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einsteinboricua
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Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:29 pm

So, there's been a lot of talk from Iran about their capability to shut down Gulf oil production by closing the Strait of Hormuz (the only entrance to the Persian Gulf, a narrow gap between Iran, and the UAE and an exclave of Oman, for those who don't know there it is). If by some reason Iran does proceed to shut down the strait, would it be breaking international law? Would it warrant a mini proxy war in the Gulf with a UN led coalition to safeguard oil tankers while another repels/cripples the Iranian forces?

Here's an article about this.
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displaya...July86.xml&section=middleeast&col=

Might be interesting to see the scenarios people here will come up with.

[Edited 2011-07-04 08:30:25]
"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."
 
mham001
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:42 pm

This is nothing new and the very reason why the US rotates 3 carrier groups through there.

This is also a fine example of how much we have to gain by losing the oil addiction. Buy an electric car.
 
baroque
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:47 pm

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
Would it warrant a mini proxy war in the Gulf with a UN led coalition to safeguard oil tankers while another repels/cripples the Iranian forces?

Er, the article is talking about Iranian retaliation to a war against it. So by all means start a mini or a maxi proxy war against them, if that is you WANT the Sts of Hormuz closed. Starting a war should do it.
 
elmothehobo
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:06 pm

Iran attempted something to that extent during the Iran-Iraq War, you would probably get a similar response today.

Iran began targeting Arab tankers in retaliation for supporting Iraq's invasion of Iran, they successfully struck several oil tankers both in port and at sea with missiles and with gun boat attacks. Threatened by interruptions in the supply chain, the Navy carried out four separate operations to protect the sea lanes.

Operation Earnest Will, which included tanker escorts through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. During the course of Operation Earnest Will, and Iranian missile struck the USS Samuel B. Roberts, while escorting ships through international waters.

Each escalation thereafter led to greater American intervention, first attacking oil platforms that were suspected of being used by Iranian gunboats and torpedo boats to attack tankers and naval vessels, when attacks continued, the Navy attacked the Iranian Navy, sinking a substantial number of vessels.
 
baroque
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:19 am

Quoting elmothehobo (Reply 3):
Iran attempted something to that extent during the Iran-Iraq War, you would probably get a similar response today.

And IIRC it did not end too well. Iranian passenger jet shot down. Perhaps as a result, the Lockerbie crash.

Who knows what would happen in another attempt? Iran did not have many missiles last time. Maybe its missiles are not a big threat, but there have been cases where threats were underestimated by the west in the past. As well as overestimated. In fact hard to think of a case where estimates were accurate come to that.

Certainly Iranian offshore platforms are vulnerable, but do you really want to go around destroying oil production capacity? You might also want to wonder how much effort you want to spend on defending platforms where the US has an interest in the rest of the world - rather a lot of them you know.
 
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LAXintl
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:50 am

Simply put, if desired Iran could make life miserable for lots folks that rely on the Persian Gulf.

From personal experience during the Iran-Iraq war, I recall shipping insurance giants like Lloyds even withdrew insurance coverage in the region for tanker which forced companies to rely on government backstop war-risk insurance, while crude oil experienced a definite premium itself due added risk and potential for disruption.
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jwenting
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:07 am

That Iranian action was also (directly or indirectly) instrumental in the construction of large oil terminals in Turkey and on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
While those can't (yet?) handle the entire flow of oil not going through the straits, they can at least take up part of the capacity lost were the ayatollahs to get uppity again and sow mines in international waters.

As to whether it'd be against international law, that's open for dispute.
As Iran claims the entire straits as their territorial waters, and inside those you can do pretty much whatever you want, they'd according to their claims be in violation of nothing.
Other countries have different claims (including some claiming parts of the straits as their own) and would thus call any such Iranian attempt a violation of international treaties and maybe an invasion of their territory.
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wn700driver
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:42 am

Quoting jwenting (Reply 6):

As to whether it'd be against international law, that's open for dispute.

As an academic matter, you're probably right. But I have no doubt that if Iran pulled that, the US or even the UN would find a way to fix it so that it was in violation of the law. I think this is one of those cases where the rest of the world would see to it that that trick doesn't last real long.
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elmothehobo
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:30 pm

Quoting Baroque (Reply 4):
Perhaps as a result, the Lockerbie crash.

While Colonel Qaddafi's Libya was neutral (though official opposed to Saddam's invasion of Iran), the two events were unrelated. The downing of the Iran Air flight by the Vincennes was a terrible tragedy, however, it was one of the reasons Iran threw in the towel. The destruction of its surface fleet and the downing of a civilian airliner convinved the the Iranian regime that sticking it back to Saddam was simply not worth it.

Quite unfortunate considering that Iraq was by any stretch of the imagination the instigator of the conflict.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 4):
Iran did not have many missiles last time.

They did. A Kuwaiti or American flagged tanker was struck just off Kuwait by an Iranian missile.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 4):
Maybe its missiles are not a big threat, but there have been cases where threats were underestimated by the west in the past. As well as overestimated. In fact hard to think of a case where estimates were accurate come to that.

They were a threat, though they were not particularly accurate - then again that was nearly thiry years ago, Iran has made substantial advances in missile technology.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 5):
From personal experience during the Iran-Iraq war, I recall shipping insurance giants like Lloyds even withdrew insurance coverage in the region for tanker which forced companies to rely on government backstop war-risk insurance, while crude oil experienced a definite premium itself due added risk and potential for disruption.

You are right. Midway through the war, the U.S. began a program of reflaging ships to the US flag as they transited the Gulf. Because the U.S. was a neutral party in the war (yeah, right), an attack on such a vessel would be an act of war against a neutral country.

Quoting jwenting (Reply 6):
As to whether it'd be against international law, that's open for dispute.

It would violate international maritime law. There are several precendents for that. The Strait of Hormuz contains a shipping channel that lies in international waters - and even then, if Iran were to block both international and its own territorial water, ships could pass along Omani and Emirati territorial waters.

I will try to dig up a great map I used in a presentation about this topic.
 
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einsteinboricua
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:58 pm

Quoting elmothehobo (Reply 8):
It would violate international maritime law. There are several precendents for that. The Strait of Hormuz contains a shipping channel that lies in international waters - and even then, if Iran were to block both international and its own territorial water, ships could pass along Omani and Emirati territorial waters.

That would be something. What if Oman and the UAE do not want to partake in this scenario and refuse passage of ships to/from the Gulf? Also, what do you do if your ship needs to go eastbound. Eventually, either go way south that you're out of Iran's grasp (and even then it's not safe due to pirates off the coast of Somalia) or go take a western route.

Of course, if Iran does choke off the Persian Gulf, it would risk total retaliation. Think about this:
Arab countries request foreign powers to safeguard their exports (sort of like the Gulf War). Iran can mount a blockade, but if it fires onto a foreign flagged vessel, it's war. The extent of the war would depend on the country. If the US is involved, would it only cripple the Iranian Navy, Air Force, and the Revolutionary Guards' equipment, or will it be an excuse to strike Iranian targets (nuclear reactors, perhaps)?
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BMI727
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:54 pm

Quoting jwenting (Reply 6):
As to whether it'd be against international law, that's open for dispute.
As Iran claims the entire straits as their territorial waters, and inside those you can do pretty much whatever you want, they'd according to their claims be in violation of nothing.

You'd likely see a repeat of the Gulf of Sidra incident(s). Hope the Iranian Air Force issues water wings.
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baroque
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:09 am

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10):
Hope the Iranian Air Force issues water wings.

They do not fit so well on surface to air missiles.

Quoting elmothehobo (Reply 8):
The downing of the Iran Air flight by the Vincennes was a terrible tragedy, however, it was one of the reasons Iran threw in the towel.

Best ask the Iranians now if they "threw in the towel". They agreed to a ceasefire. By 1982 the US thought they had won, took another 6 years of extensive support by the west to get to the 1988 ceasefire and Saddam returned part of the Shatt el Arab.

From Wiki a flavour of their ideas"
The Islamic Revolution of Iran was strengthened and radicalized.[176] The Iranian government-owned Etelaat newspaper wrote:

"There is not a single school or town that is excluded from the happiness of "holy defence" of the nation, from drinking the exquisite elixir of martyrdom, or from the sweet death of the martyr, who dies in order to live forever in paradise."
 
elmothehobo
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RE: Iran And The Strait Of Hormuz

Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:56 pm

Quoting Baroque (Reply 11):
Best ask the Iranians now if they "threw in the towel". They agreed to a ceasefire. By 1982 the US thought they had won, took another 6 years of extensive support by the west to get to the 1988 ceasefire and Saddam returned part of the Shatt el Arab.

The downing of Iran Air 655 happened in 1988. Iran had gained offensive momentum and (finally) regained the upper hand on land.

Iraq invaded Iran, not the other way around, and despite support from just about everybody (both the USSR and the US supported Iraq), they managed to lose most all of their gains in 2-3 years in, after which the war became one of attrition and, as we've discussed, one of commerce raiding that led to American intervention, the eventual downing of Iran Air 655 and the end of the Iran-Iraq War.

Simply put, neither the Ayatollah nor the President could justify fighting over a couple of miles if their commercial fleet was to be subjected to unrestricted warfare and their commercial flights shot down. When the war ended, Iranian forces were only miles from Basra (where the main thrust of the Iraqi invasion of Khuzestan began in 1980) and had more or less pushed to the pre-war lines.

This war really takes the cake for being the bloodiest war neither side gaining anything.

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