Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Iran Seeks Confrontation in Gulf
Wednesday, January 9, 2008 8:35 AM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
The near-miss confrontation between Iranian speedboats and a U.S.
naval convoy in the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday was a clear provocation
by Iran, aimed at testing the reaction time of U.S. Navy commanders and
the political will of the United States, sources within the Iranian
military tell Newsmax.
The U.S. failed the test, because no shots were fired, the Iranians
As a result, the U.S. Navy can expect similar provocations in the
future, as Iran seeks to determine what red lines the U.S. Navy is
willing to draw in the narrow sea lanes.
“If the U.S. Navy had shown strength and directly opened fire, the
Revolutionary Guards high command would understand that they can gain
nothing in military hostilities with the United States,” Newsmax
sources within the Iranian military said.
Instead, this latest incident has only fueled the aggressiveness of
Iran’s leaders, who see that the United States has now followed
Britain, which backed down after a group of British Marines was taken
hostage in international waters by Revolutionary Guards patrol boats
Dramatic video footage released yesterday by the U.S. Navy showed five
Iranian speedboats racing across the wake of a U.S. Navy convoy in the
narrow international shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf on Sunday.
[Edtor's Note: To view the Pentagon video, go here now.]
After a series of bull horn blasts and repeated warnings from the radio
operator on the bridge of the destroyer USS Hopper, the sky-blue
Iranian boats broke off — just seconds before U.S. commanders gave the
order to open fire on them.
The entire incident lasted nearly 20 minutes, with the Iranians
taunting the Americans in the final moments. “I am coming to you . . .
You will explode in few minutes,” an Iranian radioed the Americans from
The other two boats in the U.S. convoy were the guided missile cruiser
USS Port Royal, and the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham.
All three boats are among the most modern in the U.S. fleet.
By way of example, the USS Port Royal, the last of the Ticonderoga
class cruisers, cost $1 billion and carries a crew of 33 officers, 27
chief petty officers, and 340 enlisted men.
“The incident on January 6 was unusual in that it involved the taunting
of U.S. Navy warships engaged in free passage through the Strait of
Hormuz,” said retired Navy Cmdr. Joseph Tenaglia, a maritime security
specialist who was deployed in the region on active duty during the
tanker war in the 1980s and has been studying the region for 26 years.
“I think this is a game of chicken. You have some young hothead
radicals with a speedboat and some weapons who are told go out and
bother the Americans, but don't get too close or they may shoot. After
all it's called the Persian Gulf not the American Gulf.”
But Iranian sources say that the provocation was part of a strategic
plan, which Newsmax first revealed last spring, to test U.S. reactions
in preparation of a full-scale confrontation with the United States
that would involve naval and missile forces in the Persian, and
terrorist surrogates around the world.
Last year, the Iranians flew drones close to U.S. aircraft carriers
patrolling in the Persian Gulf and showed the footage on state-owned
television. “This was their way of saying, ‘look how close we can get
to you,’ said Sardar Haddad, an Iranian activist with close ties to
Iranian intelligence and military circles.
“The have plenty of individuals who are willing to blow themselves up.
If the U.S. Navy doesn’t take this seriously, they could face something
worse than what happened to the USS Cole,” he added.
The Iranian provocation occurred on the eve of President Bush’s
eight-day visit to the Middle East, where he plans to discuss the
threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons program with Israel and other U.S.
allies in the region.
President Bush responded categorically to the Iranian thrust just
before setting out for his Middle East tour.
“They should not have done it, pure and simple,” Bush told reporters.
“I don’t know what their thinking was, but I’m telling you what I think
it was — I think it was a provocative act.”
The timing of the Iranian probe clearly was aimed at sending a signal
to the United States and to America’s friends on the Arab side of the
Persian Gulf, who closely monitor traffic through the Strait of Hormuz.
The Arab gulf states have bad memories of Iranian actions during the
final years of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, when Iranian Revolutionary
Guards vessels seeded the narrow international shipping channels with
naval mines that crippled oil tankers and ultimately provoked a U.S.
They are also seriously worried by Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and
its ability to conduct subversive actions against their regimes through
local Muslim groups.
Iran is seeking to deter them from a closer alliance with the United
States, and specifically, from allowing their territory to be used to
launch strategic strikes against Iranian nuclear weapons facilities.
Peter Brookes, a former U.S. Navy officer and strategic analyst for the
Heritage Foundation, believes that Israel is nearing a decision to
unilaterally bomb Iran.
Simple, Brookes believes. Because Russia has finally set a date —
sometime this spring — for delivering the first load of nuclear fuel to
Iran’s nuclear reactor at Busheir, along the Persian Gulf coast.
Israel has twice launched airstrikes to cripple the nuclear programs of
its declared enemies.
In June 1981, it struck the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq. Last
September, it struck a site in Syria which Brookes and other analysts
believe was intended to house a nuclear weapons development program.
In both cases, Israel struck before any nuclear material was present,
“to prevent radiation from the reactor being spewed into the atmosphere
after a strike,” Brookes said last week.
A similar motive could now prompt Israel to strike Iran in the coming
weeks or months, before the Russian nuclear material is delivered to
Busheir, Brookes believes.
© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
For more on Ken’s latest thriller, Honor Killing, see
www.kentimmerman.com or go directly to