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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Bandar Abbas is a city that you have probably never heard of, but I wager long odds that you will.
Bandar Abbas is the closest Iranian city to the Straits of Hormuz, which is the most critical of the seven choke points vital to global shipping. It is the home of Iran's main naval base, and also the port for most of Iran's imports and exports.
Every single oil tanker leaving the Persian Gulf must pass within range of Iranian shore-based cruise missiles, such as the Soviet S-22 Sunburn, based on the heavily fortrified islands just off the Iranian coast. The shipping lanes are only miles wide.
Iran has no answer to the US navy, so the Iranian gunboats and submarines are not much of a factor. However, those missile installations are emplaced on rock cliffs and in caves, and as such, are not easily countered.
Any attack on oil shipping, successful or not, will cause the price of oil to skyrocket, as the insurance premiums for the tankers would increase to astronomical levels.
Sounds bad, doesn't it?
I'll offer one small sliver of comfort. My USMC unit was wargaming the seizure of Bandar Abbas way back in 1981. I won't go into the details of how it was to go down for obvious reasons. We have had our eyes on this plum for decades, and I am certain the Pentagon has a trick or two up their sleeve.