by NATO (not specific national forces) would be fine, but I have enough faith in the world's governments to be sure that an actual Iraq style invasion isn't even being considered.
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Yeah, some sort of co-ordinated, specific bombing campaign is what is being hinted at here I think (that line about America running the show but not out front on it's own hinted at that as well). Maybe Libya has given them the taste for it. This imminent IAEA report seems to be what's causing the news stories of the last couple of days. If some sort of protest movement took to the streets on a large scale the crack-down would be brutal wouldn't it?
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What worries me is that Iran may or may not have the bomb, but they've got more than enough material for plenty of dirty bombs... just imagine they managed to smuggle that shit to supporters of the regime overseas and then we attack Iran... bad news.
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In a really selfish way "we" will be fine, because if Iran does decide to go all death or glory, target number one will be Tel Aviv, Israel (not Jerusalem, because it's a Muslim holy site), and, as soon as that happened, China would throw their hands up and say "Pfft, you guys are on your own now", and America, the British Commonwealth, the European Union and possibly even Russia due to the pretty tight links between Israel and Russia these days will begin bombing Iran back to the days of the Persian Empire within about three minutes.

 

As individuals, we don't have too much to fear from Iran, even if they did have a nuke.

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That report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran mentioned in the OP has been published here:

 

http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_Iran_8Nov2011.pdf

 

BBC's summary:

 

UN nuclear agency IAEA: Iran 'studying nuclear weapons'

 

 

The UN's nuclear watchdog says it has information indicating Iran has carried out tests "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device".

 

In its latest report on Iran, the IAEA says the research includes computer models that could only be used to develop a nuclear bomb trigger.

 

Correspondents say this is the International Atomic Energy Agency's toughest report on Iran to date.

 

Tehran condemned the findings as politically motivated.

 

"This report is unbalanced, unprofessional and prepared with political motivation and under political pressure by mostly the United States," said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA.

 

It was "a repetition of old claims which were proven baseless by Iran in a precise 117-page response, " he added.

 

Iran says its nuclear programme is solely to generate civilian power.

 

The BBC's Bethany Bell, in Vienna, has examined the IAEA's latest quarterly report on Iran's nuclear programme.

 

She says the report gives detailed information - some of it new - suggesting that Iran conducted computer modelling of a kind that would only be relevant to a nuclear weapon.

 

The report, published on the Institute for Science and International Security website, notes that some of this research, conducted in 2008-09, is of "particular concern", our correspondent says.

 

"The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency," the report says.

 

'Credible evidence'

 

The report highlights:

 

  • Work on fast-acting detonators that have "possible application in a nuclear explosive device, and... limited civilian and conventional military applications".
     
  • Tests of the detonators consistent with simulating the explosion of a nuclear device
     
  • "The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network."
     
  • "Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components."

 

 

 

The report continues: "The information indicates that prior to the end of 2003 the above activities took place under a structured programme. There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing."

 

The report stops short, our correspondent adds, of saying explicitly that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb.

 

It says the information is "credible", and comes from some of the IAEA's 35 member states, from its own research and from Iran itself.

 

The report urges Iran "to engage substantively with the agency without delay for the purpose of providing clarifications."

 

'No serious proof'

 

Ahead of the report's release, there had been speculation in Israeli media about potential strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

 

A senior US official said Washington would look at applying more pressure on Iran if it did not supply answers to the questions raised in the report, Reuters news agency said.Why the White House is not on the war path

 

"That could include additional sanctions by the United States. It could also include steps that we take together with other nations," the unnamed official said.

 

The UN Security Council has already passed four rounds of sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment. Highly-enriched uranium can be processed into nuclear weapons.

 

China and Russia are unlikely to support further sanctions against Iran, the BBC's Kim Ghattas says in Washington.

 

Russia said the IAEA report had caused rising tension and more time was needed to determine whether it contained new, reliable evidence of a military element to Iran's nuclear programme.

 

Experts say Iran is at least one year away, perhaps several, from being able to produce a nuclear bomb. Some believe Iran's leadership wants to be in a position to able to produce such a weapon on short notice.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15643460

 

There's more analysis and links and stuff from there as well.

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  • 3 weeks later...
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned Iran of "serious consequences" after protesters stormed the British embassy and a UK compound in Tehran.

 

Offices were ransacked and flags burned in the attacks, which followed a demonstration against sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme.

 

Mr Cameron described the attacks as "outrageous and indefensible".

 

The US and EU also condemned the attacks. Iran's foreign ministry expressed "regret" for the incidents.

 

The demonstrations followed a vote in Iran's parliament to reduce diplomatic ties with Britain in retaliation for imposing further sanctions.

 

'Dangerous situation'

 

Mr Cameron said the failure of the Iranian government to defend British staff and property was "a disgrace".

 

He said all British staff and their dependents had been accounted for and he praised Britain's ambassador to Iran, Dominick Chilcott, for handling a "dangerous situation with calm and professionalism".

 

"The Iranian government must recognise that there will be serious consequences for failing to protect our staff. We will consider what these measures should be in the coming days," he added.

 

US President Barack Obama said he was "deeply disturbed" by the attack.

 

"That kind of behaviour is not acceptable, and I strongly urge the Iranian government to hold those who are responsible to task," he said.

 

 

Germany, France and the EU also condemned the attack.

 

Hundreds of protesters - whom Iran described as "students" - had massed outside the embassy compound before scaling the walls and the gates.

 

A car was set alight, windows were broken, offices wrecked and paintings and other items dragged outside and dumped.

 

The students chanted "the embassy of Britain should be taken over" and "death to England".

 

Another UK diplomatic compound in northern Tehran, known locally as Qolhak Garden, was also overrun and damaged.

 

The occupations went on for several hours. By nightfall riot police had restored order and evicted the protesters.

 

The Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed "regret for certain unacceptable behaviour by a small number of protesters in spite of efforts by the police".

 

"The relevant authorities have been asked to take the necessary measures and look into this issue immediately," it said.

 

Correspondents say the protests were organised by pro-government groups at universities and Islamic seminaries. The demonstrations also marked the anniversary of the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, which many Iranians have blamed on the UK. British denies any involvement.

 

Diplomatic row

 

President Obama: "This is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously"

Last week the US, UK and Canada announced new measures targeting Iran over its controversial nuclear plans.

 

That followed a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that suggested Iran was working towards acquiring a nuclear weapon.

 

It said Iran had carried out tests "relevant to the development of a nuclear device".

 

For its part, the UK Treasury imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, accusing them of facilitating the country's nuclear programme.

 

On Sunday, Iran's parliament voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic relations with the UK in response to the British action.

 

Iranian radio reported that some MPs had chanted "Death to Britain" during the vote, which was approved by 87% of MPs.

 

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

BBC

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15955501

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Britain's seems to be raining it diplomatic relations with Iran because of the embassy attack.

 

Britain is withdrawing some diplomats from Iran following the attack on its embassy in the capital, Tehran, on Tuesday, diplomatic sources say.

 

The Foreign Office said "some staff" were leaving "for their own safety", but gave no further details of the numbers involved.

 

Norway has said it has closed its embassy, citing security concerns.

 

Tuesday's attack followed Britain's decision to impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

 

It led to Iran's parliament voting to reduce diplomatic relations with the UK.

 

- BBC News

 

As well as, as the article says, Norway leaving the country, Germany is apparently currently in talks with Iran concerning the future of the German embassy.

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The UK has expelled all Iranian diplomats now and shut down the Iranian embassy:

 

UK to expel all Iranian diplomats over embassy attack

 

 

The UK is to expel all Iranian diplomats following the storming of its embassy in Tehran, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced.

 

He said he had ordered the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London.

 

Tuesday's attack by hundreds of protesters followed Britain's decision to impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

 

The sanctions led to Iran's parliament reducing diplomatic ties with the UK.

 

Mr Hague said he was demanding the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London, with all its staff to leave the UK within 48 hours.

 

"If any country makes it impossible for us to operate on their soil they cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here," Mr Hague told MPs.

 

He said there had been "some degree of regime consent" in the attacks on the embassy and on another UK diplomatic compound in Tehran.

 

He said all UK diplomatic staff in Tehran had been evacuated and the embassy closed.

 

Mr Hague said relations between the UK and Iran were now at their lowest level, but the UK was not severing relations with Tehran entirely.

BBC

 

The rest of the article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15966628

 

The key bit of the speech in the commons:

 

[video=youtube;GPcjtkkMVqA]

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  • 1 month later...

The Guardian analysis on recent developments:

 

The Iranian oil embargo: does this mean war?

 

The EU has decided on sanctions that Tehran has long said would represent a declaration of war. What will follow?

 

The decision to impose an EU oil embargo on Iran, agreed on Monday by European foreign ministers, sets a potential bomb ticking, timed to detonate on 1 July.

 

On that day, according to the package of measures on the table in Brussels, Europe will stop importing oil from Iran, about a fifth of the country's total exports. At about the same time, US sanctions targeted at the global financing of Iran's oil trade will also kick in. Iran could still export some of its oil to Asia, but at big discounts.

 

Unlike previous sanctions on Iran, the oil embargo would hit almost all citizens and represent a threat to the regime. Tehran has long said such actions would represent a declaration of war, and there are legal experts in the west who agree.

 

The threat of an immediate clash in the Gulf appeared to recede over the weekend when the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier and its task force, including the British frigate HMS Argyll and a French warship, travelled through the strait of Hormuz without incident. This was despite warnings earlier this month from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that it would oppose the return of a US carrier to the region.

 

But tensions are almost certain to build again as the effective date of the oil sanctions approaches. The US has already begun beefing up its military presence in the region, and the IRGC is planning new naval war games next month. Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi told the Fars news agency earlier this month that the upcoming exercises, codenamed "the Great Messenger", would be different from previous war games, without going into detail.

 

Iran's oil supply

 

The strait of Hormuz is the kink in the hose of the Gulf's oil supply to the world. A small amount of pressure can have a disproportionate effect, sending world crude prices soaring and starving the world's oil-dependent economies.

 

At its narrowest point, between the Oman peninsula and the Iranian islands off Bandar Abbas, the strait is 20 miles wide, but the channels down which more than a third of the world's ocean-borne oil flows – 17m barrels – are even more tenuous. The tanker lanes going in each direction are just 2 miles wide in parts, through the deep water off Oman and then again, further west, inside Iranian territorial waters.

 

This is where oil tankers are most vulnerable to an Iranian attempt to turn off the global petrol pump. It was enough for an Iranian official to simply raise the prospect of closing the strait, in retaliation for the threat of sanctions, for the world price of crude to rise to $115 (£74) a barrel. Maintained over the long term, that is costly enough to strangle any hint of a global economic recovery.

 

That is what makes Iranian naval action in the Gulf such a potent weapon. But it is a decidedly double-edged one, potentially more lethal to Iran than its adversaries. For, while Saudi Arabia can bypass the strait by pipeline, all of Iran's oil terminals are west of the choke point. Iran would cut off its own lifeblood, which accounts for more than 60% of its economy.

 

Furthermore, the US has made clear that interruption to sea traffic in the Gulf would be a "red line", triggering an overwhelming military response in which Iran's nuclear facilities would be on the target lists. Until now, the US military has ruled out strikes on the nuclear programme, as the costs of starting a war with Iran outweigh the gains of setting the programme back, in defence secretary Leon Panetta's estimation, one or two years at most. But if the US was going to war anyway over oil, that cost-benefit analysis would change.

 

So closing the strait outright would be – if not suicidal – an exercise in extreme self-harm for Iran. But the choice facing Tehran is not a binary one.

 

There is a spectrum of options falling well short of total closure; forms of harassment of the oil trade that would drive the price of crude up and keep it up, very much to Iran's benefit, but fall short of a casus belli for war. However, exercising such options requires subtlety and fine judgment on all sides and that is by no means a given.

 

In a period of sustained high tension, an over-zealous Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander could seize his moment to start a war, or a nervous American captain, his vessel just seconds from Iran's anti-ship missiles, could just as easily miscalculate. The last time Iran and America played chicken in this particular stretch of water, in 1988, a missile cruiser called the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian Airbus, killing 290 civilians including 66 children.

 

The shadow of Iran Air 655 hangs over the current standoff, as a reminder of how even the world's mightiest and most advanced militaries cannot necessarily control a situation in which tensions have been allowed to escalate.

 

US military options

 

There is no doubting the overwhelming firepower at America's disposal. The US Fifth Fleet, whose job it is to patrol the Gulf, is expected to be beefed up from one to two aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, as it has pulled its troops out of Iraq, the Pentagon has quietly boosted its army's presence in Kuwait. The Los Angeles Times reported that it now has 15,000 troops there, including two army brigades and a helicopter unit. The US is also bolstered by the significant naval presence of its British and Gulf allies.

 

The Iranian military looks puny by comparison, but it is powerful enough to do serious damage to commercial shipping. It has three Kilo-class Russian diesel submarines which run virtually silently and are thought to have the capacity to lay mines. And it has a large fleet of mini-submarines and thousands of small boats armed with anti-ship missiles which can pass undetected by ship-borne radar until very close. It also has a "martyrdom" tradition that could provide willing suicide attackers.

 

The Fifth Fleet's greatest concern is that such asymmetric warfare could be used to overpower the sophisticated defences of its ships, particularly in the narrow confines of the Hormuz strait, which is scattered with craggy cove-filled Iranian islands ideal for launching stealth attacks.

 

In 2002, the US military ran a $250m (£160m) exercise called Millennium Challenge, pitting the US against an unnamed rogue state with lots of small boats and willing martyr brigades. The rogue state won, or at least was winning when the Pentagon brass decided to shut the exercise down. At the time, it was presumed that the adversary was Iraq as war with Saddam Hussein was in the air. But the fighting style mirrored that of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

 

In the years since, much US naval planning has focused on how to counter "swarm tactics" – attacks on US ships by scores of boats, hundreds of missiles, suicide bombers and mines, all at once.

 

"Every couple of weeks in Washington you can go to a different conference on swarming," said Sam Gardiner, a retired US air force colonel who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College. "War games have shown that swarming, missiles and mines all together put a strain on the capacity of ships to defend themselves. Your challenge is how to protect your minesweepers from swarming techniques."

 

One of the US naval responses has been to develop a new kind of fighting vessel, the littoral combat ship (LCS), tailor-made for countering Iran's naval tactics. The LCS is sleek, small and agile with a shallow draft and high speeds, allowing it to operate along island-pocked coastlines.

 

At the low-tech end of the scale, the Fifth Fleet is reported to have deployed a significant number of dolphins trained to seek out mines.

 

Ultimately, the US response to swarming will be to use American dominance in the air and multitudes of precision-guided missiles to escalate rapidly and dramatically, wiping out every Iranian missile site, radar, military harbour and jetty on the coast. Almost certainly, the air strikes would also go after command posts and possibly nuclear sites too. There is little doubt of the effectiveness of such a strategy as a deterrent, but it also risks turning a naval skirmish into all-out war at short notice.

 

Iranian tactics

 

For that reason, most military analysts argue that if Iran does decide to exact reprisals for oil sanctions, it is likely to follow another route. Gardiner believes the most likely model will be the "tanker war" between Iran and Iraq from 1984 to 1987. The aim would be to raise insurance premiums and other shipping costs, and so boost oil prices as a way of inflicting pain on the west and replacing revenues lost through the embargo.

 

"They wouldn't necessarily do anything immediately. If they do what they did in the tanker war, a mine would be hit and it wouldn't be clear exactly how long it had been there. Things like that push up the price of oil. People talk about a spike in oil prices, but it might be more like a plateau," Gardiner said.

 

"The answer is not to escalate. You start protecting tankers and searching for mines."

 

Even if Iran decides on retaliation, there is no reason for it to be confined to an immediate response in the strait. It could target the oil price with acts of sabotage aimed at Arab state oil facilities along the southern shore of the Gulf, or western interests could be targeted anywhere around the world, months or years after the imposition of an embargo.

 

Adam Lowther, of the US air force's Air University, pointed out recently on the Diplomat blog that Iran's "ministry of intelligence and national security (MOIS), Iran's espionage service, is among the most competent in the world".

 

"Over the past 30 years, MOIS agents have successfully hunted down and assassinated dissidents, former officials of the shah's government, and real or perceived threats to the regime. MOIS is still capable of carrying out assassinations, espionage, and other kinetic attacks against government and civilian targets. The spy service is also likely to have covert agents in the United States," Lowther said.

 

Ehsan Mehrabi, an Iranian journalist specialising in military and strategic issues who recently left the country, wrote on the Inside Iran website: "I recall a famous Iranian idiom that was quite popular among the military officials: 'If we drown, we'll drown everyone with us'. They were pretty clear about their intention. If attacked by a western power, the war would not be contained within the Iranian borders. The entire world would become Iran's battleground – at least this was their thinking."

 

Obama administration officials believe that last year's Washington bomb plot, in which Revolutionary Guard officials are alleged to have planned to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US by blowing up his favourite restaurant in the American capital, could have been an attempt to settle scores for some past incident.

 

Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA official said recently at a seminar in Washington organised by the Atlantic Council: "One of the ways Iran can hurt us which is not often talked about is Iranians' capacity to hurt us in Obama's war, in Afghanistan. The Iranians are already superbly placed to make the war in the Afghanistan – which is already difficult – impossible."

 

All these options however represent high-risk strategies, fraught with risks of miscalculation. In the tanker war scenario, maintaining the line between war and peace would, in effect, be delegated to relatively junior officers, forced to make high-stakes decisions in a matter of seconds, the exact set of circumstances that led to the 1988 Airbus disaster. Even if Washington and Tehran remain determined to avoid an all-out war, with every passing month there is a rising chance of one breaking out by accident.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/23/iran-oil-embargo-mean-war

Edited by bigmatt
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Actually, Iran declaring war on the west is probably the for the best in the grand scheme of things. That way, there's no bad publicity. No one can call it "western imperialism" when it's a war of defence, China can't make a big scene in the U.N., Russia can't make a big scene to the E.U., France and Germany wouldn't be able to back out of it like they did in Iraq, because the war would be against them too. All the shitty parts of the War in Iraq would be taken care of, plus, we get to get rid of Iran, and the Iranian people won't even mind that much, because we didn't invade them, they invaded us (unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, were the westerners were, technically speaking, the aggressors).

 

I've always said before, the best case scenario from the perspective of the world as a whole is North Korea declaring war on South Korea, because then Russia and especially China will completely stay out of it. It's like the Falklands and America in the Second World War, diplomatically and publicity speaking, when it's a war you know you can win pretty easily, having an wild, fanatical, unreasonable enemy declaring war on you is pretty much awesome, because it gives you permission to slap the shit out of them, without ever having to really give any better reason to anyone other than "they started it".

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