Iran's Vulnerable Targets

Tensions over Iran's nuclear program have been a major factor in driving up the price of oil in recent weeks. The real threat to oil supplies, though, can get lost in the rhetoric.

Anthony Cordesman holds the Arleigh Burke Chair in Strategy at Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Speaking at the annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Cordesman said the tendency to focus on Iranian threats to close the Straits of Hormuz to oil traffic is misplaced.

“If we could find some way to perhaps hit everybody in the media who keeps referring to closing the Straits with some kind of large rubber club, it might improve the quality of the planning and analysis.”

Cordesman says Iran can now pose headaches all over the Persian Gulf, not just the Straits. One of the biggest dangers, he says, is the potential for sabotage operations against Saudi desalination plants. But Cordesman says Iran has vulnerable targets of its own.

“If you take out their refineries or their power grid, which would probably take us about two days, you basically cripple their economy. And that is a reality. They know that. This is not some kind of game.”

Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...