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Report: China’s arming of Iran poses threat to U.S. Navy in Gulf

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — China is helping Iran render the U.S. naval presence in the Gulf increasingly costly and dangerous, according to a report by the American Enterprise Institute.

The report said that the U.S. Navy would face increasing threats from Iran in the Gulf. AEI said the Iranian Navy, with help from China, was developing and deploying systems and methods that would endanger U.S. Navy vessels.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transiting the Arabian Sea.

“Unless Beijing and Teheran divert from their current course of action, or Washington undertakes actions to offset or counterbalance the effects of their military buildups, it is practically certain that the cost incurred by the U.S. military to maintain access to two areas of vital interest will rise sharply, perhaps to prohibitive levels, and perhaps much sooner than many expect,” the report, titled “Questions For Strategy, Requirements For Military Forces,” said.

Released in December, the report said Teheran was creating no-go zones in the Gulf, particularly near Iranian territorial waters. Authors Thomas Donnelly, Danielle Pletka, and Maseh Zarif warned that Iran was assembling an arsenal of Chinese-origin anti-ship cruise missiles that endanger U.S. Navy surface vessels throughout the Gulf region.

So far, China, said to share a similar strategic agenda as Iran, has
sold a range of naval assets to Teheran, including dozens of small warships.
The report said Beijing also supplied air defense systems, air-to-air and
anti-ship cruise missiles as part of Iran’s asymmetric warfare strategy.

“The latter [cruise missiles] are among the most dangerous to U.S. naval
forces, especially in the confined waters of the Persian Gulf,” the report
said. “In another indication of Iran’s focus on asymmetric warfare strategy,
including swarming and suicide boat tactics, Iran has increasingly
concentrated on acquiring and developing small, fast boats, some lightly
armed and others armed with missile and torpedoes, and will probably
continue this trend.”

The report said Iran also purchased the M-11 short-range ballistic
missile from China. The M-11 was designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

“Between 1995 and 2010, Iran increased the number of missiles it
possessed from several hundred to an estimated 1,000,” the report said.
“Simultaneously, the Iranian missile program fielded increasingly
more-sophisticated missiles, with particular emphasis on technical
efficiency and range.”

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