Thursday 14 December 2017

Con Coughlin: Could Iran really close down the Strait of Hormuz?

THE last time Iran tried to close the Strait of Hormuz, the trade artery linking the oil-rich Gulf states to the outside world, the Revolutionary Guards had only a few rubber dinghies and primitive mines to achieve their goals. Next time, they will be far better prepared.

For the ayatollahs, the Strait of Hormuz, which lies between Iran and the tiny sheikdoms of the Gulf, has become a national obsession in their long-standing confrontation with the West. They know that, for all their long-held nuclear ambitions, they will never be able to match America’s military supremacy. Even if they were to develop the know-how to fit a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile, the odds are that the weapon would be shot down the moment it left its launch pad by one of the hundreds of anti-missile batteries the US has deployed around the Gulf region in anticipation of just such an eventuality.

So far as the ayatollahs are concerned, a far more effective way of attacking the West would be to place a stranglehold on their economies. As General Sir David Richards, the head of Britain’s Armed Forces, commented at the end of last year, that the biggest threat facing Britain is the parlous state of its economy. And the economies of Britain and the other major developed powers would be thrown into chaos if the Iranians carried out their threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

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