Armada of international naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike


Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike

telegraph.co.uk

Cruisers, aircraft carriers and minesweepers from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s oil traded by sea.

A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most congested international waterways. It is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and is bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the Oman to the south.

In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.

The war games are the largest ever undertaken in the region.

They will practise tactics in how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and the force will also undertake counter-mining drills.

The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three US Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.

The carriers are supported by at least 12 battleships, including ballistic missile cruisers, frigates, destroyers and assault ships carrying thousand of US Marines and special forces.

The British component consists of four British minesweepers and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Cardigan Bay, a logistics vessel. HMS Diamond, a brand-new £1billion Type 45 destroyer, one of the most powerful ships in the British fleet, will also be operating in the region.

In addition, commanders will also simulate destroying Iranian combat jets, ships and coastal missile batteries.

In the event of war, the main threat to the multi-national force will come from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy, which is expected to adopt an “access-denial” strategy in the wake of an attack, by directly targeting US warships, attacking merchant shipping and mining vital maritime chokepoints in the Persian Gulf.

Defence sources say that although Iran’s capability may not be technologically sophisticated, it could deliver a series of lethal blows against British and US ships using mini-subs, fast attack boats, mines and shore-based anti-ship missile batteries.

Next month, Iran will stage massive military manoeuvres of its own, to show that it is prepared to defend its nuclear installations against the threat of aerial bombardment.

The exercise is being showcased as the biggest air defence war game in the Islamic Republic’s history, and will be its most visible response yet to the prospect of an Israeli military strike.

Using surface-to-air missiles, unmanned drones and state-of-the-art radar, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and air force will combine to test the defences of 3,600 sensitive locations throughout the country, including oil refineries and uranium enrichment facilities.

Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya air defence base, told a conference this month that the manoeuvres would “identify vulnerabilities, try out new tactics and practise old ones”.

At the same time as the Western manoeuvres in the Gulf, the British Response Task Forces Group — which includes the carrier HMS Illustrious, equipped with Apache attack helicopters, along with the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – will be conducting a naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean. The task force could easily be diverted to the Gulf region via the Suez Canal within a week of being ordered to do so.

The main naval exercise comes as President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, today to discuss the Iranian crisis.

Many within the Obama administration believe that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the US presidential elections, an act which would signal the failure of one of Washington’s key foreign policy objectives.

Both Downing Street and Washington hope that the show of force will demonstrate to Iran that Nato and the West will not allow President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, to develop a nuclear armoury or close Hormuz.

Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, reportedly met the Israeli prime minister and Ehud Barak, his defence secretary, two weeks ago in an attempt to avert military action against Iran.

But just last week Mr Netanyahu signalled that time for a negotiated settlement was running out when he said: “The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’

“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

The crisis hinges on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, which Israel believes is designed to build an atomic weapon. Tehran has long argued that the programme is for civil use only and says it has no plans to an build a nuclear bomb, but that claim has been disputed by the West, with even the head of MI6 stating that the Islamic Republic is on course to develop atomic weapons by 2014.

The Strait of Hormuz has long been disputed territory, with the Iranians claiming control of the region and the entire Persian Gulf.

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps recently boasted that “any plots of enemies” would be foiled and a heavy price exacted, adding: “We determine the rules of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”

But Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, warned that Iranian attempts to exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz could be met with force.

He said: “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region — by Iran or, for that matter, by its surrogates.”

Mr Panetta said that the United States was “fully prepared for all contingencies” and added: “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat if they make that decision.”

That announcement was supported by Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, who added: “We are determined to work as part of the international community effort to ensure freedom of passage in the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz.”

One defence source told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “If it came to war, there would be carnage. The Iranian casualties would be huge but they would be able to inflict severe blows against the US and British.

“The Iranian Republican Guard are well versed in asymmetrical warfare and would use swarm attacks to sink or seriously damage ships. This is a conflict nobody wants, but the rhetoric from Israel is unrelenting.”

  1. #1 by on September 17, 2012 - 5:05 pm

    Red Sea Dead Sea, Hormuz Straight.. fault trenches inundate, seals the chosen fate.

    If attacked, then Iran should focus on destroying the majority of the israeli air rapists, and not attack the united states or commercial interests, nor dig Palestine a new shoreline.

  2. #2 by amerikagulag on September 17, 2012 - 7:06 pm

    The whining jews will drag anyone they can into it. Perhaps this is as it should be. Perhaps it’s time for Israel to cease existence. That would be a good thing for the world

  3. #3 by woofie on September 17, 2012 - 7:49 pm

    Why doesn’t the world tell Israel to F-Off?! Let’s put together a coalition to preemptively attack Israel and silence the mad dog for good. Let the Palestnians mop up afterwards and reclaim their land and take revenge for 60 years of crimes and Holocaust against them from the evil, demonic, supremacist, racist, psychopathic Zionist entity.

    Israel is a fat, engorged tick on the hindside of the world.

  4. #4 by B.A.Frémaux-Soormally on September 17, 2012 - 10:23 pm

    IRAQ REVISITED!

    25 nations? Who are they? The same Sodomite lovers as before, most probably? The Muslims living in those countries should start and IMMEDIATE BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN!

    BAFS

  5. #5 by 30.06 on September 18, 2012 - 3:40 am

    25 Lapdogs of Israel , ain’t democracy wonderful….

  6. #6 by Lee on September 18, 2012 - 4:25 am

    Israel reminds of a New Testament quote: 1st Peter 5:8

    “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

    Like the devil, Israel will drag any and everybody with it on the way to hell. This should be of no surprise since they are spawn of Satan. Seems like Jesus was right all along. Too bad modern Christians can’t see an obvious truth.

  7. #7 by MJ on September 18, 2012 - 1:10 pm

    But just last week Mr Netanyahu signalled that time for a negotiated settlement was running out when he said: “The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’

    Yahoo continues don’t ya know we gotta do something special ta get the mochaich? That is my mission!

  8. #8 by B.A.Frémaux-Soormally on September 18, 2012 - 3:42 pm

    MJ on September 18, 2012 – 1:10 pm

    “But just last week Mr Netanyahu…”

    For me Netanyahu and the likes are henchmen and henchwomen of Satan, so I never listen to them. What I am concerned with is what we say and more importantly WHAT WE DO TO STOP THE DEVIL!

    All the rest is waste of time and mere distraction!

    Basheer

  9. #9 by NAeem on September 18, 2012 - 4:47 pm

    ♥- Your naive iran is very in the know that it is the USA who funds the mad dog to the teeth, lets not forget what the US did to iraq for their beloved israel and you think they won’t join in to help the mad dog you must be really naive thank god iran isn’t. Iran must destroy every single Us interest in the region incase of an attack then go under a china/russia nuclear umbrella because thats the only thing the US can use to damage iran.

  10. #10 by MARY SHITHAM on September 26, 2012 - 10:05 pm

    Incredidible, as it may seem Vladimir Putin is holding the High grownd when it comes to christianity, as an Orthodox Christian He has more understandig than the Black Jew we have in the White House that doe He claims to a Christian, His actons speak lowder than its empty words, when it comes to the destruction of so many lives, that don’t even have a clue of what these international satan spawned zionist criminals, are doing to humanity as a whole and what their agenda for the future holds.

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