According to Stratfor, a routine rotation of American aircraft carriers could place three carrier strike groups in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf; a fourth carrier strike group in Japan is within a week’s sailing distance.
This suspicious-looking placement of about thirty-six percent of America’s carriers coincides with a letter the United States sent Tehran last week. The letter purportedly warned Iran that any attempt to shut down the Strait of Hormuz would constitute a red line for the United States.
Despite this official explanation, there is a chance the letter conveyed a more deliberate and pointed message to the Iranians that may have read something like this:
“America’s only issue with Iran is its nuclear weapons program. If Iran does not cease and desist from pursing the development of nuclear weapons, the United States will deny it from acquiring this capability. If, in the process of disrupting Iran’s uranium enrichment pathway, Iran retaliates against the United States and its interests, it should be a proportionate response. If Iran decides to act disproportionately, it will face the full might and fury of the United States military.”
Another interesting data point is the sudden delay of a “massive joint anti-missile exercise” between the United States and Israel. American and Israeli officials confirmed off the record the “Iran factored into the decision.” However, neither country would specify how exactly Iran played into the decision. Instead, both countries noted that “the overriding factor had to do with preparedness for the exercise and Israeli budgetary concerns.” Lastly, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is also scheduled to meet with senior Israeli officials next week.
While the probability of an imminent attack on Iran is likely low, one might view all of these signals as a prelude to a precision airstrike on Iran’s nuclear weapons program over the next several months. Three carriers in the region with a fourth only a week away, are red flags that the United States may be gearing up for possible military action.
Aircraft carriers typically remain at sea for between six and nine months. It seems that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons could end some time during that period via negotiation or violence. Unfortunately, I fear it will be the latter rather than the former.