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News number: 9104252125

10:32 | 2012-07-31


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US Defense Analysts Astonished by Iran's Huge Firepower in Persian Gulf

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran enjoys astonishing capabilities to strike at US warships in the Persian Gulf, and is amassing an arsenal of sophisticated anti-ship missiles while expanding its fleet of speed boats and submarines, the Western analysts said.

The US media quoted defense analysts as saying that Iran both has and is even rapidly gaining new capabilities to strike at the US navy fleet in the Persian Gulf, adding that the new systems are giving Iran's commanders more confidence that they could quickly damage or destroy US ships if hostilities erupt.

Iran's advances have filled the US navy officials and commanders with deep concerns about US vulnerabilities during the opening hours of a conflict in the Persian Gulf, the Washington Post quoted the analysts as saying.

Increasingly accurate short-range missiles - combined with Iran's use of "swarm" tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats - could strain the defensive capabilities of even the most modern US ships, current and former military analysts said.

In recent weeks, the US and Israel have intensified war rhetoric against Iran to intimidate it into giving up its NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has, in response, said that the tactic of pressure, threat and intimidation cannot deter the country from materializing its international right to develop a civilian nuclear technology.

Meantime, Iran has also repeatedly warned that any act of aggression against its territories or interests will be reciprocated with a crushing response.

Last week, Iran's Foreign Ministry declared that the presence of US warships in the Persian Gulf constituted a "real threat" to the region's security.

The analysts cautioned that Iran's ability to inflict significant damage is substantially greater than it was a decade ago. A Pentagon study in April warned that Iran had made gains in the "lethality and effectiveness" of its arsenal. The Pentagon declined to comment for this article.

A 2009 study prepared for the Naval War College warned of Iran's increasing ability to "execute a massive naval ambush" in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway dotted with small islands and inlets and perfectly suited for the kind of asymmetric warfare preferred by Iran's commanders.

Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

An estimated 40 percent of the world's oil supply passes through the waterway.

Since 2009, analysts said, Iran has added defensive and offensive capabilities. Some of them have been on display in recent months in a succession of military drills, including a missile exercise in early July dubbed Great Prophet 7. The exercise included a demonstration of Iran's newly deployed Khalij-e Fars (Persian Gulf) anti-ship missile, which has an internal guidance system, a powerful 1,400-pound warhead and a range of 180 miles.

Modern US warships are equipped with multiple defense systems, such as the ship-based Aegis missile shield. But Iran has sought to neutralize the US technological advantage by honing an ability to strike from multiple directions at once, the analysts said.

Iran's naval power has even been acknowledged by foes. In a Sep. 11, 2008 report, the Washington Institute for the Near East Policy also said that in the two decades since the Iraqi imposed war on Iran, the IRGC has excelled in naval capabilities and is able to wage unique asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.

According to the report, Iran's Navy has been transformed into a highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed force and is effectively in control of the world's oil lifeline, the Strait of Hormuz.

The study says that if Washington takes military action against the Islamic Republic, the scale of Iran's response would likely be proportional to the scale of the damage inflicted on Iranian assets.

The Islamic Republic's top military officials have repeatedly warned that in case of an attack by either the US or Israel, the country would target 32 American bases in the Middle East and close the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

An estimated 40 percent of the world's oil supply passes through the waterway.

A recent study by a fellow at Harvard's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Caitlin Talmadge, warned that the IRGC Navy could use mines as well as missiles to block the strait, and that "it could take many weeks, even months, to restore the full flow of commerce, and more time still for the oil markets to be convinced that stability had returned".