U.S.: Iran plans to disrupt oil trade

July 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- Iran has devised plans to disrupt international oil trade and could attack oil platforms and tankers, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal.

The officials said intelligence suggests Iran could target facilities inside and outside the Persian Gulf

The Journal said the officials would not describe the intelligence or its sources.

The disclosure comes as U.S. officials monitor Iran's reaction to international sanctions and to Israel's threats to bomb Iran's nuclear sites as talks on Iran's nuclear program have slowed.

The Journal said spokesmen for the U.S. Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on any intelligence pertaining to Iranian attacks on the oil industry, and Iranian officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Using the new intelligence, the U.S. military has conducted internal war-games exercises to simulate how the international community would respond to an attack on an oil tanker, refinery or another part of the energy-transportation system, the Journal said.

"It wouldn't be surprising to anyone if the Iranian regime was weighing a list of possible responses in the gulf," a U.S. official said. "This doesn't mean they would do something, as there are significant costs the Iranians would have to consider, but this is something to keep an eye on."

Defense analysts and officials list potential attacks:

-- A Persian Gulf tanker could be struck by a mine Iran would say was accidentally released.

-- Tankers could be attacked under water by frogmen with the Quds Force, a unit of the Revolutionary Guards.

-- Tankers could be attacked by small boats on the Arabian Sea.

-- An oil refinery in Bahrain could be attacked.

-- An oil pipeline or other oil facilities in the United Arab Emirates could be targeted.

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