Iran practices swarm attack to demonstrate ability to cut flow of oil in Persian Gulf
Iran’s navy sent dozens of small boats into the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, dramatizing its ability to choke off the strategic Persian Gulf waterway — a move that could send global oil and U.S. gasoline prices soaring — and escalating the confrontation with the Trump administration for withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.I think they make the invalid assumption that the swarm boats would ever be allowed to leave port. A preemptive attack could quickly wipe out Iran's entire fleet. The boats that did get launched would be targetted by US attack helicopters.
U.S. officials said the naval exercise was Tehran’s way to show its capability to create a disruption in the waterway, through which some 30 percent of the world’s sea-transported oil passes daily. Officials at the Pentagon said they expected the exercise would last only a few hours, although it was unclear Thursday night whether it had ended.
“We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce,” said a statement by Navy Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman.
The development marked Iran’s latest escalation in response to Mr. Trump’s promise to begin reimposing harsh economic sanctions in the coming days that were suspended under the 2015 deal. One Pentagon source said the unexpected Iranian navy moves were meant to hammer home Tehran’s rejection of President Trump’s offer this week for direct, unconditional talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The swarming of small boats followed a relative lull in Iranian navy harassments against American warships traversing the precarious Persian Gulf. The last time tensions reached a boil there was in 2016, when Iranian forces captured and briefly detained 10 American sailors.
Other sources said the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which operates American assets around the Gulf, was weighing potential retaliatory moves to Iran’s exercise.