[Marxism] Iran's War Games and Diplomacy

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Sun Aug 27 12:14:55 MDT 2006


You've heard of Iran's test-firing of new submarine-to-surface
missiles.  According to Bloomberg, "[a]bout 17 million barrels a day
of oil, or 20 percent of the world's consumption, flows from the
Persian Gulf region through the Strait of Hormuz, the only sea route
through which oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other oil producing
countries can be transported" (Trisha Huang and Gavin Evans, "Crude
Oil Trades Near Four-Day High as Iran Defies UN Demand," 22 August
2006, <http://www.jamestown.org/news_details.php?news_id=165>).
Tehran needs to make sure that everyone in the world understands that
it can disrupt the oil supply shipped through the Strait of Hormuz.
Add it to the war games practicing a new asymmetric warfare doctrine
(cf.
<http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/pipermail/lbo-talk/Week-of-Mon-20060821/044588.html>),
and that's as good a message Tehran can send to the rest of the world,
in addition to being actual military preparation.

<blockquote><http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/08/27/iran.missile.reut/>
Iran test fires long-range missile

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Iran test fired a long-range, radar-evading
missile on Sunday from a submarine in the Gulf as part of war games
that began earlier this month, state television reported.

The missile was called Sagheb, which means Piercing, but the report
did not give the missile's range.

"Minutes ago it was launched from a submarine in the Persian Gulf and
it hit the target," television reported.

Western nations have been watching developments in Iran's missile
capabilities with concern amid a standoff over the country's nuclear
program, which the West says is aimed at building atomic bombs. Iran
says the program is only civilian.

Iran's military also held war games in the Gulf in April. Those
exercises were interpreted by analysts as a thinly veiled threat that
Iran could disrupt vital oil shipping lanes if pushed by an escalation
in the nuclear dispute.

A navy admiral, named only as Kouchaki, told state television the
missile had been designed and produced in Iran.

"It can be installed and launched by Iran's navy. It is a long-range
missile, with a very high speed and destructive power. It is also
radar evading," he said.

The Islamic Republic has three aging Kilo class diesel-electric
Russian submarines and also builds midget submarines. The Sagheb is
listed as an air defense missile by the Nuclear Threat Initiative Web
site (www.nti.org).

Military analysts say Iran often exaggerates its abilities, They argue
that its military equipment is outmoded and that new missiles Iran
claims to have produced are often modified versions from other
countries such as North Korea.

But they also say Iranian forces could, if pushed, cause havoc in
shipping lanes in the Gulf, even if they would be no match in any
conventional confrontation with the high-tech forces of the U.S. and
other navies operating in the area.</blockquote>

<blockquote><http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20060827-0652-iran-missile.html>
Iran test-fires a new submarine-to-surface missile in Persian Gulf
By Ali Akbar Dareini
ASSOCIATED PRESS
6:52 a.m. August 27, 2006

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran test fired a new submarine-to-surface missile
during war games in the Persian Gulf on Sunday, a show of military
might amid a standoff with the West over its nuclear activities.

A brief video clip showed the long-range missile, called Thaqeb, or
Saturn, exiting the water and hitting a target on the water's surface
within less than a mile. The test came as part of large-scale military
exercises that began Aug. 19.

"The army successfully test fired a top speed long-range
sub-to-surface missile off the Persian Gulf," the navy commander, Gen.
Sajjad Kouchaki, said on state-run television.

Iran routinely has held war games over the past two decades to improve
its combat readiness and to test equipment including missiles, tanks
and armored personnel carriers.

But Sunday's firing of the missile came as Iran remains defiant just
five days before a deadline imposed by the U.N. Security Council for
Tehran to suspend the enrichment of uranium, which can produce both
reactor fuel and material usable in nuclear warheads.

Iran said last week it is open to negotiations but it refused any
immediate suspension, calling the deadline illegal.

Tehran has expressed worry about Israeli threats to destroy its
nuclear facilities, which the West contends could be used to make a
bomb but which Iran insists are for the peaceful purpose of generating
electricity. The Islamic country also is concerned about the U.S.
military presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an advance for Iran's weapons industry, the Thaqeb is the country's
first sub-fired missile that leaves the water to strike its target,
adding to the country's repertoire of weapons that can hit ships in
the Gulf.

Iran's current arsenal includes several types of torpedoes – including
the "Hoot," Farsi for "whale," which was tested for the first time in
April, capable of moving at some 223 mph, up to four times faster than
a normal torpedo.

Kouchaki said the Thaqeb could be fired from any vessel and could
escape enemy radar. He said it was built based on domestic know-how,
although outside experts say much of the country's missile technology
originated from other countries like Russia and China.

He did not give the weapon's range. It did not appear capable of
carrying a nuclear warhead.

Iran already is equipped with the Shahab-3 missile, which means
"shooting star" in Farsi, and is capable of carrying a nuclear
warhead. An upgraded version of the ballistic missile has a range of
more than 1,200 miles and can reach Israel and U.S. forces in the
Middle East.

Last year, former Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said Tehran
successfully had tested a solid fuel motor for the Shahab-3, which was
considered a technological breakthrough for the country's military.

Solid fuel dramatically increases the accuracy of a missile while a
liquid fuel missile is not very accurate in hitting targets.

Iran's military test-fired a series of missiles during large-scale war
games in the Persian Gulf in March and April, including a missile it
claimed was not detectable by radar and can use multiple warheads to
hit several targets simultaneously.

After decades of relying on foreign weapons purchases, Iran's military
has been working to boost its domestic production of armaments.

Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel
carriers, missiles and a fighter plane, the government has said. It
announced in early 2005 that it had begun production of
torpedoes.</blockquote>

Tehran has thoughtfully combined the military message with diplomacy
(centering on retaining the protection of Moscow and Beijing, support
of the NAM, the OAS, Latin socialist leaders, etc.,  and sending
Khatami to the USA
[see <http://www.livingchurch.org/publishertlc/viewarticle.asp?ID=2443> and
<http://www.payvand.com/news/06/aug/1283.html>]).

All in all, the Iranian leaders are very smart people, and they have
played their cards, while the oil prices are high and Washington is
stuck in Iraq, as well as they can.

All Iranians understand that a hard bargain Tehran has driven under
the Ahmadinejad administration has so far paid off better than what
the Khatami administration managed to extract from the Europeans:

<blockquote>[D]espite Iran's leverage on the international energy
market, current vogue on the Arab street and capacity to wreak havoc
in Iraq and the Middle East at large via the Shi'ite militia alliance
of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Syria, analysts say Iran wants
to avoid an open conflict. Instead, Tehran "thinks [it] has a strong
hand and wants to push for the maximum" in its nuclear negotiations,
Vali Nasr, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told
Asia Times Online. "The West responds better to an intransigent Iran."

Nasr noted that Iran has internalized the rewards of its experience in
driving a hard bargain. Under former president Mohammad Khatami, a
leader far more conciliatory than Ahmadinejad, the European Union-3
(Britain, France and Germany) offered a less generous incentives
package predicated on a guaranteed supply of fuel for civilian
reactors provided they were under full supervision of the UN nuclear
watchdog. In June, after years of cat-and-mouse with the West, six
industrial powers extended a sweeter offer, with further trade
advantages and security guarantees, to a radical president with
messianic tendencies who has hinted at the destruction of Israel.
(Jason Motlagh, "Iran's 'Crisis' of Overconfidence," 26 August 2006,
<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HH26Ak02.html>)</blockquote>

I dearly hope that Moscow and Beijing will stay the course and
continue to block sanctions.

-- 
Yoshie
<http://montages.blogspot.com/>
<http://mrzine.org>
<http://monthlyreview.org/>




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