Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The New MAD

During the first week of November, Iran decided to pull an old play out of the Cold War playbook and did so decidedly well. Knowing full and well that in any military conflict between the Islamic Republic and the West would result in an eventual defeat, they wanted to make it clear that it would also be just as costly in economic terms to their opponents. By using a veiled threat (no pun intended), hinted by Mr. Hosseini of Iran's Foreign Ministry's that Tehran could close the Strait of Hormuz "depending on the kind of sanctions" leveled against the Islamic Republic and then followed up by this week's expanded military war games, a basic tenant of deterrence was put into place saying, "You may take us out of the picture militarily, but we would make it so costly in terms of US lives and economic damage, that its almost like Mutually Assured Destruction".

The 10-day maneuvers, named "Great Prophet 2," includes hundreds of SRBM and MRBM launches ranging from smaller Scud models to the infamous Shahab-2 and 3's with a rang of 2,000 klicks and the capability of carrying either small-yield tactical nukes or the bomblet cluster munitions. Also, it is reported that in and around the Gulf of Oman there are reports of reconnaissance planes, in the form of pilot planes and drones, Sokho 25 fighters, heavy and light transportation and carrier planes such as the Russian made "Antonev".

These games were also probably a partial response to
U.S.-led maneuvers focused on surveillance, in which Australia, Bahrain, Britain, France, Italy also took part in in the past month. The Western war games were centered mainly around surveillance and interdiction of a mock-WMD laden vessel.

So what does this tell us about the current and near future situation in dealing with Iran? In a nutshell, we are hosed. Even with Iran's limited military infrastructure, they are still the most powerful and capable in the region except for of course the US and Israel. The damage they could inflict to so many different regional targets is staggering. Lets take a look at some.

  • US Bases in Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. All well within the range of hundreds of Shahab 2s and 3s and each capable of carrying cluster munitions, Bio/Chems and small nukes if they had them ready. Attack on US targets in Saudi and Turkey are unlikely unless Iran is feeling particularly insane that day.
  • Israel. In a nutshell, the whole state is within range. This would also be a bit of insanity and would lead to a great deal of restraint to NOT nuke Tehran.
  • US Navy vessels in and around the Gulf would be succeptable to literally hundreds of "Silkworm" anti-ship missiles and other goodies that the Chinese have been selling them for years to take out ships
  • Gulf Oil shipping could be virtually wiped out with multi-pronged attacks on Gulf oil terminals, the sinking of large tankers in the narrow Strait of Hormuz and mining of Gulf areas.
  • The Arc of Shi'a that spans throughout Iraq, Syria and Lebanon could be "turned on" which would result in a literal bloodbath for most everyone involved.
Now this of course is about the extent of their abilities but just think of the impact from a psychological and economic dimension? What would our response be? Invasion.... bad bad idea. Airstrikes.... for sure but ultimately ineffective Limited Nuclear Strikes.... could lead to an effective punishment but at what cost.

When you get down to it, the costs for either side are so high, that evokes the imagery of the Cold War MAD scenarios, where it was just lunacy for either side to push a first strike button. But is that the case on the opposing side now? The Iranians or at least the ruling theocracy can hardly be called rational state actors when the majority of them are awaiting the return of the messianic Madhi next year and with it the end of the world. The scenes that I have described are exactly what many in power in Iran want. So will a mini version of MAD work in the region?
Hmm I do not know. I must meditate more on the subject and try to come up with the answer that only 5 people will read and none will take seriously. Is ok, at least in the end I will be able to tell you I told you so :)

New Info, Updated, 11/2/06 1430 est
Widespread Mining in the Persian Gulf
"begin[ing] on Thursday, November 2nd. Reportedly the plan is the widespread planting of under-water mines in the Persian Gulf."

An informed source says: “Testing the discharge capacity of the various kinds of missiles as well as long-range missiles with cluster warheads, shoulder missiles and anti-helicopter Katyushas, and extensive mine planting in the Persian gulf, are the most likely activities planned for said maneuvers. The purpose for these maneuvers is to promote defense readiness and assess the effectiveness of new weapons. The air force, army, navy and Basij forces* will be taking part in these 10-day-long maneuvers."

Internal Security, the Basij
Commandant of the revolutionary guards Rahim Safavi, also made mention of the presence of the Basij forces, as another part of the maneuvers, whose mission, according to him is "defending the streets and urban areas in case of encounter with potential unrest”.
Basij forces are auxiliary mobilization forces created by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini; they are extremely radical and supported by the current supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

Suicide-Bomber forces:
Safavi also made very clear threats of terrorist attacks and explicitly spoke of suicide-bombers who are under his direct command, saying: "Those forces that have been trained in the ‘culture’ of martyrdom-seeking are, among the unique features of the Islamic republic’s armed forces that are comparable to other armies around the world."

and of course, a word from our sponsor (theirs, not mine)
"Our officials’ warnings are serious. Should the U.S. and it’s allies choose confrontation with the Islamic Republic, not a single border restriction will be observed and Americans and their interests as well it’s allies around the world will be stormed." - from the state run newspaper JAVAWN

Well, that sure clarifies things.


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