Iran Has More Than 5,000 Mines It Can Use To Block The Strait Of Hormuz

Naval MineIraqi mines hidden inside oil barrels on a shipping barge in the Persian Gulf, 2003

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Iran has been threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz since last year and a new book out by David Crist offers insight into why those threats should to be taken seriously.Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg reports Crist has little doubt the Iranians would mine the narrow strait through which nearly 40 per cent of the world’s oil passes, as a “last resort”, when “all else fails.”

Its inventory of mines, many of the type laid during the 1980s against Iraq and international shipping, has grown to more than 5,000, Crist wrote. Let’s just say they have enough resources and forces to do it if they set their mind to” attempt a disruption, Crist said. “That’s provided that there’s no international effort to stop it, which I think there would be,” he said.

Disrupting shipping has been on their minds for a long time, Crist said. During a September 1987 attack on the Iran Ajr vessel after it laid mines to disrupt shipping in the Gulf, U.S. Navy Seals discovered a war plan to close the Strait, approved in 1984 and called “Ghadir,” Crist writes in his book. A class of Iranian midget submarines — another potential threat to shipping in the Gulf — uses the same name, taken from Ghadir Khumm, an Islamic holy place in modern-day Saudi Arabia. 

Not just the Pentagon is taking the possibility of a mine ridden strait seriously, 19 other countries are lined up to join the U.S. for the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2012. An 11 day exercise beginning in mid-September that will use eight of the Navy’s minesweeping ships and unmanned Seafox submarines to perform exercises identical to what they would if the strait were mined with live explosives.

Iranian mines damaged U.S. ships in both 1987 and 1988, so most at the Pentagon probably understand it could certainly happen again.


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