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It’s impossible to escape the spotlight now focused on Iran, the U.S., and Russia. The attention began when the Iranians announced they’d captured a downed U.S. drone.
On the heels of this American snafu, Tehran commenced naval exercises and threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and cripple the global economy.
Saying that closing the straight would be “as easy as drinking a glass of water,” Iran’s military made like closing the strait was a simple matter.
Bradley S. Russel and Max Boot at The Wall Street Journal disagree, and say shutting the strait would be more like “drinking and entire bucket of water in one gulp.” The pair go on to explain how Iran tried close the strait before, in 1987, leading to America’s largest naval combat mission since World War II.
The fact that Operation Praying Mantis didn’t end well for Iran is really of little consequence.
As Mark Helprin points out, assuming Iran won’t try and block the strait again is like believing fundamental zealots will “perform cost-benefit analyses the way they are done at Wharton.”
A reasonable point, and if they Iranians do move on the strait, Helprin says the U.S. will undoubtedly begin bombing Iran’s nuclear sites.
How effective a mission that would be is debatable. Iran has its nuclear sites buried deep in the earth, potentially out of reach of the U.S.’s biggest bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP).
The 30,000 pound MOP may not take out a deep nuclear site. A senior U.S. official told Reuters that such an attack would be “hard but not impossible.” The blast would definitely knock out surface access, and temporarily shutter operations, a second a less desirable option according to Reuters.
Helprin points out that there’s little doubt Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. After all, why would Tehran rush to build reactors that provide $1,500 per kilowatt energy when it has at its disposal the second largest natural gas reserves in the world, offering power for $600 per kilowatt.
Russia continues to play down the possibility and told the AFP Wednesday that Iran is planning to cooperate with the IAEA and that a military strike would be a “catastrophe.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov said his country is “seriously worried” about military action against Iran, adding: “The consequences would be extremely grave. It’s not going to be an easy walk. It would trigger a chain reaction and I don’t know where it would stop.”