Senate Energy Briefing4
The Iran-Iraq war, in its fourth year, hasull during which both sides are evaluating their options. Iran continues to reject all attempts at mediation and seems intent on pursuing its war of attrition until Iraqi President Saddam Uussein is overthrown. Iran receiving arms-fl
to continue the current level of fighting indefinitely but lacks the conventional equipment necessary toecisive victory. Iran's biggest failure to date probably has been its inability toatisfactory source of supply for major military equipment.
Iraq, on the other hand,ell equipped, but Presently Baghdad isombinationinitiatives and military threatearch forrevenues to bait its economic slide, and an end to thediplomacy and threat fail to move Baghdad closer towe believa Iraq will carry through on its threatthe fighting. Military action, however, willbe ciosely linked to diplomacy. Iran's response toaggressiveness couldycle of escalation that(if
The Iran-Iraq war is one of the longest and bloodiest in recent Kiddle East history.
roops have beeneriously wounded,0 taken prisoner.
rmored vehiclesighter aircraft have been destroyed.
Three major Iranian cities and cix townsrewar population estimated at over one nillion have been devastated and, in some cases, no longer exist.
The war currentlytalemate with neither side having much chance ofecisive military victory. Iraq long ago* forfeited the military Initiative byefensive strategy. Iran, on the other hand, lacks the conventional military equipment toecisive breakthrough. The chart shows the current equipment inventories of Iran and Iraq.
He judge that less than half the equipment listed in the Iranian column is actually operational. Iraq hasive-to-one advantage in operational armoredwo-to-one edge in artillery,etter than eix-to-one advantage in combat
aircraft. He expect the equipment gap in Iraq's favor to continue to widen
relatively email offensives into Iraq at Haj Umran in July, Hehran in August, and at Panjwin in October and November. Iran is attempting to keep the military pressure on Iraq, stir up trouble in Iraqi Kurdistan and wait for Iraq's economic difficulties and Iranian subversion to bring down Saddam Uussoin. |
Iraq's Financial Problem
Iraq can cope with Iran's offensives, its more immediate problem is financial. Two ofhree pre-war oil export outlets are closed. Iran early in the war seriously damaged Iraq's Persian Gulf oil loading terminals! and2 Syria closedillion barrels per day Iraqi pipeline through Syria. esult, Iraqi oil exports are limited toarrels per day through the Turkish pipeline and0 barrels per day trucked through-Jordan and Turkey.
0 Iraqillion from oil3 Iraq earned aboutillion. To cope Baghdad has had to slash imports severely, defer2 billion in payments owed
foreign companies, and press its Gulf Arab allies for additional help. Direct Gulf aid, however, declined5 billion26 billion That, plus an7 billion derived from Gulf oil sales on Iraq's behalf still left an unfinanced deficit3 of aboutillion that Baghdad had to cover by drawing down its foreign exchange reserves. Iraq's reserves have fallen fromillion before the war5 billion at present. We see only marginal relief in .sight Oil exports probably will increase somewhat through the expansion of the Turkish pipeline; foreign assistance is not likely to exceed last year's level.
Toay out of its economic difficulties, Iraq began last year to threaten to escalate the conflict in the Gulf using Super Etendards supplied by France. The five aircraft armed with Exocet antiship missiles currently are stationed at an airbase in northern Iraq.
Because Iran seems intent on pursuing the war, the Gulf is likely to remain closed to Iraq. The best option, therefore, would seem to be new outlets. To this end Baghdad has explored pipeline construction deals with Jordan and with Saudi Arabia. Both governments have agreed ineagerly, Saudi Arabia reluctantly. Neither pipeline option in our judgment could pay off in additional revenues before the start of next year under the best circumstances. Beginning construction, however, would allow Iraq to reassure its creditorsolution is at hand.
During the next month or two Iraqi leaders will assess the benefits of their diplomatic gambit. Indeed, some benefits arc already apparent. Plans topur line to the Saudi trans-Arabian pipeline appear to be moving forward and there is increased pressure on Western governments to restrict the flow of
But if Iraqi leaders believe that there is no meaningful progress onew oil export route, or if additional aid is not forthcoming from Iraq's backers, the pressuresilitary escalation will grow. It seems only prudent to expect Iraqi leaders to use all the weapons at their disposal if thoy perceive their situation to be desperate, either because of financial problems or general war weariness among their people.
Iraq can strike at Iran's oil exports in three ways: hitting mainland facilities that serve Khark Island; attacking Khark islandwhichercent of Iran's oil exports flow; or attacking tankers near Khark.
The first two options hold little attraction for Baghdad. Gravity would keep the oil flowing at rates well above Iran's current exportsillion barrels per day even if critical mainland facilities were knocked out.
Attacking Khark Island directly would probably result in heavy aircraft losses.
Khark is heavily defended by Hawk surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft guns. The Iranians also have fighter aircraft nearby at Bushehr Air Base. Moreover, Khark was built to exportillion barrels per day. With Iranian oil exports at lessillion barrels per day there is great redundancy in facilities on the island.
Nonetheless, Iraq has the capability on paper to inflict major damage on Khark. The Iraqis could use their fighter aircraft to seize control of the air over the island and to knock out the radars for the Hawk missiles. Iraq hasedium bombers which could be used to carpet bomb the island, smaller fighter
bombers could be assigned point targets. Iraq also hasissiles with the range to hit Khark. The Scudarhead ofounds. The missile has poor accuracy, but Icaq has sufficient missiles to permit severalissiles each) to be firedood likelihood of substantial
The simplicity and relatively low risk of using the Super Etendard with the Exocet missile make it the most likely weapon
Super Etendards and one groundmissiles hit ships. During the Iran-Iraq war, Exocets launched from Iraq's Super Frelon helicopters against merchant ships bound for Iran's northern ports have almost invariably homed in on the superstructure, inflicting damage on ship control stations, engine rooms, and crew quarters, but often not sinking the ship.
Iraq's ability to sink tankers, however, is less important than the reaction of International tanker owners to Iraqi attacks. If Iraqew sporadic attacks and then stops, we believe tankers will soon resume calling at Khark. If Iraq sustains its attacks and damages or sinks additional tankers, we
believe Iraq could virtually shut down tanker traffic to and from Khark Island.
Iran has warned that if its oil exports are significantly reduced by Iraqi attacks, it would close the Gulf and attack Gulf oil installations. Several factors, however, might incline Iran toward more restraint. Iranillion In reserves, giving it the ability to ridehort-term oil cut-off. Tehran could then put the onus for escalation on Iraq and attempt toift between Iraq and its Western and Arab supporters. Iran probably would want to avoid Western military intervention tho Gulf.
Should Iran retaliate in the Gulf it has numerous options. Iran has the capability to harass shipping in the Gulf using either its Navy or the Air Force. The Iranians could board ships or force them to go tobbas to be searched. Iranian fighter aircraft could begin low-level flights over shipping in the Gulfarning to the West that Iraq must be restrained. ^ ^
Attacks on Kuwait would warn Iraq's Gulf supporters to restrain Baghdad. Iran has attacked Kuwait several times early in the war with little international reaction. Attacks on Kuwait might not interfere with oil exports from the lower Gulf and thus would avoid Western intervention. I
Iran also has the capability to mount sabotage or commando raids against oil facilities in the lower Gulf. Iran has sympathizers in these states, at least some of whom have received
paramilitary training in Iran. The Iranians also used seaborne commandos early in the war to knock out Iraq's offshore loading platformsj Iran is capable of carrying out similar operations against the other Gulf states.
Although we estimate Iran has onlyperational fighter aircraft remaining, Iranian aircraft are based so close to Gulf oil facilities that the Gulf states could not react in time to
prevent some aircraft from penetrating Gulf air defenses. Iran could not sustain an air campaign butew airstrikes may be sufficient to stop tanker traffic to Arab Gulf ports.
Finally, Iran has the capability to blockade or mine the Strait of tformuz so long as its actions are not contested by Western navies. Iran could blockade the Strait using its three destroyers, four frigates, andissile boats. Iran also has fighter aircraft at two nearby bases to backlockade.
Iran has navalmanyrom Northcapable of laying mines randomly. An Iranianthe Strait had been mined, whether or not it waswould bring tanker trafficaltime,would require Western minesweepers to clear
That ends my presentation.Original document.