US embassy cable - 86BAGHDAD1907

IRAQI AIR FORCE BOMBS TEHRAN REFINERY

Identifier: 86BAGHDAD1907
Wikileaks: View 86BAGHDAD1907 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 1986-05-08 11:50:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL IZ IR MOPS
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 081150Z MAY 86
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 736
INFO GULF WAR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 1907 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS: PREL, IZ, IR, MOPS 
SUBJECT: IRAQI AIR FORCE BOMBS TEHRAN REFINERY 
 
1. (U) AS REPORTED THE RAQI AIR FORCE HAS BOMBED THE TEHRAN 
OIL REFINERY MAY 7. MILITARY COMMUNIQUE 2216 RELEASED MAY 8 
SAYS "GROUPS OF AIRCRAFT" FLEW TO TEHRAN AND STRUCK THE CHOSEN 
TARGETS: THE REFINERY'S MAIN NOTHERN DISTILLING TOWER, AND 
THE CENTRAL BOILERS AND COOLING TOWER COMPLEX. THZ IRAQI AIR 
FORCE REPORTEDLY USED AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN IN AUGUST 1982 
TO PLAN THE RAID, AND THE LOCAL PAPERS MAY 8 PRINT THESE 
PICTURES SIDE BY SIDE WITH PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE RECENT DESTRUCTION. 
TAKEN FROM AN ANGLE (DIRECTLY OVERHEAD), ALL THAT IS DISCERNIBLE 
ARE TWO COLUMNS OF BILLOWING BLACK SMOKE; IT IS NOT POSSIBLE 
TO DETERMINE WHAT WAS AND WASNOT HIT. 
 
2. (U) IN A MESSAGE TO THE PRESIDENT, AIR FORCE COMMANDER 
HAMID SHABAN BOASTED THAT THE BOMBING WAS "THE FIRST OPERATION 
OF THIS TYPE IN ARAB HISTORY," BUT DID NOT ELABORATE. HE 
DECCARED THE AIR FORCE READY TO STRIKE THE IRANIANS WHERE 
AND WHEN THE PRESIDENT CHOOSES. 
 
3. (U) WE NOTE WIRE SERVICE REPORTS FROM TEHRAN THAT INDICATE 
ONLY ONE BOMB WAS DROPPED, AND THAT ON A TANK FARM. IRAQI 
NEWSPAPERS, CONVERSELY, ARE CLAIMING "THE REFINERY WAS REDUCED 
TO ASHES" (BAGHDAD OBSERVER), "THE REFINERY IS NOW DEBRIS AND 
WRECKAGE" (QADISIYA), OR SIMPLY "DESTROYSD" (THAWRA). 
 
4. (C) COMMENT: THIS ATTACK IS IN LINE WITH RECENT STATEMENTS 
BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE AIR FORCE COMMANDER THAT IRAQ INTENDS 
TO TAKE THE WAR TO THE ENEMY. AFTER A SIMILAR 
STRIKE AT THE ISFAHAN REFINERY MARCH 13 THE IRAQI MEDIA ALSO 
MADE SWEEPING CLAIMS, ALTHOUGH ULTIMATELY THE RAID WAS SHOWN 
TO BE LESS THAN EFFECTIVE. THIS AGAIN MAY BE THE CASE. WE 
CANNOT DISCERN EXACTLY WHAT SHABAN WAS REFERRING TO IN HIS 
COMMENT TO THE PRESIDENT, OTHER THAN, PERHAPS, MID-AIR RE- 
FUELING OF THE ATTACK AIRCRAFT. WHAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN IS 
WHETHER THE IRAQIS FOLLOW THIS RAID UP WITH FURTHER STRIKES 
AGAINST REFINERIES OR OTHER INSTALLATIONS IN OR ADJACENT TO 
TEHRAN. MOST LIKELY THE RAID IS MEANT TO GIVE THE IRAQI PUBLIC 
A PSYCHOLOGICAL BOOST, SINCE THE IRAQIS CONSISTENTLY FAIL TO 
EMPLOY THE AIR FORCE IN A SUSTAINED MANNER AGAINST STRATEGIC 
ECONOMIC TARGETS. THE IRANIANS ARE UNLIKELY TO RETALIATE IN 
KIND FOR THIS ONE STRIKE, BUT WOULD ALMOST CERTAINLY HAVE TO 
HIT BAGHDAD IF THE IRAQIS KEEP IT UP.THE IRAQI LEADERSHIP WILL 
BE WARY OF INSTIGATING A POLICY OF STRIKES AT TEHRAN, SINCE THE 
CONSEQUENCE SURELY WILL BE A SPATE OF DEMORALIZING SCUD MISSLE 
ATTACKS ON BAGHDAD. 
 
 
NEWTON 

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