Iran begins naval drills in Strait of Hormuz

Al-Jazeera
December 26, 2011

Iran’s navy has started a 10-day drill in international waters near the strategic oil route that passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The exercises, dubbed “Velayat 90”, could bring Iranian ships into proximity with United States Navy vessels in the area. “Velayat” is a Persian word for “supremacy” and it is currently used as a title of deference for the Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The war games cover a 2,000km stretch of sea off the Strait of Hormuz, northern parts of the Indian Ocean and into the Gulf of Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea, state television reported.

The drill will be Iran’s latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its controversial nuclear programme, which the West fears is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Tehran denies those charges, insisting the program is for peaceful purposes only.

Adm Habibollah Sayyari, the navy chief, said Iran is holding the drill to show off its prowess and defense capabilities.

“To show off its might, the navy needs to be present in international waters. It’s necessary to demonstrate the navy’s defense capabilities,” state TV quoted Sayyari as saying.

Sayyari said submarines, surface-to-sea missile systems, missile-launching vessels, torpedoes and drones will be employed in the maneuvers.

Strategic waterway

The Strait of Hormuz is of strategic significance as the passageway for about a third of the world’s oil tanker traffic. Beyond it lie vast bodies of water, including the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet is also active in the area, as are warships of several other countries that patrol for pirates there.

Iran regularly holds war games and has also been active in fighting piracy. Both the US and Israel have not ruled out a military option against Iran over its nuclear program.

Iranian hard-liners have come out with occasional threats that Tehran would seal off the key waterway if the US or Israel moved against the country’s nuclear facilities.

Iranian authorities have given no indication the strait will be closed during the exercise, and it has not been shut during previous drills.

The US, Britain and Canada announced new measures against Iran’s energy and financial sectors last month and the European Union is considering a ban, already in place in the US, on imports of Iranian oil.

Obama Threatens to Nuclear Bomb Iran

Global Research

“This confrontation [between the forces of the Apocalypse and Israel] is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict toAttack on Iran erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”. U.S. President George W. Bush (in a 2003 conversation with French President Jacques Chirac)

“Preventive war was an invention of [Adolf] Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“We don’t desire any nuclear proliferation in our region, and our policy is well known regardless of which country has such programs. For us it doesn’t matter whether it is Israel or Iran. I will call on the international community, which is so sensitive toward Iran, to pay attention to Israel, too.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister

“Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.”

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

By now, most everybody knows that the (2003-) Bush-Cheney Iraq War was based on fiction [http://news.antiwar.com/2009/08/10/elbaradei-regrets-not-doing-more-to-stop-iraq-war/] and on deception [http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/03/07/22_lies.html]. There was no such thing as “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, the rationale for an illegal attack against that country. And Bush II and his accomplices knew that.

But incredibly, just as the Bush-Cheney administration did in order to launch a war against Iraq in 2003 by (falsely) alleging that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Obama-Biden administration, in 2010, is arguing for unilateral sanctions against Iran and even beating the drums of war against Iran, alleging that its program to enrich uranium and operate nuclear power plants is posing an existential threat to Israel, to Europe and to the United States.

Besides being a blatant exaggeration, this is nevertheless most dangerous. Indeed, such an eventual military attack–which, by the way, would be illegal under international law–would also have dire economic consequences, because it would almost certainly result in the closing of the narrow Strait of Hormuz. Should we be reminded that it is through this strait that roughly 40 percent of all world traded oil transits out of the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. Its closing would push the international oil price to unheard of levels.

Therefore, if the pro-Israel lobby and the pro-war neocon press [http://news.antiwar.com/2010/04/29/neocon-press-slams-obama-as-trying-to-soften-iran-sanctions/] were to succeed in 2010-11 in triggering a hot war against Iran, as they did in 2002-03 against Iraq, this could easily turn the current festering financial crisis into a full-fledged worldwide economic depression. Believe me, the last thing the world economy needs now is an oil-shock that would derail the present feeble economic recovery.

But the most disconcerting of all is no doubt the implicit threat recently made by President Barack Obama, on Tuesday, April 6, 2010, to launch a nuclear attack [http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18620] against Iran and North Korea if these countries refuse to toe Washington’s line. That sort of loose language is most dangerous because it may serve to trivialize the military use of nuclear weapons, a disaster that the world must avoid. The round of pronouncements demonizing Iran and the incessant calls for sanctions [http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=23134] against a sovereign country by other U.S. politicians is also most unproductive, even though that may make for good domestic politics.

This is of course in addition to the use of unmanned drones to drop bombs on civilians in Pakistan and other American death squad activities [http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25346.htm] in Afghanistan that the Obama administration has intensified since gaining power. There seems to be a pattern here: No law or moral decency seem to be taken into consideration when such decisions, most likely illegal, [http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25344.htm] are taken, no matter who is in power in Washington D.C.

It is true that Iran’s domestic politics is not without reproach. This is a country that is run by a mixture of democratic and theocratic rules. However, compared to fundamentalist Islamic Saudi Arabia, Iran is somewhat more democratic and less oppressive of women, even though it does not satisfy all the Western criteria to be a true democratic state. But we don’t declare war on a country because we don’t like its domestic politics. That’s not what the U.N. Charter [http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/] or the Nuremberg Charter, [http://home.earthlink.net/~platter/nuremberg/charter.html] says.

Logic would have it that all the nuclear countries in that part of the world (Israel, Pakistan, India,) sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), [http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=124679&sectionid=351020502] just as Iran has done, because an accidental, or worse, an intentional or provoked, use of nuclear weapons is the greatest threat to the region and to the world. In the long-run, however, the world needs a new and expanded nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) to prevent nuclear war but, at the same time, to make sure that no country is denied access to nuclear energy that can enhance its economic development. Every country in the world has a right to enrich uranium and operate nuclear power plants.

Rodrigue Tremblay http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/author.htm is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached atrodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com.
He is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics” at:http://www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/