NEAR EAST AND SOUTH ASIA REVIEW - THE GROWING IRANIAN THREAT TO PERSIAN GULF SH

Created: 12/5/1986

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Near East and South Asia Re*ic*j

56

Crvwtwj IntBu Tarai toI km

I. mutl Una, Skmu. mem

p. reactinguccooomtcnterfere with merchant iUppeag LaP'li Gvihe Gulf Arabs are iacreaaiBgly sajrdaaaeff.arc bracing tbenacrtea for pccaible nuQutrr eotoutitn^B

r

sis*-"

Sfaijlj

The Growing Iranianersian Gulf

Tehran, reacting lo iu sever* ecoraomie difficulties. isreater willingnessiler'err .merchant trappingthe Peniaa Gulf. Sinceran bu increased tbe strength and range of its air snd naval twees in the southern Golf and hu expanded ibe scope or lu antishippinghe Gulf Arabs are increaiingly worried and arc bracing themselves for possible military encounters. Although the Iranian military still display* some caution. Tehran's recent aggrcaaivenea* and the threat of more Itiacksjncxesuu: the reusabilityldening

Tha Pontic* of Ship Attach*

Iran hu been attacking ships in the Persian Gulfsually in retaliation for Iraqi airsirUu* agaiut tanker* carrying Iranian oilhs* year, however. Iran hu increasingly focused ruiu sirspcoiion ofinfluencing the Gulf Arab* to reduce their lupport for Iraq and to alter their oil production policies The greater determination shown by Tehran in the put few month* probably resultsesire to retaliate fcr Iraq's effective air campaign against the Iranian economy In view of tbe damage to Iran's oil export system. Tehran may abo believe il rieed* to back up iu reputed lh rentsake Iraq'* allies suffer if Iran cannot export oil J

inc^gem

ow focusing pressure oa Kuwait, whichtrong financial backer of Baghdad andajor iranishipper of anna bound for Iraq In addition. Iran hu been annoyed by Kuwaiti intransigence over oil produclion quotas at recent OPEC meetings. Tehran may view Kuwait as an attractive target because il can nor effectively defend snapping beyond it* constatost of ihc Iranian ship attacks in ihe pest few months were conducted aaajnsi Kuwain vessels or those trading with Kuwait.

* AMitkopiflf orxwtaai Include ink> aiiacU and lainsnd unciimo idnrt al

TV ittmantir Aimnit faliawtt

ai-,aft i.

Tehran is taking more of aline with Saudi Arabia. Displeased with Saudi oil policies carrier iht* year. Iran si laded three Saudi tanker* within one month in April and May after previously exempting them from the anmhippinj operations Ai Riyudb hu moved closer to Tehran's position on OPEC oil production. Iran is again exempting Saudi vessels from attack. Iranian pressure may no longer be oven, but th* threat is implicit in the increasedIran'* air and naval forces in the1 I

A Sonde* Over the StruH

(ran has greatly increased iu military pre**la the southern Gulf, where Tehran alreadyajor naval buc and airfield atbbas During

since late summer, Iranian naval ihiju

I9S6 tbe Irs mam began staging berjeoptm from Abu Musa Island and oil platform* in the southern GsJf. Iran has further extended iu opcriuoaaJ range by deploying alicraft to Kish

^CMMal defenseattery on Qoltimi^nauoeTsTeT^KuBesu i

have been mote aggressive, attacking at Bight and min; antiship cruise missiles and naval guns against merchant [hipping for tat first lime in thc_war.ranian

to hjtany^ip

iinese-builteshm Island. Tehran is ik for ibe HY-2s.

aod both sites give it the capability

trough the Strait of Hormunl

Nearly two-third* of all ship sttacks by Iran during Use six-yearraqhave occurred* Moreover. Irani deployment of air aod aaveJ onitt has greaily expanded the range of its aatUhipping operation* siaccfallhr area patrolled by Iran is now so large that merchant ships cannot avoid il or comptciely cross it at sight when Iranian air and naval forces arc not as active Using the new staging areas. Iranian antlibipping operations have occurred throughout the western approaches to the Strait of Hormma ia lac Calf of Oman In early November. Iranian Navy Commander Malekxadegan van? that merchant ships using Culf siaie territorial waters are wiihinlrnn'i defensive rone and iub)ect to

Iran hai been forceful in making its presence felt In the southern Gulf. Iranian naval unit* nave challenged Oman! patrol boats and have twice fired on aircraft of the United Arab Emirates Anired warning shoes si an Omtnj rtCOflriaiasance aircraft in Sepiembe

May Jume _

M> ""

A mail Stpmeibcr

Naaata

IfHHhip nucb mul TO

I WOWiii.

Moreover. Tehran baa stooped merchant ships as part ofampaign to halt the supply of arms to Iraq. This aggressiveness has been tempered by Iran's recognition of itsran has tried to avoid confrontations with tbe major powers, and the Soviet and US vessels thai were seized were quickly released.

ince October the

Tba CaaT State* Keapaad

The Calf ruiea than fariluagnes* to ream the Iranian pressure. In laic October, Kuwait ftrad two surface-to-air missiles al wbat ii believed was an Iranian aircraft. Byhe event, Kuwiit probably booed to deracasstratc its resolve to protect lta aovercignty from Iranianqajlt

a similarby hnng an

air-to-air missile at an Iranian aircraft creasingwatti ainarauae after bom bine an Iraqi oilfield

If.

Its

i exercise in i

lya

Wins* aggressively showing its desire to protect Ihas la ten additional measures to defensive carnbiliulanning lo mlisilesyUknh bland, mending its missile coverage by at leasthe Kuwaiti Navy has also begun eacprtiag tankers through it* terri tonal sratcra it recently he'd Its year

Riyadh is also reaponding to Tehran's growing belligerence. Tbe Saudis are deploying their newly org* mred Marine Forces as well as naval special forces from tbe Red Sea to RasGbar in the Persian

defense earrOae ia the Persian Gulf (taring early October. AWACS reporting indicate*Ss significantly boosted the number of practice

intercepts flown frommore nrterccptsecent four-day period than had beena tbe previousonths i

In addition, Saudi Arabia hasontingency pjanincaselranreaimieaiuytu onHral vent of aa stuckaud, vessel. Siudi nml forcca in Jubail will suge in Omam waters to escort

ports.or tbe escortulf Ccwperatioai Staus to approveof" over the southern Gulf.

satata WarrU

In rtapons* to Iranian alUscks earlier tail year, abipeers ordered their tanker* to avoid tbe Iranians by traveling at night and spending the daytime protected in safe anchorages. By early fall, however, tbe extended range of Iranian an lis hipping operations and the use of night attacks removed this defenac Thenumber of area leaf to ship attacks hasally 'this

scnsurers, andnions arc becoming more militant over the risk to uvea and ship* ia serving GalT ports. Convoy* are regarded as impractical by Ike operators, however, and they do not expect the Wcaurnjx Calf state naval force* to protect ilien; |

Onttoc*

Thenood chance that Iraa wtQ iacrease it* am shipping operation* aa economic pressuras baild because Tehran will consider lhat it has leas to lose by expanding tba war in tha Gulf. Iran's eflort* to data have not resulted in aay significant redivason f- the rnoverncnl of arras lo Iraq, patting additioaal prcsaiirc on Tehran lo do inorc- Even if Tehran only maintain* tbe current pace or its shiphe possibility of more severe actions may canse scene snippers to avoid Gulf ports. Once Iran*issile* becomem earlyaad seamen may become even more reluctant to enter the Strait. If Iraq continue* to stuck Tehran's oil (xport facilities, Iran may clamp down on the Gulf suits' exports. Tehran might scire Galf sutc oil ahiprneau to compensate for iU own losses or eventually use oommsndo-strlc raids directly against their oil facilities!-^

IraniO net try to clone ihc Strait of Honour Tehran dot* notonfrontation with Westernhich depend on tbe oil shipped through the Strait. Moreover. Iran neecU to move iu ownthrough the Strait and cannot afford to have il cloned. In nddrtjgfi^rajjian capability for aucb an operation ia lir

Tehran will probably continue tota ihip attacks to keep pressure on the Galf staica whileramatic escalation of iu confrontations with their militaries. The risk of hostilities, however, ia increasing been use of Iran's mere aggrcaaire acuvitica and greater military presence Saudi and Kuwaiti action* to deter Iranian attacks could leadilitary confrontation. Any confrontation it likely to be followed by urgent requcsta for USran willto avoid dashes with Western or Soviet navalhe rink of accidental oonfrantatKm ia Increasing, however, because of the Iranian Nary'i e> paneling ocea^tion* and beea wet of Tehran's increasing willing new, to take rjtks in use Gulf aa ita ccoffOOajcofiu jro**

aW Newt Jar SUawtsn* jF

t '

Ii October on Irani an frigaten Itallan-madt ea Killer anlliklf tnittllrhartered tanker Thirteen crrnnwui ware UOrsf or wounded, and the ihip mffcred u'lout damage In thltfirti wi of an Iranian naval miislieerchant vessel Shippers' conerrns o'er this development were further heightened betaute ihe tHiaek look place at night. Previously, merchant ihlpi traveled at night becamereferred weapon platform for tht,not operate during darkness.

v'

TV threat to thlpplng will increase greatly Inweest team will probably Ie rw*d> totsxtla. Theas awarhead that It neariy three times atthe Finch-built ulr-laumched Exocrt missilebp Iraq and It seven times largerSea Killer. In addition, the Exoeei wasdarruxge natal ve it el i'fire-control andnd<owrol tquipment. not ta tiak ships, butit capable of linking many types ofThaowever,etstyitem thorn atiher the Exocei orange of approximatelyorto cover the entire Strollaunchsitrl along ihe Iranian toast.

Iranian fngatet mead la dosehi: at leastilometers of their targets to fire the Sea Killer and could be deterred by Western or Gulf ttate naval escorts. Via of thewhich an petitioned am land, is unlikely to be atfeaed by ike prtsente of foreign warihipt.

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA