Iran: March 23, 2000


Iran has occupied the island of Abu Musa for 29 years, and formally rejected the UAE claim in 1992. US defense reports have described the island as a fortress bristling with anti-ship missiles, but new satellite photos show a curious lack of military infrastructure. There are numerous barracks and housing areas, a 13,000-foot airstrip, some armored vehicles in concrete revetments near one beach, and there are two sets of revetments dug into hillsides that are probably storage areas (or driveways to underground bunkers) for anti-ship missiles (Silkworm or C801). But there are no anti-aircraft weapons, no bunkers, few berms, no concrete shelters for fighter aircraft, only one aircraft hangar, and no flotilla of missile boats. There is a concrete jetty to unload roll-on/roll-off ships, but one would have expected barriers, anti-landing-craft obstacles, and other structures which are not present. Some analysts believe that more weapons are there than can be seen, while others suspect that Iran has decided that the US Navy could level whatever was built, so there is no real point in extensive construction. --Stephen V Cole


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