Guest Post: Iran Threatens Oil Spill In Persian Gulf

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Daniel Graeber of,

A report from German news magazine Der Spiegel states that Iran's latest effort to disrupt key shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz may be to cause a massive oil spill. Code-named Murky Water, the operation may serve to force a temporary respite from sanctions targeting the country's energy sector. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein tried a similar tactic during the first Gulf War to deter invading U.S. forces. If the German report is true, the Iranian operation could be a sign of Tehran's dwindling options.

Der Spiegel, citing unnamed "Western intelligence officials" privy to "top secret" information, reports that Iranian Revolutionary Guards Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari could order an oil spill by possibly wrecking an oil tanker in the key strait. Such an act would force the temporary closure of the conduit for much of the world's maritime oil shipments. When Iran threatened to choke off the strait early this year, oil markets went into overdrive despite a lack of physical disruptions. But apart from closing the strait, the German report notes, any international response to the spill would require lifting the embargo on Iranian oil shipments and potentially result in kickbacks for Iranian companies responding to the disaster.

Iraqi forces in 1991 tried to avert an amphibious assault by the U.S. Marines by dumping an estimated 5.7 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf, making it the worst oil spill of its kind in world history. While roughly half that spill evaporated, much of the residual oil seeped into sensitive marshlands in the region. In the sixth-worst spill in history, eleven people died in 1983 when, during the Iran-Iraq War, a 1.9-million-barrel slick from an oil tanker collision caught fire in the Persian Gulf.

Related Article: Is a Larger Middle East War Inevitable?

Der Spiegel reports the plans for Murky Water may now be in the hands of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who makes all final decisions in Iran. The ruling cleric said Monday that economic pressure on his country wasn't a destabilizing factor when considering the resolve of the Iranian people.

"Dear Iran enjoys an exemplary political stability and tranquility due to the nation's really admirable vigilance, awareness and insight backed up by people's presence on the scene," he said. "The Iranian nation has managed to show its capabilities to the world despite threats, sanctions and the enemies' hostilities relying on this stability and tranquility."

His resolve, however, ignores recent political trends. A top adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was taken into custody in late September for publishing material deemed offensive to Khamenei. Weeks later, lawmakers passed a measure calling on the president to answer questions about his economic policies after the Iranian currency collapsed. Ahmadinejad, blamed currency speculators for causing the devaluation, saying any criticism against his domestic policies was part of a "psychological war." The historic Grand Bazaar, meanwhile, was closed in response to economic protests.

The European Union announced Monday it was taking further action against the Central Bank of Iran because of Tehran's "flagrant violation" of its international nuclear obligations. Sanctions imposed on Iran are meant to starve the country of revenue needed to fund its controversial nuclear program. The U.S. government has offered waivers for some sanctions on Iran, meaning crude oil continues to flow from the Islamic republic. If the Der Spiegel report is true, however, economic pressure is finally forcing the country into a corner.

Der Spiegel's story, widely circulated by the Israeli media during the weekend, wasn't verified by outside reports.

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LongSoupLine's picture

"I WILL PISS IN YOUR CORN FLAKES!" - Amadingdongjihad

knukles's picture

Them's snap crackle popin' words...

no taste's picture

If they are really serious, they will probably hire some key BP executives for advice.

francis_sawyer's picture

at least the corexit laced shrimp that they feed the soldiers won't have to be flown in all the way from the GOM...

john39's picture

this story stinks...  like total bs.

pods's picture

Can you see the (farsi) conversation:

Yes Captain, I said commence with operation Shit the Bed.

Shit the Bed?

Yes dammit, Shit the Bed!


gorillaonyourback's picture

i agee,,,,,,,,,   the guote "Tehran's dwindling options" shows this authors ignorance and/or zionist slant

caconhma's picture

"this story stinks... like total bs." Difficult to disagree.

Iran is not in a position to have nukes soon. It just does not have these industrial capabilities. Even if Iran had 99% enriched nuclear gas, it is still not a material for nuclear weapon manufacturing. There is a need to have advanced technologies to convert the enriched gas into solid materials to build/assemble nuclear weapons. Even the USA uses diffusion technologies (rather than centrifuges) for nuclear weapon manufacturing.

For this matter, Israel does not have nukes production capabilities in quantities. Nuclear weapon production is terribly energy consuming. Israel has none of such capabilities. The only way Israel can have more than a few bombs was/is to get them from outside!

The rest are lies and demagogueries.


Raymond_K_Hessel's picture

Der Spiegel is completely full of shit. They make Fox News look good.

redpill's picture

This would be one hell of a black swan but I don't think they have the balls.

NotApplicable's picture

So... a hell of a false-flag then?

redpill's picture

Well wars don't just trigger themselves ya know.  Don't you want to spread some fuckin democracy with freedom-tipped cruise missiles?  You expect 'Merica to sit here and listen to these self-hating closet homo muzzies talk about nuking our jew friends?  You must be some kinda domestic terrorist. These jew-nukers are gonna learn not to fuck with the United States of Asskicking.  What's a few thousand more flag-draped body bags, we'll take out a lot more o' them. *spit*  *ding*

CPL's picture

If they did scuttle an oil tanker, the person with the heaviest naval presence loses their position.


All those ships use sea water to cool the engines.  Get that shit in the engine...well, we've all met at least one fool that's bought quick drying cement for a radiator fix.  Except cement isn't flammable and crude is.  A nuclear engine equipped anything would be useless, if the shit gets in there, BOOM!


redpill's picture

Stop, you'll give Paul Krugman a stiffy thinking about all the economic "growth" that would result from us borrowing more money from the Chinese to re-build half our carrier fleets.

malikai's picture

Scary thought. But that would take a whole lot of oil wouldn't it? Much more than any single tanker could do. You're talking about a carrier group spread out over quite a bit of space.

They're not going to be parking right in the straights.

CPL's picture

Tankers are about five times bigger than the Exxon Valdez.  They are the size of Detroit with room for an airport and a comfortable take off of a 747.


In a narrow strait like that it would only be a matter of time.  Volume of water sucked through the cooling system in the engine in an area smaller than Lake Ontario.   It's a lot of oil.  Even then, it doesn't go away unless everyone stops to clean it up, it's better than mining the strait as an interm idea.  It pushes people out of the way.


Unfortunately it puts every one up a creek without a paddle for oil.  Except Russia and China.  Their pipeline is on the other side of the problem.

hoos bin pharteen's picture

This is something that would only be done in response to an attack.  Right now, it's in Iran's interests to get as "spiky-looking" as possible.  They can do real damage to oil markets, although covert attacks on pipelines in Iraq, Turkey, et al or a hit on the Suez Canal would have a bigger impact than an attempt to block the Straits.

Oil prices would spike, but it wouldn't break the West's embargo.  If anything, it would cause Russia to back off its protection of Iran, so it would be lose-lose for everyone.


gorillaonyourback's picture

aaaaaa   oil floats me thinks and the intake for seawater cooling might be 20 to 30 feet below water line

CPL's picture

No.  It sort of floats. It's crude.  Not cooking oil.  Or refined oil.


But mostly it floats 20/30 feet below florida...with BP. 

We learned in Florida crude doesn't behave like processed oil, it is denser and full of particulate that is filtered out in the refineries.  Crude is closer to soft taffy in consistency and it's bouyant.  It can hide underwater.  On the BP thing, only an estimated 1-2% of the oil was reclaimed.  The rest of it has been floating up the gulf stream and fucking up the Atlantic fishing incubator and removing all that pesky wildlife.


Randall Cabot's picture

"Der Spiegel, citing unnamed "Western intelligence officials" privy to "top secret" information, reports that Iranian Revolutionary Guards Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari could order an oil spill by possibly wrecking an oil tanker in the key strait."


object_orient's picture

Stop using your brain and get with the program. Speculate on the speculation like everyone else and get this thread over 100 comments already.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

"Der Spiegel, citing unnamed "Arctic workshop elves" privy to "top secret" lists of the naughty and the nice, reports that Ishtarian Rabbitary Guards Gen. Mohammed "Snowball" Jabunni could order an egg hunt by possibly discarding five cubic kilometers of green plastic Easter Basket Hay® in the key strait."

LULZ abound when you can just make shit up. is just a goof site like the Onion, right?

Pure Evil's picture

"Western intelligence officials"

Are those the same ones that gave us Saddam Hussien's weapons of mass destruction and Nigerian yellow cake?

MSimon's picture

Saddam's chemical stuff went to Syria and his nuke program was outsourced to Libya.

CPL's picture

It would correct everyone's "privilage" quickly enough by poisoning the well just right.  Imagine that, Iranians using an old Desert Tactic.


All those warships and subs would have to haul ass to clear water.  They get any of that oil sludge/water into the cooling systems on sub or ship, it'll make very expensive and large paper weights.

They would waste nearly all US infantry on beach mop patrol.  Having a very flamable liquid floating around, getting into Israeli ports...and anyone elses ports.  There isn't a dock worker on the planet that would go near that.  Massive fire hazard.


Simple solution to a standoff problem.  The environment is the weapon.  Now what gets me is the "environmental" angle played.  The florida coast is bleeding out and destroying the fishing for the entire Atlantic Ocean.  This though would shut down the canal.  Open season on anything floating by Somalia, everyone would have no choice by to go around Africa.

redpill's picture

With US ships and subs out of the way they'd have no problem getting the strait chock full of mines too.  It would be fun trying to clean up a giant oil spill and not get blown up at the same time.

BUT, I still don't think they have the balls.  The action would trigger immediate bombing of their country and could very likely incite violent revolution.

CPL's picture

Those ships are nuclear powered.  They get oil sludge in their cooling system, everyone is as good as glowing.  If Iran gets it's ass pounded then it's game time and everyone jumps in the dogpile...


Without the convience of the Canal and on the open sea off the east coast of Africa, you bet your ass the Somali's would eventually manage to get a warship.  They have a million tiny boats and ten million people to dispose of to obtain one.  Just need a dark night.  I understand they've been trying to get their hands on one for about a year, they have money, no sellers though.  


Somali's come in from behind because they are modivated by business needs.  Israel, US and Saudi interests will go up in smoke nearly the same moment 2000 somali's zerg a ship, make shark food and haul ass to the UAE and hold it at gun point.  In their position, every asset is disposable.  The money is all they care about.  If they need more guys, there is a whole country of millions to choose from.  They need another ship...they'll zerg another one, or hide in the captured port like Dubai and level the man made palm island full of millionaires. 


This will not play out like people think it will.  My money is on bat shit crazy and tenacious.  Asymmetric wars suck ass for the invader.  The Iranians have it easy.  They are on a defensive play book.  The US has to manage about 347 other fronts at last count.


TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


This though would shut down the canal.  Open season on anything floating by Somalia, everyone would have no choice by to go around Africa.

I think you're confusing the Persian Gulf with the Red Sea. No offense intended, just trying to clarify the geography.

Kitler's picture

I think they're serious this time...

Oct 16 (Reuters) - The Iranian Oil Ministry has just appointed former BP CEO Tony Haywood as Director of Safety for the Straits of Hormuz.

bigdumbnugly's picture

rumor is the iranians are holding back on the even bigger threat of refusing to snip their munificent nosehairs if this shit don't stop.



General Decline's picture

"oh yeah, well we're gonna dump oil in the ocean and show you!".

That's got to be the stupidest thing I've heard yet.

redpill's picture

Mossad is running out of ideas, give them a break.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

It does seem to be at the same level as Wile E. Netanyahoo's cartoon bomb.

Big Corked Boots's picture

We must bomb them to make them green.

I'll be looking for the Greenpeace rainbow coalition to prevent this destruction.

Save the earth - Nuke Iran!

( /sarc for all you slow readers out there today )

bigdumbnugly's picture

ingenious propoganda ploy though...  

bad, bad iran is about to destroy the environment.   we MUST prevent another oil spill at any cost!   even the greenies and ultra libs will be beating the war drums...

i guess the focus groups have been telling our ptb that the iranian 'threat of building a nuclear weapon' meme wasn't gaining traction. 

Kitler's picture

Not quite. All is well on the propaganda front.

Polls show a majority of Americans now believe Iran is preparing to bomb Israel or America or something.

A recent series of polls gauging U.S. public opinion on Iran and its nuclear program shed light on the enduring strength of the American propaganda machine.

According to a recent YouGov survey, an astounding 64% of Americans currently believe Iran is most likely enriching uranium “to build a nuclear weapon.”  Of course, despite the media distortions and deceits to the contrary, no evidence exists that they are.  In fact, intelligence estimates from both the U.S. and Israel conclude Iran has not yet decided on whether to pursue a nuclear weapons program.

john39's picture

worse yet, according to high placed intelligence sources, Iran has joined forces with Emanuel Goldstein in a vicious bid to destroy our dear big brother...

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

I can't remember if this month Iran is in Eastasia or Eurasia.

redpill's picture

I'm a disciple of Paul Krugman, therefore if the problem is war, the counter-intuitive solution is a lot more war.  more more more war.  He should really get a Nobel Prize in economics.*


* And by Nobel Prize in Economics I of course mean the not-a-Nobel-Prize Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences which was created and is sponsored by the oldest central bank in the world and has nothing to do with Alfred Nobel. 

Kitler's picture

Ironically the cure to the current levels of stupidity and corruption we see in government is in electing yet more more more stupidity and corruption.

Ergo I wholeheartedly support Romney/Ryan.

Only when collapse occurs or the good citizens have had enough will there be change we can believe in.

VonSalza's picture

nice propaganda

Apeman's picture

Exactly my thoughts

unnamed "Western intelligence officials"

Credible source... LOL

optimator's picture

Over 80 billion bucks a year for their intel and they can't predict things like the fall of the Soviet or if the sun will rise tomorrow.

CPL's picture

Wait for the shocking western intelligence to gather their pensions and salaries won't keep up with food prices if they pull the trigger.


Oil is the only game in town.