Commander: Iranian Navy, IRGC in Full Control of US Warships

Thu May 23, 2019 5:22

Commander: Iranian Navy, IRGC in Full Control of US Warships

Commander: Iranian Navy, IRGC in Full Control of US Warships

TEHRAN (FNA)- Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General Ali Fadavi underlined that IRGC naval forces are watchfully monitoring the moves made by the US warships deployed in the Persian Gulf.

“In the last several years, our forces have acquired full control of the Persian Gulf in a way that they (US warships) should get permission from us for their movements in this area,” Rear Admiral Fadavi said on Wednesday.

“Everything in North of the Strait of Hormuz is under our control,” he emphasized, referring to a major oil shipping waterway which connects the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman.

Rear Admiral Fadavi stressed that the American navy ships “cannot approach the waters that fall within our mare clausum”.

The crew members of these warships, he said, are even required to know Persian language and there are always interpreters aboard the ships, adding, “This means power.”

In relevant remarks earlier this month, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi played down the “theatrical and useless” presence of the US aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, stressing Iran’s preparedness to defend the country against any warmongering.

“Today, speaking of the dispatch of aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf is nothing new and they are attempting to magnify the shadow of war,” Rear Admiral Khanzadi said in the Southern city of Bandar Abbas.

“Their presence in the region is theatrical and useless,” he underlined.

Rear Admiral Khanzadi reiterated the Iranian Armed Forces’ full preparedness to defend the country’s borders against any threats.

He also addressed the Persian Gulf littoral states, saying, “The presence of Americans in the Persian Gulf region has come to an end and they should leave the region and those countries which have pinned hope on such present powers as the Americans should fill this vacuum.”

Rear Admiral Khanzadi underscored that the only way to fill this vacuum was regional cooperation and creating desirable trends to increase the regional power, adding, “This will happen in the near future and there is no doubt about it.”

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Resistance report – US threats against Tehran will never break the Islamic Republic

May 18, 2019

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

Resistance report – US threats against Tehran will never break the Islamic Republic

Tensions are reaching critical levels as Washington continues to threaten Iran while the madmen Bolton and Pompeo are growing bolder by the day. It seems as if the White House fool Trump has given up on foreign policy altogether and allowed Bolton and Pompeo to have free reigns on pushing Washington further into the abyss.

Bolton has reportedly requested 120 000 troops to be sent to the Middle East, about the same number of troops sent for the tragic Iraq war. This would in his mind show the Iranians who’s in charge, I guess. We’re talking about a country with a population of 80 million people, thrice the size of Iraq and a military that has been preparing for a war with the Zionist Empire for decades.

Who does Bolton think he’s scaring? I would say that Tehran’s reaction to these threats are met with a confidence that Washington is merely bluffing the whole thing. Earlier this week, Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled out the possibility of war between the United States and Iran, saying that it would not be in Washington’s interest to start such a war.
“The Iranian nation’s definite option will be resistance in the face of the US, and in this confrontation, the US would be forced into a retreat,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “Neither we nor they, who know war will not be in their interest, are after war.”

Ayatollah Khamenei further explained that the confrontation between the two sides is “a clash of wills,” asserting that Iran would be the ultimate victor of this battle. It is an interesting way of seeing this situation, as Khamenei correctly asserts that this is truly about willpower. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, beginning last year with Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, is aimed at bringing the Islamic Republic to its knees, getting Tehran to return to the negotiation table. Trump has made it no secret that he wishes to renegotiate the nuclear deal to include Iran’s ballistic missiles program. He and many other Zionists, including the Zionist chieftain in Tel Aviv criticized the JCPOA on the basis that Iran’s ballistic missiles were still deemed a threat to “global peace”. Why? Because they know fully well that these missiles can reach Tel Aviv at any time, and there’s not a damn thing that the so called “Iron dome” could do to stop them. Since Trump is a political illiterate and can’t distinguish between an Arab and an Iranian or a Turk, he believes that sanctions and threats will make Iranian politicians run to the negotiation table, as he so boldly himself claimed, he’s “waiting by the phone for Tehran to call”.

Bolton on the other hand, having been in the game for many years, knows that Iran won’t budge. He has seen Tehran withstand all kinds of attacks and threats before, he knows that Iran fully relies on its resistance economy, and he is very much aware that internal regime change won’t happen as the Islamic Republic enjoys a broad support inside Iran. Instead, he sees his chance to finally start a war with the Islamic Republic and ultimately hoping to destroy the threat posed to his masters in Tel Aviv. Bolton is counting on Trump’s weak ego, that instead of backing down, he will double down and start a war to save face.

It seems that much of the IRGC and conservative political leadership in Tehran are viewing the situations the same way as the Supreme Leader is, they simply don’t believe that Washington is willing to go to war as Washington is fully aware that the Islamic Republic is capable of causing a lot of damage on not only US forces, but the entire region. Only yesterday, the deputy head of the IRGC said with confidence that “even our short-range missiles can easily reach U.S warships in the Persian Gulf”. On the other hand, the same deputy head of the IRGC took a shot at President Rouhani’s allies who have been calling for a “pragmatic approach” to meet these threats, ”the Western-leaning tendencies of this country raises a war versus talks dilemma, and is trying to impose new nuclear deals on the country”. It is no secret that the failure of the JCPOA and the growing threats coming from Washington have weakened the Rouhani government and given the so called “hardliners” the upper hand as the “pragmatic approach” by the “Reformists” have proven to show Iran as weak in face of Zionist animosity. As many Iranians are feeling betrayed by Washington and the Rouhani government’s promises of eased sanctions, “hardliners” are feeling more emboldened to pressure the President to completely abandon the deal, this seems to have at least in part, affected the government’s recent decision to suspend the implementation of some parts of the JCPOA.

So what are the “hardliners” hoping for instead? As I mentioned before, they don’t believe that Washington actually wants war, not only do they understand that Washington knows the costs of such a war and is not willing to take it, but they are also aware of Trump’s hopes for a renegotiation of the deal. Trump’s recent denial of the proposed plan of sending 120 000 troops to the Middle East, and the recent reports that Trump has apparently said that he does not want a war has boosted the “hardliners” confidence that there might indeed be a wedge between Trump and Bolton. Rumour have reached Tehran that Trump has grown tired with Bolton’s insane approach. Yes, it is risky to rely on the unpredictable nature of the White House fool, but with Trump crippling the Iranian economy, Tehran faces growing domestic pressure, with the risk of a larger internal conflict erupting, so countering these US threats with threats of their own, seems to be the best way to get Trump to back off, as he did with North Korea. With any luck, Trump gets tired of Bolton’s hawkish approach and fires him, and if not, the Islamic Republic is and has been ready for decades for a US attack on Iran. Washington’s threats will never get the Islamic Republic to back down on its independence and self-respect.

Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross posted with Consortium News

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

The Trump administration unilaterally cheated on the 2015 multinational, UN-endorsed JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. It has imposed an illegal, worldwide financial and energy blockade on all forms of trade with Iran — from oil and gas to exports of iron, steel, aluminum and copper. For all practical purposes, and in any geopolitical scenario, this is a declaration of war.

Successive U.S. governments have ripped international law to shreds; ditching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is only the latest instance. It doesn’t matter that Tehran has fulfilled all its commitments to the deal — according to UN inspectors. Once the leadership in Tehran concluded that the U.S. sanctions tsunami is fiercer than ever, it decided to begin partially withdrawing from the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani was adamant: Iran has not left the JCPOA — yet. Tehran’s measures are legal under the framework of articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA — and European officials were informed in advance. But it’s clear the EU3 (Germany, France, Britain), who have always insisted on their vocal support for the JCPOA, must work seriously to alleviate the U.S.-provoked economic disaster to Iran if Tehran has any incentive to continue to abide by the agreement.

Protests in front of former U.S. embassy in Tehran after U.S. decision to withdraw from JCPOA, May 8, 2018. (Hossein Mersadi via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia and China — the pillars of Eurasia integration, to which Iran adheres — support Tehran’s position. This was discussed extensively in Moscow by Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Javad Zarif, perhaps the world’s top two foreign ministers.

At the same time, it’s politically naïve to believe the Europeans will suddenly grow a backbone.

The comfortable assumption in Berlin, Paris and London was that Tehran could not afford to leave the JCPOA even if it was not receiving any of the economic rewards promised in 2015. Yet now the EU3 are facing the hour of truth.

It’s hard to expect anything meaningful coming from an enfeebled Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Berlin already targeted by Washington’s trade ire; a Brexit-paralyzed Britain; and a massively unpopular President Emmanuel Macron in France already threatening to impose his own sanctions if Tehran does not agree to limit its ballistic missile program. Tehran will never allow inspections over its thriving missile industry – and this was never part of the JCPOA to begin with.

As it stands, the EU3 are not buying Iranian oil. They are meekly abiding by the U.S. banking and oil/gas sanctions — which are now extended to manufacturing sectors — and doing nothing to protect Iran from its nasty effects. The implementation of INSTEX, the SWIFT alternative for trade with Iran, is languishing. Besides expressing lame “regrets” about the U.S. sanctions, the EU3 are de facto playing the game on the side of U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates; and by extension against Russia, China and Iran.

Rise of the Imperial Psychos

As Tehran de facto kicked the ball to the European court, both EU3 options are dire. To meaningfully defend the JCPOA will invite a ballistic reaction from the Trump administration. To behave like poodles — the most probable course of action — means emboldening even more the psychopaths doubling as imperial functionaries bent on a hot war against Iran at all costs; Koch brothers Big Oil asset and enraptured evangelist, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and paid Mujahideen-e Khalq asset and notorious intel manipulator, National Security Advisor John Bolton.

The Pompeo-Bolton gangster maneuver is hardly Bismarck’s Realpolitik. It consists of relentlessly pushing Tehran to make a mistake, any mistake, in terms of “violating” its obligations under the JCPOA, so that this may be sold to gullible American public opinion as the proverbial “threat” to the “rules-based order” doubling as a casus belli.

There’s one thing the no-holds-barred U.S. economic war against Iran has managed to achieve: internal unity in the Islamic Republic. Team Rouhani’s initial aim for the JCPOA was to open up to Western trade (trade with Asia was always on) and somewhat curtail the power of the IRGC, or Revolutionary Guards, which control vast sectors of the Iranian economy.

Washington’s economic war proved instead the IRGC was right all along, echoing the finely-tuned geopolitical sentiment of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who always emphasized the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

And as much as Washington has branded the IRGC a “terrorist organization,” Tehran replied in kind, branding CENTCOM the same.

Independent Persian Gulf oil traders dismiss the notion that the kleptocrat House of Saud — de facto run by Jared “of Arabia” Kushner’s Whatsapp pal Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the Saudi  crown prince – holds up to 2.5 million barrels of oil a day in spare capacity capable of replacing Iran’s 2 million barrels of exports (out of 3.45 million of total daily production). The House of Saud seems more interested in hiking oil prices for Asian customers.

London protests at Saudi bombing of Yemen. March 2018. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

Faulty Blockade

Washington’s energy trade blockade of Iran is bound to fail.

China will continue to buy its 650,000 barrels a day – and may even buy more. Multiple Chinese companies trade technology and industrial services for Iranian oil.

Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey — all bordering Iran — will continue to buy Iranian high-quality light crude by every method of payment (including gold) and transportation available, formal or informal. Baghdad’s trade relationship with Tehran will continue to thrive.

As economic suffocation won’t suffice, Plan B is — what else — the threat of a hot war.

It’s by now established that the info, in fact rumors, about alleged Iranian maneuvers to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf was relayed to Bolton by the Mossad, at the White House, with Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat personally briefing Bolton.

Everyone is aware of the corollary: a “reposition of assets” (in Pentagonese) — from the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group deployment to four B-52 bombers landing in Al Udeid Air base in Qatar, all part of a “warning” to Iran.

A pre-war roaring crescendo now engulfs the Lebanese front as well as the Iranian front.

Reasons for Psychotic Rage

Iran’s GDP is similar to Thailand’s, and its military budget is similar to Singapore’s. Bullying Iran is a geopolitical and geo-economic absurdity. Iran may be an emerging Global South actor — it could easily be a member of the G20 — but can never be construed as a “threat” to the U.S.

Yet Iran provokes psychopathic imperial functionaries to a paroxysm of rage for three serious reasons. Neocons never mind that trying to destroy Iraq cost over $6 trillion — and it was a major war crime, a political disaster, and an economic abyss all rolled into one. Trying to destroy Iran will cost untold trillions more.

The most glaring reason for the irrational hatred is the fact the Islamic Republic is one of the very few nations on the planet consistently defying the hegemon — for four decades now.

The second reason is that Iran, just like Venezuela — and this is a combined war front — have committed the supreme anathema; trading on energy bypassing the petrodollar, the foundation stone of U.S. hegemony.

The third (invisible) reason is that to attack Iran is to disable emerging Eurasia integration, just like using NSA spying to ultimately put Brazil in the bag was an attack on Latin American integration.

The non-stop hysteria over whether President Donald Trump is being maneuvered into war on Iran by his pet psychopaths – well, he actually directed Iran to “Call me” — eludes the Big Picture. As shown before, a possible shut down of the Strait of Hormuz, whatever the reasons, would be like a major meteor impact on the global economy. And that would inevitably translate as no Trump reelection in 2020.

The Strait of Hormuz would never need to be blocked if all the oil Iran is able to export is bought by China, other Asian clients and even Russia — which could relabel it. But Tehran wouldn’t blink on blocking Hormuz if faced with total economic strangulation.

According to a dissident U.S. intel expert, “the United States is at a clear disadvantage in that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut the U.S. collapses. But if the U.S. can divert Russia from defending Iran, then Iran can be attacked and Russia will have accomplished nothing, as the neocons do not want detente with Russia and China. Trump does want detente but the Deep State does not intend to permit it.”

Assuming this scenario is correct, the usual suspects in the United States government are trying to divert Putin from the Strait of Hormuz question while keeping Trump weakened, as the neocons proceed 24/7 on the business of strangling Iran. It’s hard to see Putin falling for this not exactly elaborate trap.

Not Bluffing

So what happens next? Professor Mohammad Marandi at the Faculty of World Studies of the University of Tehran offers quite a sobering perspective: “After 60 days Iran will push things even further. I don’t think the Iranians are bluffing. They will also be pushing back at the Saudis and the Emiratis by different means.”

Marandi, ominously, sees “further escalation” ahead:

“Iranians have been preparing for war with the Unites States ever since the Iraq invasion in 2003. After what they’ve seen in Libya, in Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, they know that the Americans and Europeans are utterly brutal. The whole shore of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side and the Gulf of Oman is full of tunnels and underground high-tech missiles. The Persian Gulf is full of ships equipped with highly developed sea-to-sea missiles. If there is real war, all the oil and gas facilities in the region will be destroyed, all the tankers will be destroyed.”

And if that show comes to pass, Marandi regards the Strait of Hormuz as the “sideshow”:

“The Americans will be driven out of Iraq. Iraq exports 4 million barrels of oil a day; that would probably come to an end, through strikes and other means. It would be catastrophic for the Americans. It would be catastrophic for the world – and for Iran as well. But the Americans would simply not win.”

So as Marandi explains it — and Iranian public opinion now largely agrees — the Islamic Republic has leverage because they know “the Americans can’t afford to go to war. Crazies like Pompeo and Bolton may want it, but many in the establishment don’t.”

Tehran may have developed a modified MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) framework as leverage, mostly to push Trump ally MbS to cool down. “Assuming,” adds Marandi, “the madmen don’t get the upper hand, and if they do, then it’s war. But for the time being, I thinks that’s highly unlikely.”

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits Strait of Hormuz, May 2012. (U.S. Navy/Alex R. Forster)

All Options on the Table?

In Cold War 2.0 terms, from Central Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean and from the Indian Ocean to the Caspian Sea, Tehran is able to count on quite a set of formal and informal alliances. That not only centers on the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran-Herat axis, but also includes Turkey and Qatar. And most important of all, the top actors on the Eurasian integration chessboard: the Russia and China in strategic partnership.

When Zarif met Lavrov last week in Moscow, they discussed virtually everything: Syria (they negotiate together in the Astana, now Nur-Sultan process), the Caspian, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (of which Iran will become a member), the JCPOA and Venezuela.

The Trump administration was dragged kicking and screaming to meet Kim Jong-Un at the same table because of the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests. And then Kim ordered extra missile tests because, in his own words, as quoted by KCNA, “genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty.”

Global South Watching

The overwhelming majority of Global South nations are watching the U.S. neocon offensive to ultimately strangle “the Iranian people”, aware more than ever that Iran may be bullied to extinction because it does not posses a nuclear deterrent. The IRGC has reached the same conclusion.

That would mean the death of the JCPOA – and the Return of the Living Dead of “all options on the table.”

But then, there’ll be twists and turns in the Art of the (Demented) Deal. So what if, and it’s a major “if”, Donald Trump is being held hostage by his pet psychopaths?

Let The Dealer speak:

“We hope we don’t have to do anything with regard to the use of military force…We can make a deal, a fair deal. … We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons. Not too much to ask. And we would help put them back into great shape. They’re in bad shape right now. I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran. We’re not looking to hurt Iran. I want them to be strong and great and have a great economy… We have no secrets. And they can be very, very strong, financially. They have great potential.”

Then again, Ayatollah Khamenei said: the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War

By Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes – NYT

At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting War Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said.

The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

It is highly uncertain whether Trump, who has sought to disentangle the United States from Afghanistan and Syria, ultimately would send so many American forces back to the Middle East.

It is also unclear whether the president has been briefed on the number of troops or other details in the plans. On Monday, asked about if he was seeking regime change in Iran, Trump said: “We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”

There are sharp divisions in the administration over how to respond to Iran at a time when tensions are rising about Iran’s nuclear policy and its intentions in the Middle East.

Some senior American officials said the plans, even at a very preliminary stage, show how dangerous the threat from Iran has become. Others, who are urging a diplomatic resolution to the current tensions, said it amounts to a scare tactic to warn Iran against new aggressions.

European allies who met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said that they worry that tensions between Washington and Tehran could boil over, possibly inadvertently.

More than a half-dozen American national security officials who have been briefed on details of the updated plans agreed to discuss them with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. Spokesmen for Shanahan and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to comment.

The size of the force involved has shocked some who have been briefed on them. The 120,000 troops would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003.

Deploying such a robust air, land and naval force would give Tehran more targets to strike, and potentially more reason to do so, risking entangling the United States in a drawn out conflict. It also would reverse years of retrenching by the American military in the Middle East that began with President Barack Obama’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011.

But two of the American national security officials said Trump’s announced drawdown in December of American forces in Syria, and the diminished naval presence in the region, appear to have emboldened some leaders in Tehran and convinced the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that the United States has no appetite for a fight with Iran.

Several oil tankers were reportedly attacked or sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, raising fears that shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf could become flash points. “It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens,” Mr. Trump said on Monday, asked about the episode.

Emirati officials are investigating the apparent sabotage, and American officials suspect that Iran was involved. Several officials cautioned, however, that there is not yet any definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the reported attacks. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman called it a “regretful incident,” according to a state news agency.

In Brussels, Pompeo met with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, cosignatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as well as with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. He did not speak to the media, but the European officials said they had urged restraint upon Washington, fearing accidental escalation that could lead to conflict with Iran.

“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side,” said Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary.

The Iranian government has not threatened violence recently, but last week, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would walk away from parts of the 2015 nuclear deal it reached with world powers. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement a year ago, but European nations have urged Iran to stick with the deal and ignore Trump’s provocations.

The high-level review of the Pentagon’s plans was presented during a meeting about broader Iran policy. It was held days after what the Trump administration described, without evidence, as new intelligence indicating that Iran was mobilizing proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack American forces.

As a precaution, the Pentagon has moved an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers, a Patriot missile interceptor battery and more naval firepower to the gulf region.

At last week’s meeting, Shanahan gave an overview of the Pentagon’s planning, then turned to General Dunford to detail various force options, officials said. The uppermost option called for deploying 120,000 troops, which would take weeks or months to complete.

Among those attending Thursday’s meeting were Shanahan; Bolton; General Dunford; Gina Haspel, the CIA director; and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.

“The president has been clear, the United States does not seek military conflict with Iran, and he is open to talks with Iranian leadership,” Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, said Monday in an email. “However, Iran’s default option for 40 years has been violence, and we are ready to defend US personnel and interests in the region.”

The reduction of forces in the Middle East in recent years has been propelled by a new focus on China, Russia and a so-called Great Powers competition. The most recent National Military Strategy — released before Bolton joined the Trump administration — concluded that while the Middle East remains important, and Iran is a threat to American allies, the United States must do more to ensure a rising China does not upend the world order.

As recently as late April, an American intelligence analysis indicated that Iran had no short-term desire to provoke a conflict…

On May 5, Bolton announced the first of new deployments to the Persian Gulf, including bombers and an aircraft carrier.

It is not clear to American intelligence officials what changed Iran’s posture. But intelligence and War Department officials said American sanctions have been working better than originally expected, proving far more crippling to the Iranian economy — especially after a clampdown on all oil exports that was announced last month.

Also in April, the State Department designated the Revolutionary Guards a foreign ‘terrorist’ organization over objections from Pentagon and intelligence officials who feared reprisals from the Iranian military.

While much of the new intelligence appears to have focused on ‘Iran readying its proxy forces’, officials said they believed the most likely cause of a conflict will follow a provocative act, or outright attack, by the Revolutionary Guards’ navy. The Guards’ fleet of small boats has a history of approaching American Navy ships at high speed. Revolutionary Guards commanders have precarious control over their ill-disciplined naval forces.

Part of the updated planning appears to focus on what military action the United States might take if Iran resumes its nuclear fuel production, which has been frozen under the 2015 agreement. It would be difficult for the Trump administration to make a case that the United States was under imminent nuclear peril; Iran shipped 97 percent of its fuel out of the country in 2016, and currently does not have enough to make a bomb.

That could change if Iran resumes enriching uranium. But it would take a year or more to build up a significant quantity of material, and longer to fashion it into a weapon. That would allow, at least in theory, plenty of time for the United States to develop a response — like a further cutoff of oil revenues, covert action or military strikes.

The previous version of the Pentagon’s war plan included a classified subset code-named Nitro Zeus, a cyber operation that called for unplugging Iran’s major cities, its power grid and its military.

The idea was to use cyber weapons to paralyze Iran in the opening hours of any conflict, in hopes that it would obviate the need to drop any bombs or conduct a traditional attack. That plan required extensive presence inside Iran’s networks — called “implants” or “beacons” — that would pave the way for injecting destabilizing malware into Iranian systems.

Two officials said those plans have been constantly updated in recent years.

But even a cyberattack, without dropping bombs, carries significant risk. Iran has built up a major corps of its own, one that successfully attacked financial markets in 2012, a casino in Las Vegas and a range of military targets. American intelligence officials told Congress in January that Iranian hackers are now considered sophisticated operators who are increasingly capable of striking United States targets.

Since Bolton became national security adviser in April 2018, he has intensified the Trump administration’s policy of isolating and pressuring Iran. The animus against Iran’s leaders dates back at least to his days as an official in the George W. Bush administration. Later, as a private citizen, Bolton called for military strikes on Iran, as well as regime change.

The newly updated plans were not the first time during the Trump administration that Bolton has sought military options to strike Iran.

This year, War Department and senior American officials said Bolton sought similar guidance from the Pentagon last year, after militants fired three mortars or rockets into an empty lot on the grounds of the United States Embassy in Baghdad in September.

In response to Bolton’s request, which alarmed Jim Mattis, then the war secretary, the Pentagon offered some general options, including a cross-border airstrike on an Iranian military facility that would have been mostly symbolic.

But Mattis and other military leaders adamantly opposed retaliation for the Baghdad attack, successfully arguing that it was insignificant.

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US Not Seeking Military Confrontation with Iran, Only Waging Psywar: Senior MP

 May 12, 2019

Trump

A senior member of the Iranian Parliament says the United States does not seek a military confrontation with Iran and is only waging a “psychological war” against the Islamic Republic.

Head of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh made the remarks after a closed-door meeting of lawmakers with the new chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Major General Hossein Salami, on Sunday.

“Analysis of the behavior of Americans shows that they do not seek a military confrontation with Iran and are only waging a psychological war against the Islamic Republic,” the Iranian lawmaker said, adding that the US government is trying to combine its psychological war against Iran with sanctions and other forms of economic pressure.

Referring to heightened presence of American forces in the Middle East, particularly in the Persian Gulf, Falahatpisheh noted that Iran is capable of hitting its targets from a distance of 2,000 kilometers in line with its defensive policy, while American warships will be at a maximum distance of 500 kilometers away from Iran and they know that in no other war, their defeat will not be so evident.

The United States is ratcheting up economic and military pressure on Iran, with US President Donald Trump on Thursday urging Tehran to talk to him.

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FM Zarif rules out US-Iran war, but says ‘accidents’ possible

Source

Fri May 3, 2019 02:40PM

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the Asia Society organization in New York on April 24, 2019.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the Asia Society organization in New York on April 24, 2019.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismisses the likelihood of a war between Iran and the United States but says certain “accidents” might ignite a military confrontation.

In a recent interview with the British online newspaper Independent at Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, Zarif said although he did not think a war between Iran and the US was imminent, “accidents can happen” that then spiral into a “military conflict.”

In response to a question about the nature of such accidents, Zarif gave the example of a recent move by US President Donald Trump to put Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on its blacklist of foreign “terrorist” organizations.

A lack of “vital communication” between the IRGC forces and ships going through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway where most of the world’s oil exporters pass through, can easily lead to conflict.

The United States in April officially registered the IRGC as a “foreign terrorist organization,” according to a notice published on the website of the US Federal Register.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) slammed the US government as “supporter of terrorism,” designating American forces in West Asia, known as the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), as a “terrorist organization.”

In a statement, the Iranian top security council said the designation came as a “reciprocal measure” against US President Trump’s “illegal and unwise” move to blacklist the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.

In a meeting with IRGC personnel and their family members in the capital Tehran, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the recent US decision is rooted in America’s “rancor” against the force, which has been in the forefront of the fight against enemies.

“The IRGC is the vanguard both on the field confronting the enemy on [Iranian] borders and even several thousand kilometers away [in Syria] as well as on the political battleground against the enemy,” the Leader said, adding that Americans hold a grudge against the force for that reason.

Read more:

Also in his interview, the top Iranian diplomat mentioned an incident happened in the Persian Gulf in January 2016 when the IRGC naval forces arrested 10 US sailors after their patrol boats entered Iran’s territorial waters.

Zarif said that “a direct line of communication” between him and his US counterpart at the time John Kerry let the two top diplomats control the situation and secure the quick release of American sailors, adding that no such communication channel exists today.

“So a similar incident in the Persian Gulf could quickly get out of hand,” he said.

On January 13, 2016, the IRGC announced that ten US Marines, who had drifted into the country’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf and had been taken into Iranian custody, had been released after Americans apologized for the incident.

Read more:

When asked about Zarif’s interview with Fox News, the Iranian foreign minister said he wanted to reach out to Trump’s base in American mainstream “because it is important to speak to the other side sometimes”.

However, he noted that it was not his first interview with Fox and that he had talked to the channel years ago when he was Iran’s ambassador at the United Nations in New York.

In the interview with “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”, the top Iranian diplomat said all measures adopted by the administration of President Trump in dealing with Iran conveyed a message that “the United States is not reliable.”

 

Iran Drone Sitrep

April 30, 2019

Iran Drone Sitrep

Ababil-3

For The Saker Blog

Iranian Drone Overflies U.S. Carrier—Tehran Unafraid, Defiant, Resistant

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on routine patrol in the Persian Gulf was photographed with video sensors aboard an IRGC unarmed drone.

https://youtu.be/QRRv-X12Ke0

The specific date of the video captures and the exact location were not reported.

The drone-type was reported by Press-TV as an Ababil-3, operated by the IRGC navy.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/28/594549/Iran-IRGC-footage-United-States-naval-forces-Persian-Gulf

The drone has a flying range of 100 kilometers and a top speed of 200 kilometers per hour.

Ababil-3 can fly to a ceiling of 5,000 meters and enjoys a high photography and imaging technology.

The Iranian drone enjoys unique strategic capabilities and it has a 4-hour-long flight durability.

Self-evident is the low intensity counter-war Tehran wages versus the war the Hegemon operates, hybrid in all its manifestations.

Merely displaying this video pulls the cloak of Power Projection from the naval task force. Should the time come for Iran to extract a price from the US Navy and CENTCOM, an inexpensive drone (likely, a swarm of drones), will reach out and damage hundreds of billions of dollars of vessels, aircraft and thousands of sailors.

Thus, we have a deadly sanctions war, a hydra-hybrid war launched from all borders of Iran, and this very calm, 1:31 video that is portentous. Iran is demonstrably capable of bringing a behemoth task force to utter ruin and massive deaths. It does not need a vast navy of its own to accomplish this. Iran possesses simple technology and the fierce desire for its own sovereignty and security.

In the fog of war, should there be an attack on Iran, a humble drone might inflict a wound so deep, the Hegemon will not remain in the region.

Asymmetrical warfare has never been so extreme. Even a rock in a sling against a giant brute is far less asymmetric than an armed drone versus a US Naval Task Force.

Iran is a Drone Power. Its capabilities should not be underestimated by its regional enemies.

From 2013-https://dronecenter.bard.edu/irans-drones/

To 2019- https://theiranproject.com/blog/tag/iran-drone-technology/

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