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31 October 2012

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b

Somewhat funny that Barak is now using that argument to explain the current stop in the Israeli scare campaign. He is about two month late.

The fact of the decreased amount of enriched UF6 in Iran were in the August 2012 IAEA report and I was, I believe, the first to write about that. Gareth Porter picked it up from there and days later even the NYT's Sanger had to acknowledge it.

The Iranians are, with few exceptions, quite smart in playing their game and they do have enough capability to do damage to the world economy to make a war very unlikely.

The recent minesweeping maneuver the U.S. and allies did in the Persian Gulf was pretty much a desaster: U.S. Navy, Allies Find Less Than Half the Sea Mines Planted in Key Exercise. No media but a NPR blog picked that up and I wonder why. Some folks in the Pentagon will be very reluctant to send their expensive bathtub toys to the Gulf knowing that the sweeper screen is likely to miss half of the bangers.

turcopolier

b

This is a renewal of the paper tiger baloney. You don't understand how this works. Your marxist instincts blind you to the evident truth that economic interests do not stop wars. Was it in Germany's economic interest to invade the USSR in 1941? Trade between the two countries blocked access routes across the Bug for hours on the first day of Barbarossa. Exercises like the anti-mine warfare one in the Gulf are used to improve technique. Next time they will do it better. "Bath tub toys?" pl

Cal

In my (decade long) observation, Israel is much more 'mad' and psychotic than the Persians.

Fred

There's nothing sexy about mine sweepers and they're probably last on the funding list. Nothing like a training exercise to show where improvements need to be made. Now if they had found 100% of them I'd be worried.

b

@Pat

- I certainly do not consider the U.S. and its military force a paper tiger. I know how much devastation it can bring over Iran. But the consequences of an attack, not only economically, would also be very bad for the U.S. standing in the world. That, not the economic impact, is the bigger concern.

- For Germany to attack the USSR in late 1941 was sheer madness. But I do not believe that the U.S. will be as crazy as the Nazi leader. I believe there are still some grown ups around in Washington DC.

- "bath tub toys" is actually the term we used in the German army to describe the tools of our navy colleges. It has absolutely nothing to do with being "anti-american" which I am not. While I may disagree on some U.S. policies I wish all the best to your country.

- The U.S. was never good at mine sweeping. As some in the navy acknowledge it is just not "sexy" enough to be a priority.
http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA390327
/quote/
The threat of mines presents a Unified Commander-in-Chief (CINC) with problems affecting the time-space-force aspects of his command. Further complicating this matter, is the U.S. Navy's inability to adequately address the mine threat problem unilaterally. History demonstrates that the U.S. Navy's inability to maintain a mine countermeasures (MCM) force sufficiently large enough and technologically advanced enough has been nominally off-set by the strengths of a combined MCM force.
/endquote/
After Gulf War I the U.S. Navy had declared certain areas in the Gulf that had been mined as cleared. German mine sweepers then checked the area and found quite a lot of mines left. That is one reason for the statement in the above paper.

Early this year the U.S. navy bought new Germany demining equipment. It was used, as far as I know, in the recent maneuver in the Gulf but they still found only half of the training mines they had dropped. It is simply a trade the U.S. navy isn't sufficiently capable to do. That should make the admirals reluctant to send $2 billion destroyers into the Gulf as they can not be sure that the area is clean.

elkern

Iran's option to mine the Staits of Hormuz and/or the Persian Gulf has less to do with the US Navy than with the oil tankers which pass through there daily. Sink one tanker, the price of gas on Earth goes way up, fast. We could still bomb Iran, but we couldn't afford to drive to Walmart the next day.

Fred

A naval ship isn't any use at all if a commander isn't will to send it into harms way - and maybe lose it and the crew - regardless of the dollar price tag of the ship.

You should have quoted the recommendations out of that paper you quote
"Expand TEPs to build on existing bilateral relationships to form multinational partnerships for MCM."

Surely if Iran tries to use mines every country that needs oil from the Persian Gulf would be willing to deploy minesweepers. Besides, can you name any country that actually won a war based on using mines?

JohnH

What this story overlooks is that Iran did exactly what it said it would do. Obama refused to sell Iran nuclear fuel for its medical reactor. Iran said, "Fine, we'll do it ourselves," which is exactly what they did. Ergo, rational actors.

The other thing that the story overlooks is that Iran believes that it doesn't matter what it does, since the Israeli/American reaction will have no relationship to positive Iranian responses.

The US and Israel are committed to the folly of yet another regime change, and their statements about Iran serve that end and nothing else.

CTuttle

Speaking of 'fanatic madmen'...

Netanyahu says strike on Iran would be good for Arabs

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/30/us-israel-iran-idUSBRE89T19120121030

DH

IIRC the colonel once said that the back-and-forth between Iran and Israel is theatre for the benefit of their respective populations.

LeaNder

Pat, if he is correct and the IAEA already knew this in August, than the bomb cartoon in September was exactly what it looked like, a mad stage show, I am tempted to call it "theatronics".

But why are they doing this? Are these simply election politics to representing the strong leader? Could it be they need both anti-Zionism/antisemitism and war? What for, just for the fun of it, to show who is the master? We and America. The arrogance of it gets more and more sickening.

One day they have to walk their talk, or America is pushed into it. This game can't be played forever.

Look to what extend Netanahu is supported mediawise with little help from Adelson in Israeli by now 31%:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_HaYom

And Haaretz, with it's constantly diminishing tiny slice offers free email books by Ari Shavit: Does this mean war, for an online subscription.

Did you look at the recent poll of Israeli attitudes? Adding this up seems to suggest the master warrior will be reelected.

This is so crazy I can't believe it, a mirage of the paranoid Nazi vision?

LeaNder

In all innocence, JohnH, but that article did not sound as if America needed to decide. Barak declares it only slightly postponed till after US and Israeli elections.

Only whatever has been achieved so far is an achievement of Israel and America, but decisions about imminent danger clearly lie not in America but in Israel. And will Romney not do what Netanyahu tells him? No? Or Adelson maybe?

Babak Makkinejad

US already had her regime change in Iran in 1953.

Walrus

Close. WHat happens is that Lloyds stops offering war risk insurance for voyages to the Gulf. That would have to be countered by government indemnity to the tanker owners. You would also need to pay war scale pay package to the tanker crews.

confusedponderer

Mines are obstacles that change the geography in favour of the defender. Ideally they are under observation and covered with fires. When used in conjunction with coastal artillery they can effectively prevent naval operations from happening, naval invasions in particular. US mine sweeping operations would then have to be conducted within range of enemy covering fires. Iran would conceivably use mines to mine the Straits of Hormuz in order to harass Arab and US shipping and in order do secure the Bandar Abbas and Queshim Island area from US landings.

If the Saudis, Qataris and the UAE are sensible they'd build pipelines bypassing the straits, just in case.

I question the good sense of the decision of having 'battleships', i.e. Arleigh Burke class destroyers, being used to do the mine sweeping mission en passant. Since counter mine operations are a perishable skill, a commander may be overtasked when having to handle them simultaneously with air defence, land attack, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.

Also, if recent experience is any indication one mine hit on such a high value ship is a mission killer. They were on Princeton and Tripoli. This is probably a lesson forgotten.

It would probably be more sensible to have a larger number of small, more agile boats. They could be robust, with fire control radar, a medium naval gun (40 to 76mm) and a RAM launcher (even a small 11 round one as the one used with SEARAM) and some cannons, and be built from non-magnetic-steel so they can take (some) damage and survive. Based on WW-II experience that may be doubly wise, since in contested waters for instance of the channel German minesweepers had to do a lot of 'littoral combat' (read: Boghammar).

Modern German mine sweepers, albeit not as heavily armed, are build to similar criteria and were to operate in the narrow waters of the Baltic where attack was expected. They are excellent boats.

And as to b's comment that the Germany Navy found numerous mines in an area the US Navy found mine free: They were operating out of Manama in Bahrein. The German navy had sent minesweepers and Seehund influence mine sweeping drones to the Gulf. The mission, 'Operation Southern Flank', was the first out-of-(NATO)-area-mission of the German armed forces.

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_S%C3%BCdflanke

The Seehund system is so successful that it was modernised and is being used with the next generation of motherships.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ensdorf_class_minesweeper

The Seafox drone the US Navy is now using was designed to meet German navy requirements that complemented the modernisation of the Seehund system. Based on their rich experience with mines (the Baltic is still not fully swept of WW-I and WW-II ordinance) the Germany Navy has always conducted mine sweeping as well as mine hunting. Most navies only to the latter.

At 'only' 100k apiece, one-shot Seafox drones are significantly cheaper than older reusable mine hunting drone systems like the PAP 104 that they are replacing. Also, systems designed to destroy mine countermeasures gear will not destroy the operational capacity of the boats when they destroy the drone as would be the case with PAP 104 drones (of which a boat usually carried 2). Unlike them, Seafox is a munition (and boats carry 20 or so) meant to be expended.

turcopolier

CP

I find it surprising that you think Iran could defeat the US in a naval and air war. pl

confusedponderer

No, no. To clarify: I don't think they could win but they could cost the US. Iran is inferior to the US but they are not a pushover. Iranian fires covering their minefields would invite retaliation from the air, which when delivered by the US would probably be devastating. But against the mines themselves, the US couldn't do that much. They, in concert with shore batteries, do impose a limit on US ability to manoeuvre ships close to Iran's coast.

Since the US is lacking in anti-mine warfare capability, I think the US would probably be compelled to de-mine the waters of the Gulf only after the end of major fighting (and/or leave it to allies). They won't risk an Arleigh Burke destroyer for sweeping mines; the cost benefit relation would be atrocious. Probably, for the duration of the fighting, the US Navy will just stay out of mine (or swarm) infested waters. Which may just work, considering US stand-off capabilities.

I also assume that the Iranians will have great difficulties targeting a US carrier battle group hiding in the Indian ocean. That's a lot of area to cover with sensors, and the Iranian ability to do that is quite limited. That will allow the US Navy to base and operate their carriers and carrier aircraft with relative impunity. Their real problem will probably be Iranian air defences.

Fred

It is a lose-lose proposition for the Iranian government as they need the oil revenue and mining the straights just creates more enemies. They were defeated by Iraq in the 1980s. They sure aren't going to do better against the US.

As to mine sweepers, the Navy has to ask congress for them. Sure we could build a flotilla for the cost of an SSN. But why? I believe the current naval strategy is to use allied forces and they have these assets. Surely nobody wants the Germans building SSNs or CVs.

b

@Fred - "You should have quoted the recommendations out of that paper you quote
"Expand TEPs to build on existing bilateral relationships to form multinational partnerships for MCM.""

The recent maneuver in the Gulf WAS in a multinational partnership. They still found only half of the training mines they had dropped.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/10/us-navy-allies-find-less-than-half-the-sea-mines-planted-in-key-exercise.html

Norbert M. Slamon

The point not addressed in the above discussion concerns the possible reaction of two members of the UN Security Council, one the second largest nuclear power [also the largest supplier of hydrocarbons to most NATO members -sans USA], one the largest or next to largest foreign owner of US treasuries [while Japan, either the largest or second largest foreign owner of USA treasuries is also dependent on Iran and Russia for most of her hydrocarbon supplies], where both oppose any war versus Iran.

I would love to hear some remarks on this subject.

Thnk you.

Fred

Room for improvement. When was the last multinational training exercise? What percentage of mines did they find then? What's the average over multiple exercises - assuming there have been multiple exercises.

elkern

Technically, yes, that's how economics (and politics) is supposed to spread risk. But the price of oil/gasoline is largely driven by speculators. When/if a tanker hits a mine, they'll s**t bricks of pure gold - and we'll bear the cost.

Babak Makkinejad

They would do nothing of substance but they would do it very very loudly.

Babak Makkinejad

You wrote:

"If the Saudis, Qataris and the UAE are sensible they'd build pipelines bypassing the straits, just in case."

They are doing that already.

But your view, as implied by your statement, is one that cares not one whit about the Arabs - as though the only thing that matters is oil.

You evidently do not care that Arabs are dependent on an enormous amount of foreign imports to sustain their populations: food, medicine, construction materials, spare parts, persihables, etc.

Those items are also transhipped into the Persian Gulf through the Straits of Hormuz.

If Arabs of Southern Persian Gulf were sensible they would change the name of GCC to Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and invite both Iran and Iraq to join.

But they are not sensible, just plain stupid.

Babak Makkinejad

That is correct.

Why EU, financially in dire straits, is waging an economic war against Iran cannot be explained in that manner; just what is the logic of sanctioning your customer who also is your supplier?

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