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Iran put on a show of force to threaten the US — but it was unconvincing at best

Alex Lockie
Iran put on a show of force to threaten the US — but it was unconvincing at best
  • Iran on Friday carried out a military drill aimed at showing the US how it could shut down oil shipping in the Persian Gulf after fresh US sanctions it in November, but the display was underwhelming at best.
  • The US will slap Iran with sanctions on its oil exports on November 4, a date that marks six months since the US's withdrawal from the Iran deal.
  • Iran has threatened to block other country's oil shipments if its own shipments get blocked, and to use its military to do so.
  • Iran doesn't really stand a chance of achieving that and has already been hurt by sanctions.

Iran carried out a military drill Friday aimed at showing the US how it could shut down oil shipping in the Persian Gulf as more US sanctions loom in November, but the display was underwhelming at best.

The US will slap Iran with sanctions on its oil exports on November 4, a date that marks six months since the US's withdrawal from the Iran deal. Iran essentially responded by saying that if its oil exports are blocked, it will take military measures to block oil exports from other countries, including US allies.

"If the enemies and arrogant powers have an eye on the borders and land of Islamic Iran they will receive a pounding reply in the fraction of a second," Iranian media quoted Colonel Yousef Safipour as saying of the drills.

But while Iran has some credible naval capabilities that could shut down the waterway for a time, the assets it displayed don't really seem up to the task.

Iran flew Mirage fighter jets, F-4s and Sukhoi-22s as part of the display. The F-4 and Sukhoi both first flew in the 1960s, and the Mirage first took flight in the 1970s.

Iran, under heavy sanction, hasn't bought new fighter jets or components in a long time, but has shown considerable skill in keeping its stock flying for decades.

But the US maintains a presence in the Persian Gulf, most recently with an aircraft carrier full of F-35 stealth fighters.

The US has considerable air power in the Middle East and closely monitors the Persian Gulf. Additionally, US allies like Saudi Arabia don't exactly sail rubber duckies through the gulf either.

On Saturday, Iran will stage a large military drill with up to 600 navy vessels, its state media said. This number likely includes Iran's fast attack craft, or military speedboats that have harassed US ships in the past.

Already Iran has found itself abandoned by its former oil clients in anticipation of US sanctions. Iran frequently threatens military force against the US or its neighbours, but rarely follows through.

Reuters contributed to this report.