Iran accused of plotting Gulf oil spill to punish West for sanctions by poisoning Gulf

 

A top-secret Iranian plan to cause a deliberate and massive oil-tanker spill at the entrance to the Persian Gulf has been leaked to Western intelligence agencies.

The plan, codenamed "Dirty Water" and first reported in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, was reportedly intended to "punish" the West for imposing sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

The idea, said to have been drawn up by the leader of Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, was to wreck or sabotage an oil tanker in the Straits of Hormuz – the narrow seaway between Iran and Oman which is used by more than a third of the world's oil tankers to enter the Persian Gulf.

An oil spill from such a large vessel would cause an environmental disaster in one of the busiest international waterways, and force at least the temporary and hugely costly closure of the Persian Gulf to shipping, according to details published by Der Spiegel.

Western intelligence sources were quoted as saying the proposal was meant to "punish" hostile governments for placing sanctions on the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the belief that Tehran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Israel has threatened to attack Iranian nuclear installations before any such device is created, while the West's sanctions have largely been seen as attempt to mollify the Israelis. Iran insists that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

Der Spiegel's report points out that an environmental clean-up would be possible only with technical support from Iran. As a result, Western nations "could be forced to relax sanctions against Iran or drop them altogether". General Jafari helped to lead the revolution which overthrew the Shah of Iran and brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979. He was among student protesters who stormed the US embassy in Tehran that year. He has commanded the fiercely anti-Western Revolutionary Guards, or Pasadaran, since 2007.

The 55-year-old is known for advocating extreme responses to threats against Iran. In 2009, he declared that Tehran would launch a rocket attack against Israel's Dimona nuclear facility if Israel attacked Iranian atomic plants. Although not all of the general's colleagues share his radical views, 13 of the Iranian regime's 21 ministers have undergone Pasadaran training.

General Jafari is reported to have drawn up the sabotage plan together with Admiral Ali Fadawi, another leader of the Revolutionary Guards. Der Spiegel quoted Western intelligence sources as saying that the plot was a clear sign that the Iranian government was frustrated and that Western sanctions were hurting the regime more than it was prepared to admit.

In a recent interview, Iran's Foreign Minister, Akbar Salehi, said the sanctions, which have targeted the oil and banking sectors, had merely caused "some inconveniences".

However, half of the Iranian economy is dependent on oil exports and since the imposition of sanctions in July last year, its overseas sales of crude have dwindled from 2.4 million barrels a year to just under one million. In recent weeks, soaring inflation has led to street protests in major Iranian cities.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003