U.S., Israel attack on Iran unlikely: Stratfor founder
Reuters – August 3, 2008
The chances of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is remote because the risks to the global economy far outweigh potential benefits, according to the founder and head of global intelligence company Stratfor, Barron's reported on Sunday.
The U.S. stance that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran has in fact had a salutary effect on the U.S.-Iran relationship, Stratfor's George Friedman told Barron's, adding that the two countries even have taken steps toward diplomatic rapprochement after 29 years of enmity.
Friedman, whose company's clients include mega-retailer Wal-Mart Inc as well as media outlets and government agencies, told Barron's that the United States and Israel are likely using "psychological warfare" rather than preparing for the real thing.
An attack on Iran would likely result in Iran attacking oil tankers and mining the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of all seaborne-traded crude oil traffic passes each day, Friedman told Barron's.
The United States likely would "make short work" of Iran's shore-based missile batteries and attack ships, Friedman said, but demining operations would take longer to handle, he told Barron's. In the meantime, shipping insurance and tanker lease rates would soar, he added.
"This is what could drive crude oil prices to more than $300 a barrel, which even over a short period would be cataclysmic to the global economy and stock markets," Friedman told Barron's.
His comments come after investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker magazine that such an attack could come before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office next January and that both countries have special operations teams inside Iran.
The United States said on Sunday that Iran has left the U.N. Security Council no choice but to tighten sanctions for ignoring demands that it halt sensitive nuclear activities.
That came a day after an informal deadline lapsed for Iran to respond to an offer from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia for talks on its disputed nuclear program.
(Reporting by Robert MacMillan; editing by Gary Crosse)
Last updated 05/08/2008