Information operations · Information Warfare · Iran

Iran Escalation (17)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Iranian messaging is conflicting itself: 

What Iran is doing against the oil tankers is anyone’s guess, I’m not at all sure adults are involved in the decision making process.

The press is shoving all kinds of options towards its gentle readers with their gaudy headlines.  Gentle people of the press, there are countless options, some good, some bad.  Pushing towards war isn’t good for any of us.  

</end editorial>

The tanker attacks and MANPADS shot against an MQ-9 are the major topics. Since then more threats from Tehran, while Muscovy chimes in for effect. Speculation on Tehran effecting a nuke breakout. Media not surprisingly inflating Iranian capabilities. Finally, a fascinating essay on the ‘Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea’ and how Tehran botched it.

Russia to Washington: Abandon Middle East Troop Plans or Risk War With Iran – The Moscow Times

Washington planned to send around 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for defensive purposes.

Russia to Washington: Drop Middle East troop plan and stop provoking Iran – Reuters

Russia told the United States on Tuesday to drop what it called provocative plans to deploy more troops to the Middle East and to cease actions that looked like a conscious attempt to provoke war with Iran.

Russia-Iran strain raises possibility of US-Israel-Russia Syria deal –

The upcoming meeting of US, Russian and Israeli national security advisers in Israel has taken on added significance as once-concealed disagreements between Russia and Iran move out into the open.

Declassified: The Sino-Russian Masterplan To End U.S. Dominance In Middle East |

In a recent meeting, Chinese President Xi and Russian President Putin have set out common goals to reshape the Eastern Hemisphere and to gain the upper hand in the Middle East

Iran Warns It’s ‘Heading Towards a Confrontation’ with the U.S.

“If they wrongly enter into a conflict, they would be very sorry about that,” said Iranian ambassador to the U.K. Hamid Baeidinejad warned.

Iran, Europe and Trump – WSJ

Tehran’s threat of a nuclear breakout shows its real intentions.

Iran will not wage war against any nation: Iranian president – Reuters

Iran will not wage war against any nation, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, a day after the United States announced the deployment of more troops to the Middle East amid rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Iran says it dismantled a U.S. cyber espionage network – Reuters

Iran said on Monday it had exposed a large cyber espionage network it alleged was run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and that several U.S. spies had been arrested in different countries as the result of this action.

President’s Trump national security team expected to discuss sending more US military force to Middle East in wake of tanker attacks – CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump’s national security team is expected to discuss in detail this week whether to send additional US military force to the Middle East in the wake of last week’s attack on two oil tankers, according to two US officials with direct knowledge of the discussions.

US to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East as tensions escalate with Iran – ABC News

The United States is sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

On Iran, Trump is seen as all bluff and no policy – The Washington Post

Trump has ramped up pressure, but to what end?

Trump Administration Insists Iran Is Responsible For Tanker Attacks : NPR

NPR’s Noel King talks to retired Gen. Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, about how the Pentagon is responding to last week’s oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran Has Options and It’s Starting to Use Them – Defense One

Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign has not forced Tehran to yield—in fact, it’s done the opposite.

Iran to break uranium stockpile limit set by nuclear deal, spokesman says | Fox News

Iran is set to break its uranium stockpile limit set by the nuclear deal within 10 days, according to a spokesman for the country’s atomic agency.

Iran says it will break nuclear deal limit on uranium level in 10 days

Iran will surpass the internationally agreed levels of its low-enriched uranium levels in 10 days, the country’s atomic energy body said Monday.

Royal Navy special force heads to the Gulf as tensions escalate | News | The Times

In the warm blue waters of the Strait of Hormuz there is no room for mistakes. Its shipping lanes, which are only two miles wide, are packed with tankers carrying crude oil from the Gulf past implacable enemies: Iran on one side, the United Arab Emirates on the other. A lethal strike by either side

China Says U.S. War with Iran Is ‘The Last Thing We Want to See’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani courted both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to fend off unilateral pressure from the U.S.

Rep. Kinzinger calls Iran a ‘weak country’ after oil tanker attacks – YouTube

Fox News Published on Jun 16, 2019 Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger weighs in on escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

U.S. drone was fired upon by Iranian missile during tanker attacks in Gulf of Oman – Washington Times

An American MQ-9 Reaper drone was fired upon while conducting aerial surveillance during a pair of attacks last week against international oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, U.S. military officials said.

Iran attempted to shoot down US drone over tanker attack site in Gulf of Oman – ABC News

Iran attempted to shoot down a U.S. drone that was surveilling the attack on one of two tankers hit in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday morning, U.S. Central Command said.

Iran tried to shoot down US Reaper drone that arrived on scene of oil tanker attacks: officials | Fox News

Iran fired a missile – but missed – at an American drone on Thursday after the supposed Iranian attack on oil tankers, while another U.S. drone was shot down by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen in recent day.

Iran targeted and missed US drone flying over Gulf of Oman: officials

Iran targeted and missed a US drone flying over the Gulf of Oman shortly after the Thursday attack on two tankers there, US officials said.

Pentagon accuses Iran of shooting missiles at U.S. drones – Los Angeles Times

The Pentagon says Iran targeted a drone June 13 as it flew near a crippled tanker. Officials didn’t provide evidence or say why they waited to make the claim.

Trump’s maximum pressure train hits buffers with Abe’s doomed Iran mission | World news | The Guardian

Japan’s prime minister isn’t the first leader to regret trying to do Trump a favor – but he must have known he was taking a risk

Deterrence Is Failing — Partly Because Iran Has No Idea What the US Really Wants – Defense One

Successful deterrence requires clear delineation of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. That needs to start, pronto.

Pentagon drafting ‘contingency plans’ for possible escalation with Iran: Patrick Shanahan – Washington Times

Pentagon officials are drafting a slew of “contingency plans” for the U.S. and its Middle East allies, should growing tensions between Washington and Iran escalate in the region, says acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

U.S. focus is to build global consensus after Mideast oil tanker attacks: Shanahan – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is focused on building international consensus following attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East that the United States has blamed on Iran, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Friday.

U.S. Puts Iran on Notice and Weighs Response to Attack on Oil Tankers – The New York Times

President Trump offered no details and suggested that he was ready to engage with the Iranians, who denied responsibility for the attacks, whenever they are prepared to talk.

Trump blames Tehran for Gulf tanker attacks after Navy releases video showing Iranian boat removing unexploded mine | Fox News

An Iranian vessel removed an unexploded mine that had been attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker which suffered serious damage after an explosion in the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, U.S. officials told Fox News, as the U.S. Navy released video purportedly showing the incident.

Gulf of Oman attacks: UK statement – GOV.UK

UK Government statement following the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Following our own assessment the UK concludes that: It is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – attacked the two tankers on 13 June. No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible. There is recent precedent for attacks by Iran against oil tankers. The Emirati-led investigation of the 12 May attack on four oil tankers near the port of Fujairah concluded that it was conducted by a sophisticated state actor. We are confident that Iran bears responsibility for that attack. The Foreign Secretary said: I condemn yesterday’s attacks on two vessels in the Gulf of Oman. Our own assessment leads us to conclude that responsibility for the attacks almost certainly lies with Iran. These latest attacks build on a pattern of destabilising Iranian behaviour and pose a serious danger to the region. In targeting civilian shipping, international norms have been violated. It is essential that tankers and crews are able to pass through international waters safely. We call on Iran urgently to cease all forms of destabilising activity. The UK remains in close coordination with international partners to find diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions.

In Gulf, US Contends With Shadowy New Head of Iran’s Fast-Boat Navy |

The head of Iran’s fast-boat navy maintains that the U.S. is all bluff. 14 Jun 2019 | By Richard Sisk A second U.S. Navy destroyer, the Mason, was en route to the Gulf of Oman on Friday in a show of force, set to join the destroyer Bainbridge in the region following reported attacks on two civilian oil tankers. U.S. leaders have blamed the attacks, which damaged the vessels but appear to have caused no casualties, on the fast-boat navy of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), now led by a shadowy figure, Adm. Alireza Tangsiri. Tangsiri maintains that the U.S. is bluffing. The Americans “just want to exert pressure in order to have negotiations,” Tangsiri, the newly appointed commander of the IRGC navy, said last month of a recent buildup of U.S. forces in the region led by the carrier Lincoln and its strike group. In his only known public statement, Tangsiri told Iran’s Fars news agency that “we are fully prepared and, if the enemy makes any mistakes, we can in the first stage hit all American installations in the area. Surely, the enemy will not make such a mistake.”

Iran tanker attack should spur tough, measured U.S. response

During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the Reagan administration faced off a spate of tanker attacks with targeted military force and smart diplomacy.

Is Now the Time to Invade Iran? | The National Interest

The debate rages to this day.

NYT warns US, Iran on a ‘collision course’ | TheHill

The New York Times editorial board took aim at President Trump’s strategy toward Iran on Friday, condemning the administration’s response to Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East as disjointed and unorganized.

Gulf of Oman Tanker Attacks: Iran’s Strategy – Bloomberg

Squint hard enough, and you can see the outlines of a strategy that ends in negotiations.

Oil-Tanker Attacks A ‘Dangerous Escalation’ In U.S.-Iran Confrontation, Expert Says

Attacks on two commercial oil tankers in the Gulf Of Oman have escalated tensions in the region — has it raised the prospect of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States?

Iran renews ultimatum over nuclear deal amid tanker tensions | Iran News | Al Jazeera

Rouhani says he needs to see ‘positive signals’ from other signatories, or Iran will further scale back its compliance.

Iran renews nuclear pact ultimatum amid tensions with U.S. – Reuters

Iran will continue scaling back compliance with a nuclear deal unless other signatories to the pact show “positive signals”, the Iranian president said on Saturday as tensions with the United States escalated over tanker attacks in the Gulf region.

Iranians fired missile at US drone prior to tanker attack, US official says – CNNPolitics

In the hours before the attack on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US official told CNN.

Oil Tankers Attacked in the Middle East, U.S. Destroyer Rescues Crew

The perpetrators of the attack, which allegedly included at least one torpedo, are unknown.

Japanese ship owner contradicts U.S. account of how tanker was attacked – The Washington Post

The Japanese crew thinks the tanker was hit by flying objects, not a mine.

Japanese tanker owner contradicts U.S. officials over explosives used in Gulf of Oman attack

The Japanese owner of a tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman claims it was struck by a projectile, contradicting U.S. officials on the source of the blast.

A Novice Player Gets a Painful Lesson in Middle East Peacemaking – WSJ

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a rough debut as Middle East peacemaker, ending the first trip by a Japanese leader to Iran in 41 years with the U.S.-Iran conflict even more volatile than before.

Oil tanker attacks in Gulf of Oman: Tanker owner seems to dispute U.S. account of one of the attacks – CBS News

Owner of one of two oil tankers damaged says sailors saw &quot;flying objects&quot; before ship was hit, but U.S. blamed mines put in place by Iran

Huckabee on Iran tanker attacks: ‘Ridiculous’ to believe Iran ‘had nothing to do with it’ | Fox News

It was absurd for the Iranian government to claim they were not involved in attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East region, according to Mike Huckabee.

Iran’s Elite Defense Force Finds New Funding Sources as Tension Rises With U.S. – WSJ

Iran’s top paramilitary force is maintaining support for armed groups in the Middle East and finding new sources of funding, defying U.S. efforts to curb its activities abroad as tensions between Washington and Tehran soar following fresh attacks in the Gulf of Oman.

How Iran Was Swindled Out Of $3.2 Trillion | Zero Hedge

Underlying the one-year anniversary in mid-August of the signing of the ‘Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea’ is one of the greatest oil industry swindles in recent years. When representatives of the five Caspian littoral states meet on the 11th and 12th of August, Iran intends to seek some redress from Russia on Moscow’s manoeuvring last August. The Islamic Republic believes that it was robbed of its historical rights in the Caspian, conned out of a US$50 billion per year income, and left without Russia’s support against the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions. Little of any apparent consequence was decided last August when the five Caspian littoral states – Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan – signed the ‘Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea’. The limited publicity that surrounded the signing stated only that the agreement stipulated that relations between the littoral states would be based on the broad principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality among members, and the non-use of threat of force. It refrained from specifically going into details about share allocations in the Caspian Sea resource and talked only vaguely about giving the area ‘a special legal status’. However, a senior oil and gas industry source who works closely with Iran’s Petroleum Ministry told that there was a secret second part to the deal that has proven explosive for the perennially fractious relations between the Caspian states. At stake is the massive Caspian Sea hydrocarbons resources prize that has been fought over since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 resulted in three additional partners – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan – to the original partnership of Russia and Iran. Prior to the fracturing of the USSR into its constituent independent states, Iran and the USSR had struck the original agreement in 1921 to split all ‘fishing rights’ in the Caspian area 50-50. This was amended in 1924 to include ‘any and all resources recovered’, meaning in practical terms that all hydrocarbons resources would be shared equally between Russia and Iran. “Iran should have said back then that Russia should have shared its Caspian stake with the three former USSR states, but it [Iran] was content to wait for the official legal dispute to be settled,” underlined the Iran source. At stake is the allocation of revenues from the wider Caspian basins area, including both onshore and offshore fields, that is conservatively estimated to have around 48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in proved and probable reserves. Around 41 percent of total Caspian crude oil and lease condensate and 36 percent of natural gas exists in the offshore fields, with an additional 35 percent of oil and 45 percent of gas estimated to lie onshore within 100 miles of the coast, particularly in Russia’s North Caucasus region. The remaining 12 billion barrels of oil and 56 Tcf of natural gas are believed to be variously located further onshore in the large Caspian Sea basins, mostly in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. The area accounts for an average of 17 percent of the total oil production of the five littoral states that share its resources, on average totalling 2.5-2.9 million barrels per day (mbpd). Before the ‘Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea’ agreement was signed last August, oil output targets for each country were set three months in advance, with all revenues paid into a central Caspian oil account, which was then split in equal proportions of 20 percent between the five littoral states, said the Iran source. The revenues, at least prior to the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran by the U.S. late last year, usually comprised 95 percent U.S. dollars and Euros, but with some local currencies in the mix. Against this backdrop, the legal designation of the Caspian as either a ‘sea’ or a ‘lake’ would have far-reaching repercussions on the assignment of revenues from it. If it was designated a sea then coastal countries would apply the ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’ (1982), in which event each littoral state would receive a territorial sea up to 12 nautical miles, an exclusive economic zone up to nautical 200 miles, and a continental shelf. In practice, this would mean that countries such as Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan would have exclusive access to offshore assets that Iran would not be able to access. If it was designated a lake – and this was the informal designation before the August agreement – then the countries could use the international law concerning border lakes to set boundaries, by which each country effectively possesses 20 percent of the sea floor and surface of the Caspian. In the preparations for the signing of the ‘Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea’ last August, Iran had engaged lawyers to challenge the established 20 percent share that each littoral state had informally agreed upon, based on the fact that Russia should have used its own original 50 percent share to make good stakes for its former USSR states. Iran was confident at that point that Russia would show some flexibility as, after the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal last May, Moscow immediately made a deal with Iran that would effectively have given it control of all of Iran’s oil and gas resources. Specifically, the deal was that Russia would hand Iran US$50 billion every year for at least five years. This would cover all of Iran’s estimated US$150 billion of costs to bring all of its key oil and gas fields up to Western standard, with US$100 billion left over for the build-out of other key sectors of its economy.