US, Iran Clash in Hormuz Strait: Not an Improbable Scenario

Donate

Written by Peter Korzun; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

The US remains adamant in its desire to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero, even if it hurts importing countries. America’s secondary sanctions on firms dealing with Iran would “snap back” on August 6 for trade in cars and metals and on November 4 for oil and banking transactions. The “wind down” period varied between 90 and 180 days is intended to allow entities to end businesses in Iran. There will be no waivers. India, China and Turkey are the oil importers expected not to succumb to US pressure.

US, Iran Clash in Hormuz Strait: Not an Improbable Scenario

Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy and planning, said “Our goal is to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue from crude oil sales.” The US has already approached Saudi Arabia on the subject of increasing exports to compensate for the reduction of Iranian oil on the world market.

The goal is to hit Iran’s economy against the background of ongoing protests inside the country. Last July, John Bolton openly called for regime change in Tehran. He was not national security adviser at the time but nothing makes believe he has changed his views since then.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned the United States about consequences. He said shipments from other countries would be disrupted if Iranian oil exports were suspended. Qassem Solaimani, the commander of the Al Quds Force in the Revolutionary Guards, joined him to confirm that his country will block oil shipments through the Hormuz Strait if the US administration stops Iranian oil exports. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that “either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one.”

If Iran does what it threatens to do, oil prices will rise up to $100 a barrel, maybe much more, saying farewell to President Trump’s dream of cheap oil to spur US economic growth. Venezuela can also come under sanctions to facilitate the price hike. But expensive oil will boost America’s shale production. The US appears to pursue two mutually exclusive goals at once. On July 4, President Trump was angry chastising OPEC in a tweet for not doing anything about gas prices going up in the United States. He did not make precise why and how exactly OPEC should bring US gas prices down. From the point of view of US economic interests, the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal does not look like a very wise step. But Mr. Trump has already shot himself in the foot and it’s too late to stop now as countering Iran has become a pillar of his foreign policy.

The US military has already responded to confirm its readiness to protect the freedom of navigation. But Iran appears to be adamant. It has too little to lose if the economy collapses as the US wants it to. Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and the largest parts of Saudi Arabian and Iraqi oil exports go through the Hormuz Strait, which accounts for 20 percent of the world oil trade (about 35% of the petroleum traded by sea) or 17-18 million barrels a day plus about 3 million barrels of oil products. Add to it liquefied natural gas shipped from Qatar. The oil goes to different parts of the world and there is no alternative route. Only Saudi Arabia (two pipelines exporting totally 5.1 million barrels a day), the UAE (a pipeline with a capacity of 1.5 million barrels a day) and, to a lesser extent, Iraq (a pipeline to Turkey with an output of 1.5 million barrels) have land transit routes used at 40%, 20% and 40% of their capacities respectively.

The Iranian Navy poses a serious threat but its missiles capable of attacking US warships will be spotted by the American Qatar-based X-band radar station in as little as four minutes. They will be countered by Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) interceptors located in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates augmented by US Navy cruisers and destroyers equipped with Aegis missile defense systems. The Persian Gulf monarchies will probably join the battle.

Mines laid in Hormuz Strait waters will require a long and difficult effort to clear them. US frigate Samuel B. Roberts was nearly sunk after hitting a mine in 1988 during the Tanker War. International law allows for peacetime mining of high-seas areas under certain strict conditions. Laying mines in national waters is hardly an act of war. The Hormuz Strait is completely enclosed by the 12-mile territorial seas of the littoral states. They have special protection under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) not ratified by the United States.

According to different estimates, Iran has a stockpile of 3,000 to 6,000 mines, including bottom-moored buoyant contact and multiple-influence rocket-propelled straight-rising ones. Mine laying activities conducted on a large scale by surface ships aviation can hardly be undetected but submarines can lay enough mines clandestinely to make ship captains think twice before risking a movement through the Strait without a mine clearing ship leading the way. The US Navy has a few Avenger type mine countermeasures ships based in Bahrain.

As a result of the United States’ unilateral decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and impose sanctions, a potential confrontation is brewing in the Strait of Hormuz. A war is not an impossible scenario. Without oil revenues, Iran will be pushed to the last resort.

Donate

SouthFront

Do you like this content? Consider helping us!

  • Wise Gandalf

    So weak article.

    Ot is very easy to manipulate the oil price. With limitation of daily production. This is easier, cheaper method. Moreover, long lasting compared to 3-7 days blockade of Hormuz.

    Trump does not wynt 100 usd/barrel.

    • Sinbad2

      What Trump wants, and what he will get might be different.
      The US has destroyed oil production in countries that don’t exclusively use the US dollar for sales, Libya and Venezuela, and is trying to stop Iran and Russia from selling oil.
      The price went up, houda thunk?
      Trump has no idea what he is doing, just a bull in a china shop.

  • Jesus

    “””July 4, President Trump was angry chastising OPEC in a tweet for not doing anything about gas prices going up in the United States.”””

    Trump imposes sanctions on Iranian oil, oil futures go higher and gasoline becomes more expensive. Russia laughs all the way to the bank; China , India Turkey …etc will not honor the sanctions and buy Iranian oil using petro yuan, rupees to settle the purchases.

    As far as the viability of Hormuz staying open, aside from mines, Iran has a respectable arsenal of antiship missiles with ranges of up to 200-300 kms. The very threat to the flow of shipping in Hormuz would send oil prices to over $100.

    In the end, US sanctions will have mixed results since Iran is not isolated, JCPA members still are trying to work around US sanctions.

    • Wise Gandalf

      Putin is begging Trump to finish sanctions against Russia.

    • paul ( original )

      Iran might be able to endure USA pressure but I don’t think it is ridiculous to say that for sure it make Iran’s position very difficult. To be honest all I can see is Iran just struggling to survive the pressure which I expect will be sustained and increasing. Yes there are ways around for Iran , but these did not work that well the last time. I don’t in the long term expect that these will work that well this time. I could be wrong, but for certain it is an unknown.
      Now the question might be would it be better for Iran to initiate a military option forthwith. This would be a big gamble for Iran and my judgement of the leadership is that they do not have the resolve to do this.
      The thing is Iran should never have got itself into this position in the first place. For that the current leadership is responsible. I would not have expected Ahmadinejad to have done the same thing.

      • Jesus

        What did Iran do to get in this position? They helped Syria to defeat zio axis proxies and get close to Israeli border. Russia was sanctioned for its actions in Syria (indirectly). There are other JCPA participants that do not share US’ position, and the trade war with China makes the latitude of the sanctions gray.

        The Silk Road would go through Iran, so China has a vested interest in Iran’s well being.

        • paul ( original )

          They agreed to the JCPOA. I don’t think Ahmadinejad would have done this. We will see if Iran can salvage something from the other signatories. But even if they do, and I think it unlikely , they are most likely going to end up with only a fraction of what they expected to get out of the deal. Simultaneously the America gets everything it initially wanted from the deal as the nuclear enrichment program has been cut back. This being the only real physical result of the deal.

          • Jesus

            If the remaining signatories do not live up to the agreement, Iran can resume its uranium enrichment program. Front end of the agreement benefited Iran to a point where it made it logical to sign the agreement.

          • Joe

            There you said it. America first trick Iran and now NK to give up , then reverse their decision the next minute.

            Surely US Can no longer be trusted for anything.

            So US deserves what they preach….being untrustworthy.

            I doubt NK will go thru with rediculous US demands to denuclearize..
            Kim would be theost stupid person to go thru with denuclearization without US give up anything.

          • paul ( original )

            Yes that just about sums it up. I don’t know if NK will be sucked or not. The thing is the USA is ruthless in pursuing its own agenda. I don’t judge them ,I just observe this as a fact. It is up to other nations to understand the situation. However, it appears to me that this approach has afforded the USA quite a few policy advantages, at least in its own terms.

        • Wise Gandalf

          Iran tries to build up own units in different countries. THIS IS criminal act. Syria for syrians!

          • Pacificnorthwest

            you have your head up your ass, if you actually believe the crap you just said

          • Sinbad2

            Well of course not he’s a provocateur in a skirt.

          • Sinbad2

            The US Iran is going to the aid of a friend in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Ukraine Syria.

          • Wise Gandalf

            usa, australia are also criminal lands

          • Joe

            Yes Syrians for Syrians. Without Iran’s help, Syrians would not have Syria in fact. It would be terrorists country controlled by US and SA

            Know this fact . How can a small Syrian army stand the might of the terrorists countries ?

    • Pave Way IV

      Israel is perfectly willing to have Americans (and everyone else on earth) pay $250/bbl for oil if necessary because the anti-Semites in the U.S. have so far refused Israel’s demand to attack Iran and kill a good portion its 80 million citizens. Don’t you people realize that it’s necessary to ensure the security of the Jewish State? Did all of you forget about the Holocaust? Shame on all of you Nazis!

      Jesus: “…Russia laughs all the way to the bank…”

      So do Trump, Bush, and the rest of the oily oligarchs. They picked up Bakken (North Dakota) and Eagle Ford (Texas) production for pennies on the dollar during low oil prices. Time to squeeze the little people for more cash. Nobody is entitled to $50/bbl oil. Where’s the profit in that?

      • Joe

        Doubt US dare to go to war with Iran . Iran is not Iraq.

        Do you know what it takes to invade a country like Iran?

        At most they try to bomb using their navies that is all . Arab states would not dare too.

        • Wise Gandalf

          Joe, the little stipido. America dare atatck iran. simply nbombs iran into medieval age. will not send any troops.

          • Pacificnorthwest

            I see we have a mini Dr. Strangelove on our hands.
            There is nothing wise about you Gand-awful… or whatever you call yourself.

          • Sinbad2

            Always be wary of guys in frocks, they are usually flashers.

          • Joe

            If America dare to attack Iran straight , long ago during Bush time could have done it.

            Using bombs and you think US can have complete command of the air that their planes can fly freely without being shot down?

            Just a little comparision…. Lebanon 2006 , Israel bombed Lebanon until all her supplies ran out and had to resupply and yet hardly any major damage to the country except for some parts of Hez territor.

            Yemen today … you think Saudis allies do not have bombs …. can those bombs destroy entire Yemen? No only a few wedding parties …

            Look at Iran compared to Lebanon … use your head and some maths.

            Can you flatten Iran and using only bombs and win the war when the entire ME US presence would be wiped out. Only planes you can use would be F35 or F22 maybe but these are hardly planes suitable for bombing accurately the ground forces. F22 requires 30 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight.

            To win a war with Iran , US has to engage a build up three times the size of the invasion force for Iraq and US does not have that kind of manpower nor assets.

            Ships vs land based missiles ….. no chance for ships and Iran does not have to venture to the blue seas …but just in Straits of Hormuz where no Us ship will stay afloat.

          • Wise Gandalf

            usa shits on iran

      • Jesus

        Trump is not going to attack Iran, Trump is not Netanyahu’s puppet and start wars that does not benefit US, he made concessions to Israel in an effort to work out a peace deal between the Jews and Palestinians. The security of Israel will be Israel’s responsibility, not America’s.
        In the end the whole world will be against Israel.

        Trump is sticking it or the neocons and Israeli firsters of the old world order, they are loosing their relevance.

  • Joe

    Actually in reality US cannot do anything.

    All Iran needs to do is to fire and sink JUST ONE tanker … rest of civilian tankers will not past through. Insurance premium would be too high.

    US has no way to neutralise Iranian land based missiles as like Israel unable to neutralise Hezbollah missiles…

    Anyway … sure Iran with no oil for export has nothing to lose and war can be possible .

    That is the reason why US is leaving Syria trying to get whatever they can from Russia… as the US troops would be dead meat there .

    • Zionism = EVIL

      This article is total RUBBISH. The Zionists could not detect a single old C-802 and it hit Hanit. The US can hardly keep track of 2200 kms of Iranian coastline dotted with caves and mountains. Do anyone think that Iran has been sleeping for the past 40 years? It has build layers of missile defences from Chah Bahar to Abadan. What are S-300 and the thousands of Iranians SAM systems for? The Persian Gulf at Hormuz narrows is barely 30 miles wide and even basic artillery can block it. And as you said a few sunk tankers will do the trick.

      • Nexusfast123

        The US is indeed an Idiotocracy.

        • Zionism = EVIL

          Google a PEW poll on the most IGNORANT countries in the world and the US morons come up tops. The whole country is full of gun toting loudmouth crazies who are totally out of whack with the rest of the world. No wonder the orange malignant narcissist moron is the POTUS.

    • Nightcrawler136

      All US bases in the Middle East are within range of Iran’s missiles!

      • Hisham Saber

        Long range Iranian ballistic missiles gave a range/radius of 2000 km. And the newer generation of solid fueled missiles are extremely accurate. Iran has hundreds of thousands of ballistic missiles, missiles, cruise missiles of varying types and applications for them. They have been preparing for 40 years for a showdown with Israel/U.S.

        A war on Iran would prove suicidal for Israel, and the Petro-dollar. In fact, the whole Jewish global monetary scheme nourished for about 200 years would fall down like a house of cards.

        Iran can field men in the tens of millions if need be. The Basij alone are up to 5 million. The Iranian Armed Forces about one and a quarter million, IRGC about half a million. Then you have volunteers, from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, all waiting impatiently for Mr. Khamenei to give the ‘ order ‘ to take down the Zionist entity.

        The U.S., France, Britain will not be able to come to Israel’s rescue. It will be total defeat, and Palestine will go back to being Palestine. Jordans King will be dethroned, the Gulf GCC monarchies will be deposed of and peace , harmony and development will take hold in the region.

  • Real Anti-Racist Action

    If Russia gave a damn about Iran being innocent, then Iranians would have the S-400 system for crying out loud. Israeli craft are invincible to everything S-300 and below. Possibly the F-35I is vulnerable to the S-400 system, but even this is not an established fact.
    Iran does not have shit that works from other countries, the only relevant items they poses are those they have built themselves endogenously.
    Russia, supply and sell something to Iran that makes a difference in a spectacular way to defend against Israel and counter USSA global dominance.
    https://dailystormer.name/

    • Sinbad2

      When Russia moved the S400 to Syria, the US withdrew the F22’s.
      As an F22 is stealthier than an F35, I imagine they can target the plane.

      • Nexusfast123

        For almost all missions, as I understand, the F35 has to carry external ordinance. It’s not stealthy. Recently, when the Israelis flew a couple to Iranian airspace and back the Russians hinted that they had tracked them.

        • Zionism = EVIL

          The Zionists tell lies. Iranian Kolchuga 1000km BVR radar can pick up any Zionist air movement in real time. So-called Pisrael is only 35 miles wide from Golan to Tel-Aviv. The Zionists however do excel at propaganda. Iran now also has ELINT stations in Syria so flying undetected to Iran is a pipe dream at best,

        • Sinbad2

          An F35 doesn’t have the range to fly from Israel to Iran.

    • Sinbad2

      Why should Russia give a damn about Iran, the US doesn’t give a damn about the American people, the UK is poisoning its people, and Israel kills children for sport, like in Schindlers list.

      Any way you cut it, Russia is a shinning light compared to its despotic adversaries.

  • Sinbad2

    Iran can export oil, without the Persian Gulf, via Chabahar and the Caspian sea, but it would be in much smaller quantities.
    A better alternative for Iran, is to stage a false flag, blame Saudi Arabia, and destroy the Saudi oil terminals.

    • Ariel Cohen

      Don’t be silly. That would be the perfect not-false flag for a US-Israeli attack on Iran. That was the trap saddam fell into . .

  • Manuel Flores Escobar

    What stupid scenario…Iran can destroy tankers in Ormuz while are launching long range missile vs main Gulf states airports…so in few days EU, Qatar and saudi Arabia collapses!

  • Nexusfast123

    The US is really quite a dumb nation. The article makes a big deal of Patriot and THAAD but they would be next to useless. They are easy to overwhelm and would be ineffective against anti ship missiles fired across the Strait. Ships in the Strait would be sitting ducks with next to zero time to pick up and deal with missiles. More importantly the mere threat of a conflict will send shipping insurance premiums through the roof and once a tanker is hit there will be no insurance cover and no one will ship no matter what the US mercenaries, sorry, military does.

  • Sinbad2

    When the US was attacking Iran some years back, I noticed that Iran brought all its tankers home.
    At the time I thought scuttle them in the channel, very hard to clear.