Friday, February 11, 2005

Iran's strategic spot complicates decisions

Reuters News Service:
Iran's perch on the Strait of Hormuz, a potential choke point for Persian Gulf crude oil shipments, will complicate the Bush administration's thinking on possible action on Iran, a U.S. foreign policy think tank said Thursday.

About 40 percent of the world's crude oil exports pass through those sea lanes — a two-mile channel flanked by Iran on one side and Oman and the United Arab Emirates on the other.

Crude oil supply concerns will be at the forefront as President Bush contemplates action over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program, said experts at the Iran Policy Committee, a think tank made up of former government officials.

Iran denies that it is trying to develop nuclear arms. A U.S. military strike against Iran could rock the global economy, the policy group said.

"Any military action that causes the shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz will have an immediate and significant effect on the world economy," retired Navy captain Chuck Nash said.

The Iran Policy Committee urged the Bush administration to pursue a policy of supporting regime change in Iran rather than military action.

Iran, OPEC's second-biggest producer behind Saudi Arabia, holds about 10 percent of the world's oil reserves.

Iran has missiles on its shores along the Strait, which it used against tankers during its war with Iraq in 1980-88.

With Iran dependent on oil for its revenue, the U.S. Navy could intercept and turn back its tankers to apply more economic pressure, said Paul Vallely, a retired major general in the U.S. Army.

"Shut down their flow of oil for a few weeks, and see how they react to that," Vallely said. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a few days ago that the United States has no immediate plans to attack Iran, stressing diplomacy. ...
The statement also included praise for the MEK's intelligence inside of Iran. While the MEK's intelligence on Iran's nuclear weapons program has been vital in exposing the Iranian nuclear threat, it is important to note that the people of Iran do not support the US lifting of the state department's classification of the MEK as a terrorist organization. The MEK supported Sadddam in the Iran/Iraq war hand thus have little popular support among the Iranian public.