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article imageIran has outfitted boats with large warheads for suicide attacks

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 13, 2012 in World
The head of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, Vice-Admiral Mark Fox, has warned that Iran has prepared boats outfitted with large warheads that could be used to launch suicide attacks on the U.S. Navy.
The news follows a series of threats issued by the Iranians in recent weeks that they will disrupt shipping in the Gulf in retaliation for economic sanctions placed by the U.S. government in the dispute over its nuclear program.
ABC News reports U.S. Vice-Admiral Mark Fox, head of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said: "They have increased the number of submarines...they increased the number of fast attack craft. Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory. We have watched with interest their development of long-range rockets and short, medium and long-range ballistic missiles and of course ... the development of their nuclear program."
Reuters reports military experts say Iran's navy is no match for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf. According to experts, the U.S. Fifth Fleet has, at any time, at least one giant supercarrier with jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers.
Reuters reports, however, that since an al Qaeda suicide bomber in a small boat attacked the U.S. destroyer U.S.S. Cole in a port in Yemen in 1996 and killed 17 Americans sailors, the U.S. military authorities have become aware that their frigates and destroyers are vulnerable to bomb attacks by small enemy craft. Fox, in response to the question whether the U.S. Navy was ready for an attack from Iran's small crafts, said: "We are very vigilant, we have built a wide range of options to give the president and we are ready...What if it happened tonight? We are ready today."
According to ABC News, Fox said the U.S. Navy is taking Iran's threat to block the Strait of Hormuz seriously. He said: "Could they make life extremely difficult for us? Yes they could. If we did nothing and they were able to operate without being inhibited, yeah, they could close it, but I can't see that we would ever be in that position."
Iran has ten small submarines and had threatened to seal off the Strait of Hormuz through which a significant part of the world's oil supply passes. The Iranian Press TV reports that the Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says Iran has "intelligent control of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf as its main strategy to counter foreign threats and sanctions." According to Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Iran has a strategic advantage over "the enemy." He said: “Instead of our country being affected by enemy threats, it is the Islamic Republic... that is [more powerful] in controlling and [even] blocking the Strait of Hormuz or in responding to various [foreign] threats.”
But the Iranian general did not specify the elements of his forces' "intelligent control of the Strait of Hormuz."
The Israeli Arutz Shevan, however, reports that Iranian officials said last week that they had developed a new short-range missile that can shoot down missiles fired from warships. The new missile called Zafar, according to the Arutz Shevan, is a short-range anti-vessel radar-guided cruise missile, which can home in on small and medium-sized targets with high precision. The missile, according to Iranian officials, “loses altitude after being launched, and then cruises at low altitude in order to be hidden from sight of the enemy, and in the final stage identifies the target at a low altitude and destroys the target."
Fox, commenting on the pattern of tough-talk from Iranian military officials, said: "When you hear discussion about all this overheated rhetoric from Iran we really believe that the best way to handle this is with diplomacy... I am absolutely convinced that is the way to go. It is our job to be prepared. We are vigilant."
Fox also said the U.S. Navy and the Iranian crafts have regular contact in the Gulf. He referred to recent incident in which American sailors came to the aid of Iranian ships threatened by pirates.
The U.S. and the E.U. have imposed sanctions on Iran to prevent sale of Iranian oil in the international market. The EU has imposed an embargo on Iranian oil that is due to come in full force on July 1.
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