Yesterday, Sept 28, 2011, CNN’s Wire Staff reports that Iran plans to send ships near the Atlantic coast of the United States.
The source of that alarming news is the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), quoting a commander. The IRNA story says:
“The Navy of the Iranian Army will have a powerful presence near the United States borders. Commander of the Navy of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran broke the news about the plans for the presence of this force in the Atlantic Ocean and said that the same way that the world arrogant power is present near our marine borders, we, with the help of our sailors who follow the concept of the supreme jurisprudence, shall also establish a powerful presence near the marine borders of the United States.”
By “world arrogant power” is meant the United States.
The announcement was made by Adm. Habibollah Sayari on the 31st anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war. Sayari had announced similar plans in July. In February, two Iranian Navy ships traversed the Suez Canal in the first such voyages by Iranian ships since 1979.
Iran’s state-run Press TV, citing IRNA, said Tuesday’s announcement came as Iran also plans to send its 16th fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian vessels and oil tankers from pirates, who have hijacked dozens of ships and exchanged their crews for ransom.
A follow-up CNN story today says that military experts assure us that “It would be nearly impossible for Iran’s navy to threaten the U.S. coast with warships.”
A Pentagon spokesman responded Wednesday by questioning if Iran was capable of carrying out the stated plan. George Little told reporters that Iran has the right to send vessels into international waters, but “whether they can truly project naval power beyond the region is another question.”
Richard Herrmann, director of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University said Iran’s navy is too small with too miniscule a budget to remain for long off the U.S. coast.”This is hard to take seriously because Iran’s navy is very small. This force, whatever it may be, is going to be puny, especially compared to the U.S. Navy,” said Herrmann, who specializes in the use of imagery and posturing in international conflicts. “Iran doesn’t have the capability to come within close proximity to (the United States) to conduct hostile activities. Even if (Iran) launched missiles, we would sink their ships immediately.”
Iran lacks battleships or aircraft carriers. Its forces are capable of patrolling the Persian Gulf and sailing a short distance in the Indian Ocean, Herrmann said, but keeping ships stationed near the United States, so far from Iran, would be too expensive for the government.
“They would need a place to resupply, refuel, restock crews with food and water. They couldn’t afford that unless they got help,” Herrmann said. “I would imagine they could get help from somewhere in South America, maybe Venezuela.”
Venezuela and Iran are allied by their anti-U.S. sentiments.
Michael Connell, the director of the Iranian studies program at CNA, a Washington-area think tank that specializes in naval analyses, agreed with Herrmann.
“Their navy can’t reach our coastline right now,” Connell said, describing the Iranian announcement as “bombastic rhetoric.”
A friend wrote this, when I sent him this news:
“The correct thing to do, if Iran is foolish enough to waste resources by “projecting”, if I can misuse that term, its naval power to our shores is to direct the coast guard to rendezvous with them daily, and offer milk and cookies. That is what one does when children come to visit.”