Iran could use low-tech approach to deter use of Straits of Hormuz
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Moreover, when Iran attempted to cause mischief in the strait in 1988, during the socalled tanker war, U.S. naval forces showed near-total dominance in the water, disabling six Iranian vessels and attacking two oil platforms used by Iran for intelligence monitoring. Still, Iran could take a decidedly lowtech lowtech approach to the strait, attempting at the least to raise insurance premiums on tankers traveling through it to prohibitively high levels. Raising insurance premiums (and, accordingly, the cost of petroleum products) would not require the infliction of much damage on ships, per seóit would only require that insurers become nervous that there is enough potential danger ahead that they hedge against this risk by raising premiums. Iran could attempt to use a naval version of the asymmetric warfare that the Iraqi insurgents are usingóand history indicates that if they were creative, the Iranians could cause notable damage. Such a low-tech approach would emphasize quantity, not quality, of mines. Minesweeping and detection are particularly difficult tasks, and a strategy that deployed an irregular pattern of mines would not need the use of high-tech mine-laying vessels or submarines. Mines could be dropped off the back of commercial vessels, to potentially strike oil tankers (or naval vessels) attempting to transit the strait specifically or the Persian Gulf more generally. According to Anthony Cordesman, the Iranians possessed roughly 2,000 such mines as of 2004. And during a test in July 2006, U.S. mine countermeasure vessels stationed in Bahrain were judged to have serious technical shortcomings, including dysfunctional mine warfare hardware 'hampered by cracks and leaks in equipment, damaged wires and cables, faulty indicators and exposed electrical wiring.'
Iran has repeatedly threatened to disrupt global oil commerce if attacked by choking off the Strait of Hormuz. While they do not have the naval power to directly challenge the United States, they could deter U.S. action with naval mines and its torpedo ships.