5th cable cut fuels allegations of isolating Iran


Richard Moore


5th cable cut fuels allegations of isolating Iran
Leslie D`Monte & Rajesh S Kurup / Mumbai February 9, 2008

Conspiracy theories of deliberately cutting communication lines to West Asia, 
primarily Iran, gained ground in the media and blogs as reports of another 
undersea cable cut ‹ the fifth successive one in just a week's time ‹ started 
emerging in cyberspace.

While the extent of Iran's isolation was unclear, many blogs alleged that the 
cable cuts and outages in West Asia were a ploy by an intelligence agency to 
disrupt Iranian commerce, targeting an emerging petroleum exchange that the 
country was shortly hoping to roll out.

The fifth cable cut could, in fact, have been a second cut on a different 
segment of the FALCON cable, owned by Reliance Communications, suggested other 
blogs and reports.

Cables are normally laid in proximity to each other and an accident in one cable
can result in severing many cables at a time.

A cable-laying company has to undertake an expensive marine survey which costs 
anywhere between Rs 40 crore and Rs 120 crore, depending on the terrain. To cut 
costs, some cable companies skip the marine survey, noted an analyst who did not
wished to be quoted.

The successive damage of these cables, they add, is of major concern since 
almost 90 per cent of Internet traffic is routed through undersea cables, and 
only 10 per cent through satellites.

The reason for the damage to the cables remains moot as the companies have 
claimed that they were cut after ships weighed their anchors over them.

However, the Egyptian ministry (after monitoring the satellite surveillance 
pictures) had refuted these claims stating there were no ships in the vicinity 
12 hours before and after the cable cut.

One February 7, Reliance Communications claimed that the severing of the FALCON 
submarine cable ‹ which disrupted voice and telecommunication traffic between 
Dubai and Oman ‹ was caused by a ship¹s anchor. The company also put up a 
picture of an abandoned anchor on its website.

None of the analysts this paper spoke to wished to go on record, saying it is "a
sensitive matter". However, they pointed out that the ocean bottom does pose 
great challenges to the telecommunication hardware, which must survive for 25 to
35 years in the harsh undersea environment.

Undersea cables undergo a battery of qualification tests that are now contained 
in the ITU-T international standard. They are very strong. A modern undersea or 
submarine communications cable is made up of a core of optical fibres, shielded 
with multiple layers of copper, aluminum, polycarbonate, stranded steel wires, 
mylar and polyethylene.

Meanwhile, FLAG Telecom, a wholly-owned company of Reliance Communications, said
it has begun work on its three undersea cables which were cut.

The India-based company operates the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) ‹ 
a 17,500 mile fibre optic cable which turns from the eastern coast of North 
America to Japan. It has also announced that it will lay a new, much stronger 
cable between Egypt and France.

The new data link will be also laid on a different route. The new cable will be 
1,900-mile-long and would allegedly take more than 18 months to complete.

FLAG Telecom also said that a ship loaded with spares, marine experts and 
optical engineers reached the site on Wednesday. The crew has recovered one end 
of the cable and cable-joining work is in progress. The repair work will be 
completed by Sunday.


There is no real-time monitoring of the cables. Satellites monitor the cable 
route and ships and trawlers passing over it. However, satellite pictures are 
called for only after a calamity strikes.

Globally, coast guards also monitor the cables up to 8 nautical miles 
(territorial borders) of the coast.

The cables have a lot of copper and steel protection, and there have been many 
instances of theft (mainly near Vietnam and Thailand) for the steel and copper

newslog archives: 

Escaping the Matrix: http://escapingthematrix.org/
cyberjournal: http://cyberjournal.org

The Phoenix Project:

rkm blog: "How We the People can change the world":

The Post-Bush Regime: A Prognosis

Community Democracy Framework: 

Moderator: •••@••.•••  (comments welcome)