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Iranian Mining of the Strait of Hormuz - Plausibility and Key Considerations

January 21, 2010

Reporting that there are now more than 90 warships deployed in the Gulf, including aircraft carriers, destroyers, and submarines, the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on January 19, 2010 warned Western powers that Iran would target Western ships in retaliation to any potential attack. Mottaki criticized the West for creating a ‘military environment’ in the face of failing diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, pointing out the West’s inability to agree on tougher multilateral sanctions.
The recent statement from Iran’s top diplomat is a reminder of the fragile security environment in the Arabian Gulf today and its increasingly militarized context. Ascertaining intentions for either side is becoming more delicate as the political tempo is intermittently raised. The danger of miscalculations on either side could unintentionally transform the current stand-off into an explosive and uncertain war. While diplomacy remains the only way to ease tensions, Western powers at a minimum want to demonstrate to Tehran the seriousness of their warnings of resort to military intervention. In contrast, influential powers like Russia, China, Turkey and the GCC on the other hand continue to insist against a potentially catastrophic military option.
Political decisions made by stakeholders with critical interests in the region over the next six months are likely to profoundly shape the regional security discourse and developing perceptions of the balances of power within it.
At this critical juncture, INEGMA is pleased to release Special Report No.4, titled: “Iranian Mining of the Strait of Hormuz - Plausibility and Key Considerations”. The report deals with a central theme in the regional balance of power and explores the possibility of Iranian forces attempting to exercise a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz specifically through the use of naval mines.