Guest Post: Iran & the Strait of Hormuz: Bad Bluff or Good Gamble?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover

Iran & the Strait of Hormuz: Bad Bluff or Good Gamble?

Was Iran born to bluff, or is it really much closer to building a nuclear weapon than anyone really knows? Now that the Islamic Republic has made its intentions clear, one has to assume that it has given away a certain measure of strategic surprise. If it really wants to get the most that it could – militarily – from an attack on tankers moving through Hormuz, it should have never even raised it as a possibility. By discussing it, we figure Iran has given the US “notice” that it might not have had in the event of an attack from the blue. Weren’t the maneuvers in the Straits (by Iran) enough to raise the question without raising alert conditions from the West and from Israel?

Why would Iran make the threat to attack Hormuz when it seemingly cannot gain maximum military strategic advantage from it? Surely, it knows that the US and Saudi Arabia cannot allow the Strait of Hormuz to be closed, even briefly. Was it just testing market responses? Did it want to shake a couple European countries loose from the EU position on sanctions – or was it just looking for a few extra million from higher oil prices? Any one or more of those could be the case, and there is one more possibility. Iran may actually be closer to developing a nuclear weapon than we believe to be the case. If it did, it could make a closure of Hormuz ‘stick.’ In any event, Teheran seems more aggressive than really makes much sense.

With Iran producing 3.575 million bpd at last count, a $4.00/bbl jump in prices is worth $100 million over the course of a week. That is a lot of pistachios (Iran’s number two export). What has changed in the last few weeks is glaring: Iran is acting like the US well after the War of 1812, when it embraced the Monroe Doctrine (1823). Iran is saying basically the same thing – that any interference in the Petroleum Gulf is within Iran’s realm of interest, but clearly not in others’ realms of interest. It has told the US that any redeployment of naval units beyond the Straits of Hormuz will be taken as acts of war. This is as far-reaching a new doctrine as the Monroe Doctrine was in its day, or as the threat to close Hormuz in the event of European adoption of new sanctions. There is one set of glaring differences, though.

The US, in 1823, faced a Europe drained by 23 years of on-and-off fighting from the French Revolution through Waterloo (1815). England and France had been driven to the precipice of economic ruin by the wars – which could also be true of the US and EU now (by various other factors, wears among them). Bt, England and France were done looking for new Atlantic colonies and the US knew that it could proclaim the Monroe Doctrine without it being immediately tested. Iran may feel that it has the financial plight of the EU and US on its side, but it surely knows that the US will be bringing a carrier group to the PG next week or next month. It will not wait until next year. Iran knows this.

Iran also knows that the EU is on the brink of accepting new sanctions against Teheran. China has opposed new sanctions undertaken by the US as being “unilateral” sanctions adopted by Washington, but the unilateral aspect comes only in the timing. European countries are considering – and have been for two weeks – new sanctions against Teheran. The new sanctions force companies to choose between doing business with Teheran or Washington. As of this writing, EU governments seem to be moving nearer to halting oil purchases from Iran. Any new positions taken against Iranian banking will be announced on January 30th at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. Earlier today, Greece agreed to go along with the larger European Union on any decision to boycott Iranian oil. Everything from tighter banking conditions to a total embargo – with tightened banking conditions – is on the table. A number of new sanctions seem certain.

And, that brings us back to Iran’s new Doctrine, which we hesitate to further connect to US President Monroe. When he announced his doctrine, he was not entirely sure it would stick. But, he thought he had good odds. Iran’s leaders must certainly know that the odds are heavily stacked against them. Either new sanctions or the return of US carrier groups to the Petroleum Gulf – or both – are likely.

So, Iran already has a nuclear device already or it wants to drive up oil prices as it possibly increases its bid to lead the anti-American group in the region. That latter one is a non-starter because of the ethnic Persian versus Arab component. So, what can it reasonably expect to achieve? Is this all for domestic consumption? Does it seriously plan on starting a hot war, or will it take the extra money on higher oil prices and walk away.

One thing is certain. If Iran does ever have a nuclear weapon, it looks likely that it will use it. The new Gulf Exclusion Doctrine cannot be allowed to stand. It has to be tested.  But, Iran really looks like it wants the doctrine to stand … at some point.  It seems to need a nuclear deterrent, though, first, to make it stick.  As far as we know, it has the cart before the horse on that, though … right now.

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Squishi's picture

Iran expects US to attack. thats why they pretend to play hard

actually its already game over! 

Gully Foyle's picture

All you need to know right here.

Turkey is a Sunni-majority country and the current Justice and Development Party government has strong Sunni Muslim constituencies, including the Naqshbandi Sufi order, which is important in Iraq and Syria. But the government has striven, despite significant tensions, for correct relations with Iran. Turkey imports natural gas from Iran and the two countries did more than $15 billion in trade with one another in 2011, up 55% over the previous year. Turkey, like South Korea, is seeking an exemption from upcoming US sanctions on sales of petroleum and gas via Iran’s central bank. Its Halkbank handles India’s purchase of Iranian petroleum.

trav7777's picture

there is a difference between a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.

Iran's threats on Hormuz will be ignored...these are international waters, meaning they belong to whomever has the strongest bluewater navy

seek's picture

Iran is capable of launching satellites, which basically means with a warhead they have an ICBM. Means to deliver is not an issue.

lolmao500's picture

Yeah but from a ``bomb`` to a ``warhead`` there's at least a gap of 5 years. Unless China-Russia-Pakistan has given them blueprints.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Germany and France have supplied iRan with all the needed technology.
iRan is a proxy for the euro-sociopath banking mafia bent on bringing the US and the rest of the world to a global feudal slavestate.

Ghordius's picture

I will have respect from you, serf. You won't call me ever sociopath again. Ups, I gave me away...

The Big Ching-aso's picture



1).   Question:   N. Korea already has nukes.   How come western allies aren't circling them ala Iran?

       Answer:   They have nukes.

2).  Question:   Why does Iran want nuke capability so much considering all the negatives?

      Answer:   See 2)., above.





macholatte's picture


3) Why not stop making war, wasting resources on weapons and just enjoy your wealth and prosperity and have a 21st century society instead of living like it's a thousand years ago?

         Answer: The leadership is psychotic.



AnAnonymous's picture

3) Why not stop making war, wasting resources on weapons and just enjoy your wealth and prosperity and have a 21st century society instead of living like it's a thousand years ago?


US citizens walled in their propaganda, unable to face reality.

Iran making war?

Iran allowed to enjoy their wealth and prosperity?



What is Iran doing?

Iran is trying to resist a siege laid around them, in an attempt to see their wealth siphoned away by US citizens, in a plan similar to Saudi Arabia, a country that is by the way and modeled by the US, engaged in more wars than Iran (not that hard though)

US world order. US citizens trapped in their propaganda. Cant even state they hope war against Iran would help the gas price down at the station.

d_senti's picture

You know, I've concluded that I should just say I agree with you and that I'm a US citizen. That should cause your head to explode and then you'll finally shut up. If you think the rest of the Western world isn't as propagandized and immoral as the US, then you're the brainwashed one.

Also I'm pretty sure no one bothers to even read your posts anymore, except me when I feel like complaining about you.

AldousHuxley's picture

Reason why N. Korea is not colonized by USA...


It is already owned by China. Read history on Korean War. China helped push American forced back to the DMZ when N. Korea was all but eliminated.

delbutler's picture

Duplicate answer accepted for same number of points : look in a mirror, America.

SilverRhino's picture



Question:   N. Korea already has nukes.   How come western allies aren't circling them ala Iran?

  • Because they don't have a damn thing of strategic significance???
  • The US government isn't a dick just to be a dick, they're dicks because they WANT something.

Sucks but it's true.

AnAnonymous's picture

Yes, they want something.

But North Koreans might provide US citizens with something they want: murder and resources.

US citizens usually go in such ventures for two things: resources and murder.

NK provide both opportunities.

d_senti's picture

Yes, we all appreciate the strategic value of a few good murders.

johny2's picture

actually answer to the first question are two words. Israel and Oil. Neither is close to N. Korea.

CompassionateFascist's picture

NK nukes aimed at Japan, US. Not Israel. Potential Iran nuke aimed at Yizroel, so Iran will be attacked by Israel's colony, America.

caconhma's picture

Personally, I hate all fanatics regardless of their religion or ideology.

Iranians religious-fanatics leaders are neither good people nor smart. But, at the same time, nuclear-weapon capabilities are a must for Iran to protect itself from American & Israeli zionist aggression.

As for the USA, it is a fading & failing empire. China is a growing empire with many problems but with its leaders are ready to compromise and flexible.

Iran is a major China ally. Consequently, a military zionist aggression against Iran will be an aggression against China with all following consequences.

The only questions left are:

·        How far is Iran ready to go to protect itself?

·        How bad or catastrophic will be consequences from a zionist aggression against Iran for the USA/Israel and their EU puppets?




Urban Redneck's picture

Iranians religious-fanatic leaders come in all shades of nutter which often clash with each other - there is a whole side of the issue that I haven't seen any good recent reporting on (not that I have been looking) - but the short version of what I'm looking for is an update on AhMadNutJob's ongoing struggle to keep his job and increase his powershare in the face of the increasing discontent of the actual religious-fanatic leaders with the title of Imam or Ayatollah (12th Imam Nutters All). 

Eally Ucked's picture

I'm not negating your point, because I don't have any knowledge what's really going on in Iran. Interesting point is where you get all that info about clashes and nuttjobs and so on. Is it the same source we all can access? That means news networks, major newspapers or stratforts of this world? There is discontent with Obama and his gov performance in US, are they nutjobs too? 

Think for yourself's picture

Indeed, anyone who is discontent with Obama's performance is a nutjob - for having fallen in his obvious false hopes shtick and having expected something out of him.

Urban Redneck's picture

That's the problem- the news is inconsistent on the outside, beyond squabbles and feuds over political appointments and impeachments.  Whenever the regional political rhetoric heats up the local papers clamp down- Al Jazeera was all for the Arab spring as long as it was off in distant Tunisia and Libya, when it rolled into neighboring Bahrain you could literally see the clampdown as the days progressed.  If things weren't so tenuous right now the Persian and UAE press might have something useful to contribute.  Otherwise, the only good source is people on the ground, and I don't have any business in the bathtub now.

If you happen to visit the Gulf, then stick to people over 50 who can remember the days before the British withdrawal and have a personal perspective and experience in the region.  Stick to Arabs and Persians who can cut through the cultural nuances in their sleep- even lifelong diplomats and oilmen are generally useless in this regard.  And lastly, everyone talks their book, so retired professionals, black sheep of the elite (who stand to benefit less than their brethren), and even the local Imams (because some of them look at things on a long timeline) are all good people to share a pot of tea or coffee with.   

ian807's picture

I would bet that Pakistan has gifted them a warhead or two. Seriously, would you trust the Pakistani government *not* to?

UP Forester's picture

Why would Pakistan do that?

Oh, yeah, 'cuz they're gonna need help, they're near the top of the list, behind Syria and Iran.


If my neighbors were all thieves and killers, had guns, and I knew it but couldn't move, I'd get a gun, too.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Iran could certainly place a conventional warhead atop a rocket used for satellite launches, and if it could reach Africa or Europe then, technically it would be an ICBM. Trying to do the same with an atomic warhead, especially an untested one, raises the complexity by an order of magnitude.

The article below, although written six years ago, provides an excellent description of the technical challenges which would need to be overcome if Iran should seek to construct a missile-delivered atomic warhead:


TBT or not TBT's picture

Indeed, Lawrence Livermore labs, in the recent past, discovered that US warwheads, when simulated from launch to detonation, were found to undergo some event somewhere the boost phase that just about systematically dialed back their yields to something unimpressive. A lot of US standard issue MIRVs had to be fixed thanks to that. So yeah, having an ICBM or even a low orbit launcher with a decent heft, plus an A or H bomb, doesn't mean you can get the combination to immediately work together.

Still, a kiloton of prevention is worth several dozen megatons of cure.

TBT or not TBT's picture

And there are things called "containers" and "container ships" and "ports".

TBT or not TBT's picture

And there is also, nuke + low earth orbit launch vehicle = EMP device. No rentry vehicle, nor any particularly accurate guidance required. A decent EMP device, in the worst case scenarios that dead-ender islamo nutters would count on, would destroy the US in an apocalypic frenzy of starvation and cannabilism, on the cheap. Lots of the islamic world would get nuked on principle, or starve from lack of US grain on the market(and lack of a market come to that), but the islamo-nutters can be OK with that.

Bringin It's picture

It's theLikud-nutters that are pushing the envelope.  Based on your unbalanced comments, you must be one of them.  Itmust suck to be hate-spewing you.

ian807's picture

Sounds like you read "The Jesus Factor" when you were younger.

But really, why use a missile? A little boat up the Potomac or NY harbor would be more than sufficient. Cheaper too.

Cast Iron Skillet's picture

I'm not a military person, but there would seem to me to be a difference between launching a satellite into orbit and hitting a faraway target.

Ignatius's picture

I want Iran to have a nuke. 

In fact, we should ALL have one. 

I think people would be a lot more polite in that world.

Squishi's picture

the redistribution of nukes will be the end of the big bang.

EnglishMajor's picture

Does it matter?  If economic sanctions don't close Pandora's Nuclear Box, I am sure it can be done with an iron fist...or is the safest of "mutually assured", bad alternatives a worldwide, nuclear cold war?

TBT or not TBT's picture

The problem with that is that the regime in Iran is far from rational. They are leading a dying project, with oil and gas field yields declining, and a large population that mostly hates them, and is mostly intent on enjoying this life without breeding. It is game over for their ambitions, BUT they're desperate. They opt for faith that Allah will carry them the full 90 yards if they can just make a first down. Sorta like so many muslims thought about watching the twin towers fall.

Back in reality world, if they put a few big holes in a US carrier in international waters, nevermind sink one, they(the regime) are dead meat, the more so if they set off a nuke.

Shizzmoney's picture

I agree with this sentiment; if the US can just COOL down and not poke the beehive, the workers bees will eventually be so weak or fly away thanks to the regime's neglect of its people.

If something happens now, though?  Then CHina/Pakistan get involved, and that's DIRE.

Hugh G Rection's picture

Back in reality world

Funny, doesn't sound like you are famliar with reality world.  Is that the world where 19 Arabs with box cutters, commanded by a man on dialysis from a cave, made NORAD stand down, flew 3 seperate airliners into their targets, 1 pulling off an impossible 270degree corkscrew turn and slamming into the pentagon at 500mph?

In this world I suppose the Muslims prayed to Allah for wtc7 to collapse in it's own footprint at freefall speed (25 minutes after media was reporting it collapsed).

If you want to take it up the ass from Israel and the traitors in our own government thats fine, just know who is giving it to you.


ObungaBoy's picture

you must be very naive if you believe that 9/11 has been organized by the Arabs

the jew's lobby has strong influence on Wall Street and the congress but you are wrong if you believe that America will fight for Israel just because the Jews in the Congress and Wall Street are scared to dead about their profits

Bringin It's picture

re. but you are wrong if you believe that America will fight for Israel just because the Jews in the Congress and Wall Street are scared to dead about their profits

Have you been trapped in a mine shaft for the past few decades?  What do you mean America will not fight, die, kill and be killed for the tail that wags the dog? 

mick_richfield's picture

Why is it impossible to turn 270 degrees while descending 7000 feet?

That actually sounds pretty easy to me.

mick_richfield's picture

I'm trying to find out what the radius of curvature was, and having no luck yet.   If it's too tight, then yes -- that would be weird.

mick_richfield's picture

Ah -- rotation radius of 3.5 miles, descending 7000 feet in 2.5 minutes.  Sorry -- but if that manuever is impossible in a 757 then it's not an aircraft, it's a hot air baloon.


Hugh G Rection's picture

Ok let's assume a guy that had a hard time with a Cessna could pull of that turn. Take the sum of the parts from that day ( starting with wtc7 collapse) and the official story is beyond ridiculous.

ExpendableOne's picture

It's the combination of rookie pilot and near perfect tragectory that has more than a few pilots scratching their heads.

Bringin It's picture

The gross outlines of what went down are pretty clear. 

9/11 Aircraft Technologies & PNAC co-author Dov Zakheim

Cyrano de Bivouac's picture

Ignatius-if I were the only fellow in a class where everyone had a black belt in karate I would be down "hi ya!"-ing at a Dojo. Esp. after I saw two classmates(Iraq and Libya) get their asses kicked. 

Ignatius's picture

I am not in favor of the US imperial project though living here I have clearly benefited from it.  Now how f*cked up is that?! 

If one really tracks their way to the 'root' of the world's problem it begins with a totally immoral factory food system.  Americans eat shit.  Literally.  Being way ahead on our food -- immorally -- allows us to  pursue our other immoral pastime which is squandering our childrens/grandchildrens limited energy resources.  An opportunistic lot, are we not?

None of it is sustainable though it is highly profitable if one's on the right side of the trade.  Who's on the winning side of the "Iran's got nukes!" trade?

nugjuice's picture

A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my favorite books ever written. Love the picture. It's such a shame he never got to finish the series, tragic really.

Chump's picture

Just remember that a nuke doesn't have to be attached to a missile to be "delivered."