Iran: Closer to Outright Confrontation

News Brief – July 3, 2012

On the July 3rd anniversary of the shooting down an Iranian airliner by a U.S. warship, tensions between the two long-time antagonists took a couple of steps closer to open confrontation.
Iran embarked on the second day of its Great Prophet 7 drill with the televised launch of multiple surface-to-surface missiles (see video below). Among the many missiles launched was the Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles).
The designated target was a mock military base said to represent one of a number of U.S. bases in the region.
At the outset of the exercise the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced: “Long-, medium- and short-range surface-to-surface missiles will be fired from different locations in Iran… at replica airbases like those used by out-of-region military forces.”
Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh continued:  “These manoeuvres send a message to the adventurous nations that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is standing up to bullies… and will decisively respond to any trouble they cause.”
The second in command of the Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, told the official IRNA news agency the drill was “a reaction to those …saying ‘all options are on the table’”.
He added that the missile launches were “100 percent successful”.
Although Iran frequently stages military drills, these latest exercises appeared to underline its readiness to strike US regional military bases – in neighboring countries like Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – as well as Israel, if it comes under attack by either of its prime adversaries.
Iran’s regularly staged military drills and parades may be more than just belligerent bravado, however. They also keep its armed forces in a high state of combat readiness to deter any potential aggressors.
For years now the U.S. and Israel have hinted that they may take military action over Iran’s disputed nuclear program by saying “all options are on the table”.
Some observers see Iran’s military preparedness as having deterred U.S./Israeli military action, thus far.
However, that may be about to change.
In the past few months the U.S. has quietly but significantly added to its forces in the region. Increasing the number of fighter jets capable of launching deep strikes into Iran and doubling the number of its minesweepers in the waters of the Persian Gulf.
The most advanced U.S. fighter jet the F-22 and older F-15C warplanes have also moved into two bases adjoining the waters of the Persian Gulf, adding to U.S. combat jets already based in the region and those aboard U.S. aircraft carriers routinely patrolling its waters.
Apart from additional ships and planes, after a crash development program, the U.S. has also moved a converted amphibious transport and docking ship into the waters of the Persian Gulf to serve as a forward floating military supply base and command centre.
Equipped with helicopter landing pads, a communications centre, medical facilities and quarters for combat troops, the U.S.S. Ponce has been described as a ‘commando Mothership’ and would be well equipped to act as a forward staging base for Special Forces operating in the waters around Iran.  
Taken in isolation, Iran’s missile drills, the addition of more U.S. combat aircraft and ships to the region and the deployment of the U.S.S. Ponce may not amount to anything. But viewed together it all looks as if the West is moving toward open military confrontation with Iran.

Great Prophet 7 Missile Launch

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.