Strait of Hormuz Update
Will a massive show of force in the Persian Gulf deter Iranian plans or create more dangers? Consider these recent news items.
As a follow-up to our posts “Strait of Hormuz: A Dangerous Sea Gate Gets More Dangerous” and “Will Israel Attack Iran Before November?” here are some recent news reports to watch.
Largest naval exercise in the Middle East
International Business Times reported Sept. 17:
“The United States and its allies began their largest ever naval exercise in the Middle East on Sunday, designed to demonstrate their ability to counter a potential Iranian naval blockade of the vital [Strait] of Hormuz.
“An armada of military hardware from 25 nations, including battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines and minesweepers has descended on the Persian Gulf as Western policy makers desperately try to convince Israel that diplomacy and sanctions designed to halt Iran’s nuclear program need more time to work.
“The massive show of force has once again brought the threat of war to the region, raising the prospect Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran, which has already promised retaliation for any attacks against its nuclear facilities.”
Iran launches submarine and destroyer in the Gulf
The Jerusalem Post reported Sept. 18:
“Iran launched a submarine and a destroyer into the Gulf from Bandar Abbas port on Tuesday at the same time as US and allied navies held exercises in the same waters to practice keeping oil shipping lanes open.
“Tehran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a route for oil exports from the Gulf, if Iranian nuclear sites are attacked by Israel, which believes Tehran is trying to develop an atomic bomb. …
“Iran’s refitted Tareq-901 submarine and Sahand destroyer were launched on the direct orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the official IRNA news agency reported.
“On the other side of the country, Khamenei visited the northern coastal city of Nowshahr on Tuesday to watch naval cadets practice planting mines, freeing hijacked ships, destroying enemy vessels and jumping from helicopters, his official website said.
“‘The armed forces must reach capabilities such that no one can attack the strong fence of the country and the dear people of Iran,’ Khamenei told army commanders, according to the Iranian Students News Agency.”
U.S. buildup strives to protect the strategic Strait of Hormuz
The PBS NewsHour website reported Sept. 16:
“The Pentagon has beefed up its deployments aimed at countering Iran over the past year. This summer, the Navy doubled from four to eight the number of dedicated mine-hunting ships in the Persian Gulf. It also deployed a newly converted ship, the USS Ponce, to serve as a staging and command post for mine hunting operations. It also has kept two aircraft carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf, cutting short the home stay of one aircraft carrier in the United States in order to maintain the presence of two such vessels in the Mideast region.
“‘I think it is fair to say that the current level of U.S. military forces in the Gulf is certainly greater than would be expected simply for operations in Afghanistan,’ said Henry Boyd, a research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. ‘The recent additions all seem to be aimed at providing deterrent and-or contingency capabilities against Iran, and reassuring the United States’ existing Gulf allies.’
“Over the past year, Washington and its global partners have heightened economic sanctions on Iran in order to pressure the country to curb its nuclear development program. In response, Iran has threatened to mine the Strait of Hormuz. Iran is believed to have 2,000 to 6,000 mines of varying sophistication. …
“The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most important choke points, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Roughly 20 percent of the world’s oil passes through the narrow sea passageway. Last year, roughly 14 crude oil tankers passed through the Strait of Hormuz every day, carrying 17 million barrels of oil.
“At its narrowest point, the strait is 21 nautical miles wide. However, the two shipping channels—one for northbound traffic and the other for southbound—each measure just two miles wide and are separated by a two-mile buffer zone.”
Iran warns “nothing will remain of Israel”
The Australian reported Sept. 18:
“Tehran has warned Israel that ‘nothing will remain’ of its state if it decides to launch an attack on Iran.
“The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammad Jafari, also warned that Iran might close the Straits of Hormuz if it were attacked, withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and attack US bases in the Middle East.
“‘Our response to Israel is clear: I think nothing will remain of Israel,’ General Jafari told a news conference in Tehran.
“‘Given Israel’s small land area and its vulnerability to a massive volume of Iran’s missiles, I don’t think any spot in Israel will remain safe.’”
For a look at these events in the light of Bible prophecy, see our previous blog posts “Strait of Hormuz: A Dangerous Sea Gate Gets More Dangerous” and “Will Israel Attack Iran Before November?” and our section on the “Middle East in Bible Prophecy.”