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Iran could cut West's oil supplies in event of war, warns American chief in Gulf

Alec Russell / London Telegraph | September 21 2006

Iran could trigger a global terrorist campaign and choke the West's oil supplies in the event of war with America, the top US commander in the region has warned.

In a rare public discussion of how a war with Iran might unfold, Gen John Abizaid, the chief of the US Central Command, gave a sobering assessment of Iran's military potential.

He warned that in a war Iran would rely on unconventional means to challenge America's superiority.

advertisement"Number one, they have naval capacity to temporarily block the Straits of Hormuz [the entrance into the Gulf] and interfere with global commerce if they should choose to do so," he said.

"Number two, they've got a substantial missile force that can do a lot of damage to our friends and partners in the region.

"Number three, they've got a pretty robust terrorist surrogate arm that could in the event of hostilities cause problems not only in the Middle East but globally.

And number four, they have a very substantial land army that, while it's not offensively worrying, is certainly capable of conducting asymmetric warfare."

Gen Abizaid's comments came as US and British officials chose to ignore a sulphurous attack by Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a speech to the UN's General Assembly on Tuesday.

Instead they are reluctantly backing an EU initiative to slow the push for sanctions to allow time to explore a possible diplomatic deal over Iran's uranium enrichment programme.

Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, said the speech was "predictable".

"We're still prepared to take action [sanctions] if Iran refuses to co-operate. But if there was any compliance, we could step back."


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