Archive for fiber optic cables


Posted in Covert Ops, Middle East Watch, Oil Watch with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2008 by willthomasonline

U.S. allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are helping to shield Iran’s banking system from Washington’s “financial terrorism,” the governor of Iran’s central bank, Tahmasb Mazaheri has declared.

Despite the Bush administration’s attempts to isolate Iran and cut that country’s access to the global financial system, “The pressure is not working because cultural, political and economic ties between Gulf oil producers are too strong,” MiddleEastOnline points out.

Speaking at the recent Islamic Finance Summit, Mazaheri pledged, “Neither us nor our neighbors will sacrifice our long-term interests because of the unilateral pressures.”

Teheran’s denials of having a nuclear weapons program were dramatically and independently confirmed by a U.S. Government National Intelligence Estimate leaked last December in which all U.S. intelligence agencies concurred that Iran had dropped all nuclear weapons development in 2003, and has not since resumed it.

MiddleEastOnline further points out, “Iran has long had close economic ties with Gulf states, especially in the UAE and Bahrain, Arab allies of Washington and home to the Middle East’s biggest financial centers. Even so, banks in the world’s top oil-exporting region have bowed to pressure from the United States to make doing business with the Islamic Republic more difficult.”

Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank is that country’s biggest lender. Under strong White House pressure, AUBB.BH, has “frozen” banking activity with its affiliate Future Bank inside Iran. Other UAE lenders have refrained from issuing new letters of credit to Iranian companies.

Foreign banks are also buckling, MiddleEastOnline reports: “France’s BNP Paribas and Calyon, the investment banking arm of Credit Agricole, stopped offering Letters of Credit on Iranian fuel imports because of pressure from Washington.”

“I call it kind of financial terrorism in the financial industry,” Mazaheri told reporters. “And it cannot be tolerated by the global financial system,”

Mazaheri insisted that Iran’s central bank is continuing to assist private and state-owned Iranian banks “regardless of the pressure on them.”

Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. A recent major natural gas find has also secured its place as holder of the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas.

Iran officially says it is now retaliating against U.S. economic sanctions by diversifying its more than $72 billion of cash reserves from its natural gas and oil sales away from the rapidly weakening U.S. currency.

“We have tried to avoid keeping dollars,” Mazaheri explained, adding that the motivations for Iran’s central bank to diversify its cash-for-oil reserves away from the dollar were both “political and also because of the trend of the weakening dollar.” [Middle East Online Feb 7/08]

The debt-ridden dollar remains at record lows against the euro and a basket of major currencies.

It is the contention of this veteran investigative reporter, with personal experience in the U.S. Navy and the Middle East, that the recent furor over five cuts to four vital undersea fiber-optics cables in recent days could have been carried out by USS Jimmy Carter. A five-year, $1 billion refit at the Groton, Connecticut shipyard saw this purpose-built, fiber-optic cable spy sub outfitted with high-tech upgrades, including remotely operated robot submersibles, and a special detachable chamber for splicing into the deeply submerged fiber-optic cables that carry 95% of the world’s telephone and Internet traffic – including the Persian Gulf.

Instead of attempting to intercept that data stream, the sub, working alone or in concert with divers from other submarines, could be sending a clear signal to Teheran and other Gulf countries to “think twice” before opening a long-awaited Oil Bourse on the luxury island of Kish.

Set to open for trading by February 10, 2008 after repeated postponements in the face of U.S. threats, the innovative Iran Oil Bourse – or IOB – will allow oil buyers and sellers acting for their respective governments to bypass speculators and banks acting as costly “middlemen” to trade directly in oil – online. The Internet-dependent bourse is highly vulnerable to digital disruption. And Kish lies close to Dubai, where the most serious and unprecedented breaks occurred in two new cables. [Energy Bulletin Feb 3/08]

While the possibility of U.S. interference with this vital communications network remains speculative, the non-coincidental nature of five fiber-optic cable breaks in close succession, as well as the timing of the breaks, suggests a possible link with an impending euro-based bourse that threatens to push aside a U.S. dollar totally dependent on oil being traded in that currency.

Although the sailing times and tracks of U.S. nuclear submarines are classified, it would be interesting to know whether USS Jimmy Carter is currently in port or at sea.


Posted in Covert Ops, Middle East Watch with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2008 by willthomasonline

Iran’s long and nervously awaited oil bourse is once again set to open” imminently”. Iran’s Finance Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari has just told the world press, “All preparations have been made to launch the bourse; it will open during the Ten-Day Dawn.”

The ceremonies, which mark the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, traditionally take place between February 1 and 11.

Many financial wizards expect that when the country holding one of the world’s largest remaining oil reserves begins demanding euros instead of dollars for its “black gold”, the greenback could crash dive. It’s a metaphor that brings to mind USS Jimmy Carter, a specially retrofitted U.S. nuclear submarine modified to tap into undersea fiber-optic cables that carry most of the Middle East’s telephone and Internet traffic. (See my previous blog, “Did Secret Sub Sever Cables?”) [MK/JG/RE/HAR, Iran Press TV, Energy Bulletin Feb 3/08]

Chris Cook, former director of the International Petroleum Exchange, says that oil is not priced in dollars.

Dollars are priced in oil.

“This is eerie,” comments the Energy Bulletin.

And dangerous. The U.S. economy’s weakness is that it is consumption and deficit based. “If proceeds from oil sales are not being invested in U.S. Treasury Bonds or other U.S. assets” – now increasingly seen by investors as liabilities – “then it makes it that much more difficult for the dollar to avoid further declines”, Cook comments. [Energy Bulletin Feb 3/08]

He should know. His Wimpole Consortium originated and drew up the blueprints for the Iran oil Bourse. Though Cook maintains, “The currency of the IOB contracts was never a consideration,” the Energy Bulletin notes that the Iranian Bourse “cuts out the dollar as a currency in which to trade oil. “


The bourse’s launch has been again for years as three successive Iranian oil ministry officials failed to find hard-line political backing for a move that must have frightened the mullahs, who had seen Iraq brutally seized by invading U.S. troops soon after Saddam Hussein switched his country’s oil trading currency from dollars to euros.

Many observers see the Bush administration’s constant threats to attack Iran as intimidation aimed at scuttling the ever-impending oil bourse.

But when Chris Cook wrote directly to Iranian President Ahmadinejad, a drastic shake up of the Oil Ministry followed.

Once again, with his unfailing knack for turning opportunities into disaster, GW Bush had done it to Americans by using the U.S. Treasury Department to pressure international businesses to leave Iran. After the German Deutsche Bank’s closed its Teheran office, Treasury warned more than 40 other banks it would “follow a strict interpretation of U.S. and United Nations restrictions on doing business with Tehran.”

The Treasury Department also “bullied” two Iranian banks – Sepah and Saderat – “barring them access to the U.S. financial system for dollar transactions through third-party banks,” the Financial Times reported.

The highly controversial sanctions against Iran only slightly inconvenienced the regime, which simply switched from German and Swiss banks to Far Eastern banks, who were happy to take their business.

But as many predicted, the ill-considered move did succeed in sparking severe blowback.

The bourse was fast-tracked.

Though global oil prices are determined by supply and demand, Cook believes that the new Iranian Oil Bourse will “remove much of the current price volatility caused by a toxic combination of speculation by hedge funds and market manipulation by intermediary traders,” the Energy Bulletin reports.


“The IOB’s scrapping the dollar, if not practically then psychologically is going to significantly embody a counterweight to dollar domination of the oil markets.”

If it works.

And there’s the rub-a-dub-dub.

Because the Iranian Oil Bourse for trading Middle East oil in euros (and other currencies) is Internet-dependent.

“The bourse will be trading on a concept that is new in the oil markets but which is already operating in other fields,” the Energy Bulletin explains. Just as in South America, where participating countries barter locally produced raw materials and for Venezuela’s oil, buyers and sellers in the Middle East and beyond will “connect via the Internet on a peer to peer market place.”

And this means…

“There won’t be any trading intermediaries such as investment banks as middlemen that are making hefty profits.”

The communications chokepoint of the vital undersea cable network serving the new Oil Bourse headquarters is the luxury Persian Gulf island of Kish, (pronounced “quiche”), close off Dubai. Travel brochures boast, “No headscarves here!”

And the diving is spectacular…

Demolishing the deficit-dollar by pricing oil in euros – and eliminating massive investment bank brokerage profits – is a threatened double-whammy Washington cannot ignore.

So why not use its fiber-optic tapping sub to mess with those undersea Internet cables off Dubai, while sea- and land-based electronic monitoring (ELINT) stations plot the “work-arounds” used by affected countries to reroute their Internet traffic for future targeting?

Nuking the U.S. deficit-dollar by pricing oil in euros – and eliminating massive investment bank brokerage profits – is a threatened double-whammy Washington cannot ignore.

So why not use its fiber-optic tapping sub to mess with those undersea Internet cables – while sea- and land-based electronic monitoring (ELINT) stations plot the “work-arounds” used by affected countries to reroute their Internet traffic – for future targeting?

Sheer speculation, of course.

But five cable breaks in the same region in less than two weeks is a bit too “coincidental” for comfort. And the timing of such significant Middle East Internet disruptions could also be sending another signal through those severed cables.

At the very least, spending $1 billion and five years’ shipyard downtime to retrofit a Seawolf-class attack sub with advanced tech capable of  splicing into underwater fiber optic cables shows the seriousness of US intentions to mess with crucial cable communications.

Put this technology, timing and events together and “Cable Gate” seems a
more likely explanation than interference from submerged space aliens worried about the IOB’s impact on currency exchange rates on Aldeberan.

Take your pick.

And watch for the bourse to surface.