Teddy Roosevelt used to carry a big stick and speak softly. Joe Biden carries no stick and mumbles incoherently. The Iranians know that, and they plan to take full advantage.
Even as negotiations regarding a new nuclear deal drag on and Iran prepares to once again fleece the spineless American negotiating team, two Iranian ships are rounding the tip of South Africa and entering the Atlantic. Their destination? Venezuela. Their cargo? Sophisticated weapons for Maduro, which will pose a direct threat to the United States.
The Iranian navy sea-ship Makran and the Iranian’s most modern warship Sahand have just rounded Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Iranian vessels do not operate in the Atlantic, so this is an unprecedented and obviously significant development. What is even more significant is what the Makran is carrying.
According to a well-placed AND Magazine source with access to multiple sub-sources inside Iran, in addition to the high-speed missile boats visible in imagery on the deck of the Makran, that vessel is carrying surface to surface missile systems and the missiles to be launched from those systems. Many of the components for these systems are disassembled and distributed in unmarked crates within the ship so as to be harder to detect and identify.
AND Magazine’s source is also in possession of information strongly suggesting but not yet confirmed that the Makran is carrying sophisticated Iranian drones as well for delivery to Venezuela. These drones are claimed to have the capacity to evade detection by American and allied forces. Once in possession of these drones, Venezuela would then presumably have the capability to launch attacks in the Western Hemisphere along the lines of what the Houthis and Iran have launched against Saudi Arabia.
AND’s source also indicates that the Sahand is accompanying the Makran not so much to defend it with force but to up the ante in regard to any American intervention. The Iranians have calculated that Biden lacks the stomach for an armed confrontation and will not direct any action by the United States, which might escalate to the use of force. The mere presence of the Sahand will be enough to deter any American intercept.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has talked openly about buying weapons from Iran in the past.
“It had not occurred to me, it had not occurred to us,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast with cabinet members in 2020, instructing Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino to follow up and jokingly telling his cabinet to keep the plan a secret.
“Padrino, what a good idea, to speak with Iran to see what short, medium, and long-range missiles they have, and if it is possible, given the great relations we have with Iran.”
What Iranian surface to surface missiles are on the Makran remains unclear. Iran has a vast arsenal of such weapons ranging from short-range weapons used tactically on the battlefield to intermediate-range ballistic missiles that may be intended to carry nuclear weapons. The Khorramshahr missile, by way of example, has an estimated range of 2000 miles. Fired from the vicinity of Caracas that would put most of the state of Florida in range.
It should also be noted that recent reporting from Israel suggests that Iran may now be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months away from having sufficient highly enriched uranium to allow it to begin to build nuclear weapons. We have no information to suggest that the deployment of such weapons to Venezuela is currently intended by Tehran, but obviously once a surface to surface missile capability was in place the movement of individual nuclear warheads without detection would be a much easier task and correspondingly harder to interdict.
The original Iran nuclear deal did nothing to slow Iran’s progress toward acquiring a nuclear weapon. In the six years since that disastrous agreement, Iran has dramatically reduced the amount of time it will take it to “sprint” to acquiring nuclear capability.
It is tempting to look at the current situation and see Joe Biden’s very own missile crisis like that faced by John F. Kennedy in 1961 when the Soviets tried to put nuclear missiles in Cuba. It would be wrong to do so, however. Kennedy was a combat veteran of the Second World War. He saw a great deal of actual combat and famously rescued the crew of his PT boat after it was literally cut in half by a Japanese destroyer in the Solomon Islands.
Khrushchev may have believed Kennedy weak. He found out he had miscalculated badly.
Biden is no Kennedy. Biden is an empty suit surrounded by men and women who believe the United States is in decline and who fall all over themselves to appease the dictators of the world from Beijing to Tehran. When the Iranians calculated that the mere presence of a single one of their warships as an escort would be enough to dissuade Team Biden from interfering with their actions they were quite likely right on the money.
What Joe Biden should do is inform Tehran that the United States Navy will intercept the Makran and Sahand if they approach within a designated distance from Venezuela and seize from those vessels any weapons judged to pose a threat to the United States. He should then deploy sufficient naval forces to make clear to the ayatollahs that he fully intends to back up his threat with action. Should he do so and appear to be prepared to follow through on his threat we would likely see the Iranian ships turn tail and head for home. The ayatollahs are many things. Stupid is not one of them.
Such action would presuppose, however, that Biden had the capacity to transform himself and grow a spine. He does not. He will do nothing. He will dismiss the threat and pretend it does not exist much as every day he pretends the border is secure and all is well. In this, he will be abetted by a press that dedicates itself to covering for his deficiencies and lying to the American people.
The Iranians will press ahead. Their cargo will be delivered. And, someday, in the very near future, we will wake up and realize we now live under the threat of Iranian missiles and drones right here at home.