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Thread: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran


    By Jeremy Herb - 01/12/12 01:23 PM ET
    President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday amid escalating tensions with Iran.



    The White House revealed little about the call, but said it covered "the international community’s efforts to hold Iran accountable for its failures to meet its international obligations.”



    The readout said the phone conversation was part of the two leaders' "regular communication and cooperation."








    The call was made one day after an Iranaian nuclear scientist was killed in a car bombing in Tehran. Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who was killed when a motorcyclist put a bomb underneath his car, is the third Iranian nuclear scientist to be killed in the last two years.

    Iran has accused Israel's Mossad of carrying out an assassination. Israeli officials have declined to comment on the accusations. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton categorically denied Wednesday that the U.S. had any involvement in the assassination.


    The car bombing comes at a particularly sensitive time for the U.S. and Iran.



    On Monday, Iran sentenced a former U.S. marine to death for allegedly spying on Iran with the CIA. The State Department said it was "untrue" that the American, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, was a spy and condemned the death sentence.


    Iran also has recently threatened to disrupt a crucial waterway for transporting oil and said it is moving its uranium enrichment to an underground location.



    On Thursday, a newspaper in Tehran called for retaliation against Israel, according to The Associated Press. Iran also sent a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for the U.N. to condemn the assassination, Iran's Press TV said.



    The United States and Israel have both said that they will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and indicated they are willing to use military action. The two countries are staging a large missile defense drill together in the coming weeks.


    Tensions between Iran and the West rose last month after the United States and Europe stepped up economic sanctions against Iran in retaliation for its nuclear enrichment program. That prompted Iran to threaten to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes. Iran continued its saber rattling by warning U.S. carrier ships to leave the Persian Gulf.


    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that Iran would be stopped if it tries to close the strait.


    (RD: And when asked if Iran were trying to get "the Bomb" he denied that Iran was trying to build a nuclear device. - "Face the Nation" 8 Jan 2011.)
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Companion Thread:


    Russia: Attack on Tehran is Attack on Moscow

    Russia has given Iran its bear hug and warns Israel and the West that an attack on Tehran would be considered an attack on Moscow.
    By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu First Publish: 1/15/2012, 12:28 PM


    Moscow's Kremlin
    ITAR-TASS/Russian Federation


    Russia has given Iran its bear hug and warns Israel and the West that an attack on Tehran would be considered an attack on Moscow. The threat heightens the prospect of World War III in the event of a military strike on Iran.

    “Iran is our neighbor,” Russia's outgoing ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, told reporters in Brussels. “And if Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.”

    Kremlin Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev accused Israel of provoking the United States towards war against Iran, the Russian Interfax news agency reported Friday. “But at the same time, we believe that any country has the right to have what it needs to feel comfortable, including Iran," he added.

    Rogozin warned on Friday that more attacks on Iran could cause "a scorching Arab Summer."

    Russia also has come to the defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning Western nations not to intervene in Syria with military forces. Russia is a major arms supplier to Syria and has a heavy investment in Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Japan also is drifting towards Iran, backtracking from its promise last week to back American sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to halt its unsupervised nuclear development.

    Last week’s assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist has aroused more “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” protest rallies in Iran, where the scientist was buried on Friday.

    Iranian state radio said the 32-year-old scientist was involved with enriched uranium, a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon.

    Russia protecting its Middle East allies

    Arabic News Digest

    Jan 15, 2012


    Dmitri Rogozin Russia's representative to NATO

    Russia won't let Syria or Iran down, as it doesn't want to lose allies in a region important to it


    "If you want to know the odds of a war taking place in the Middle East, just keep track of the statements out of Moscow and Washington and the movements of their respective vessels and aircraft carriers - especially now that Russia is waking up from a period of hibernation and is coming back strongly in the region to protect its interests,"
    the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi said in its weekend editorial.

    It has now dawned on Russia that it was "fooled big-time" into agreeing to the Nato-imposed no-fly zone over Libya. The initial goal was to protect civilians from Qaddafi-regime raids, yet Nato operations turned into a tacit mission for regime change in the North African country, the newspaper noted.

    Russia lost a strong Arab ally with the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime.

    "Having taken stock of such a major loss, Russia is now determined to counter forcefully any US attempts to topple the Syrian and Iranian regimes," the newspaper went on.

    Only recently, a Russian ship loaded with weapons was sent to Syria, the paper claimed. In the meantime, "a Russian aircraft carrier and other warships arrived in Syria's Tartous port", which has the only Russian marine base in the eastern Mediterranean.

    After receiving a report from the Cypriot authorities, the US administration expressed its worry about the cargo of those Russian vessels and demanded clarifications, a call which fell on deaf ears, the paper added.

    "By dispatching an aircraft carrier and shiploads of weapons and other hazardous materials, Russia wants to send out a strong and unequivocal message to Arab governments and the United States, that it will not let down its Syrian and Iranian allies, after it has already lost Qaddafi's Libya and Saddam's Iraq."

    Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian envoy to Nato since 2008, who was appointed in December as his country's vice premier for defence industries, said last week that "any military intervention having to do with Iran's nuclear programme will be considered a threat to Russia's national security," the newspaper reported.

    Mr Rogozin added a comment to the effect that Iran is a good neighbour and any form of attack against it would not be tolerated by Russia.

    "Washington toppled the Libyan and Iraqi regimes because they once offered their oil and trade contracts to Russian, Indian and Chinese corporations," the paper said.

    "So Russia knows well that if it gives in to US hegemony plans, its interests will crumble in the world's richest region.

    "That also explains its dual Security Council veto - with China - against imposing sanctions on Syria," the paper concluded.

    US soldiers' scandal: it's become a pattern

    Some like to believe that scandals involving US soldiers engaged in some odious activity - like urinating on dead bodies - need to be treated as isolated cases. But they are not, the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej stressed in an editorial this weekend.

    A video leaked last week shows what appears to be a group of US soldiers joyously urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans.

    "This instance is just one among dozens of similar instances that have not made it to the public sphere, showing the amoral, inhumane and uncivilised behaviour of these forces," the newspaper said.

    The humiliating treatment of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison several years ago is still fresh in the collective memory. That case showed how US soldiers were having fun dehumanising prisoners in unimaginable ways.

    Take the Al Nisour Square incident in Baghdad in 2007, when US soldiers killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians for no reason. Guantanamo Bay, the newspaper went on, "is yet another flagrant example of the violation of basic human rights."

    The latest incident in Afghanistan is not "isolated or individual", the newspaper said. "It is a function of the usual method adopted by the US forces in Afghanistan and previously in Iraq."


    Ironically, the paper added, the US will go on lecturing the world about human rights.

    Kuwait still waits for an apology from Iraq

    "Why does Iraqi officialdom still refuse to apologise formally to Kuwait and its people for the 1990 invasion … which saw gross acts of repression perpetrated against the Kuwaiti people?" Saad Al Ajami asked in yesterday's edition of the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper Al Ittihad.

    "Where does Iraq see the harm in apologising to its Kuwaiti brothers as a goodwill gesture and a token of trust?"

    Today's Iraqi officials argue that they were not responsible for Saddam Hussein's crimes against Kuwait, or against Iran or the Kurds for that matter. They say they were themselves victims of Saddam's regime and see no reason why they should apologise for crimes they did not commit.

    Yet the Iraqi interior ministry did apologise earlier this month to Iraqis for the violations it was responsible for under Saddam.

    In a statement celebrating the 90th anniversary of its creation, the ministry said: "Members of the interior ministry's security forces apologise to the Iraqi people for the practices of the defunct regime," the writer reported.

    Such an unprecedented move struck a positive note with the Iraqi people, but it leaves the question unanswered: why not apologise to the Kuwaiti people?


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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Companion Thread:


    US, Israel in open rift over Iran: Big joint military drill cancelled

    DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis January 15, 2012, 3:31 PM (GMT+02:00) Tags: US-Israel Iran nuclear Moshe Yaalon military option sanctions


    Barak Obama


    US-Israeli discord over action against Iran went into overdrive Sunday, Jan. 15 when the White House called off Austere Challenge 12, the biggest joint war game the US and Israel have every staged, ready to go in spring, in reprisal for a comment by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon in an early morning radio interview. He said the United States was hesitant over sanctions against Iran's central bank and oil for fear of a spike in oil prices.

    The row between Washington and Jerusalem is now in the open, undoubtedly causing celebration in Tehran.

    Nothing was said about the 9,000 US troops who landed in Israeli earlier this month for a lengthy stay. Neither was the forthcoming visit by Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, Thursday mentioned.

    The exercise was officially postponed from spring 2012 to the last quarter of the year over "budgetary constraints" – an obvous diplomatic locution for cancellation. It was issued urgently at an unusually early hour Washington time, say debkafile's sources, to underscore the Obama administration's total disassociation from any preparations to strike Iran and to stress its position that if an attack took place, Israel alone would be accountable.

    Israel's Deputy Prime minister further inflamed one of the most acute disagreements in the history of US-Israeli relations over the Obama administration's objections to an Israel military action against Iran's nuclear sites in any shape or form. Yaalon ventured into tricky terrain when he pointed out that US Congress had shown resolve by enacting legislation for sanctions with real bite. But the White House "hesitated." He went on to say: "A military operation is the last resort, but Israel must be ready to defend itself."

    The friction was already fueled last week by the deep resentment aroused in Israel by Washington's harsh condemnation of the assassination last Wednesday, Jan. 11, of the nuclear scientist Prof. Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, and absolute denial of any US involvement.

    Although Tehran has since accused the United States of the attack, the White House treated it as the defiant sign of an approaching unilateral Israeli military operation against Iran to which the administration is adamantly opposed.

    Friday, Jan. 13, the Pentagon announced the substantial buildup of combat power around Iran, stationing nearly 15,000 troops in Kuwait - two Army infantry brigades and a helicopter unit – and keeping two aircraft carriers the region: The USS Carl Vinson, the USS John Stennis and their strike groups.



    Debkafile's military sources report that a third aircraft carrier and strike group, the USS Abraham Lincoln, is also on its way to the Persian Gulf.

    This massive military buildup indicates that either President Obama rates the odds of an Israel attack as high and is bolstering the defenses of US military assets against Iranian reprisals - or, alternatively, that the United States intends to beat Israel to the draw and attack Iran itself.

    The official purpose of Gen. Dempsey's visit next Thursday was supposed to be coordination between the US armed forces and the IDF. But his main object was another try to dissuade Israel's government and military leaders from plans to strike Iran without Washington's prior consent.

    The "budgetary constraints" pretext for cancelling Austere Challenge 12 is hard to credit since most of the money has already been spent in flying 9,000 US troops into Israel this month. Although the exercise in which they were to have participated was billed as testing multiple Israeli and US air and missile defense systems, the exercise's commander, US Third Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, announced that the event was more a "deployment" than an "exercise."

    Its cancellation leaves Washington and Jerusalem at loggerheads in four main areas:

    1. President Obama believes he is rushing through the sanctions against Iran's central bank CBI and oil restrictions with all possible speed. He needs time to persuade more governments to support him. Israel sees little real progress in the crawling diplomatic bid for backers and is impatient for action. At the rate the sanctions are going through, they will not be in place before the end of 2012 and by then, Iran will have already acquired a nuclear weapon.

    Israeli leaders also suspect that the Obama administration may be foot-dragging deliberately in the hope of encouraging Iran to enter into negotiations and so avoid a military showdown. They point out that all previous rounds of talks were exploited for Iran's forward leaps in their nuclear weapon drive, free of international hassle.

    2. President Obama insists on the US acting alone in attacking Iran with no Israeli military involvement. This would leave him free to decide exclusively when and how to stage an operation. He is counting on the tightened military and intelligence cooperation he has instituted between the two armed forces and agencies to safeguard Washington against the surprise of a lone Israeli action.

    But Israel has declined to make this commitment - even in the face of US officials' efforts at persuasion.

    3. US military strategists are counting on an Iranian reprisal for an attack on its nuclear sites to be restrained and limited to certain US military assets in the region, Israeli targets and oil installations in the Persian Gulf, including a temporary and partial closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which one fifth of the world's oil passes.

    They expect Israel to refrain from striking back for Iranian attacks and to leave the payback option entirely in American hands. US officials have said they fear an Israeli overkill would tip the entire American military operation into imbalance and generate unforeseen consequences.

    The incoming US troops were therefore armed with the sophisticated missile interceptorTHAAD systems (easily transportable Terminal High Altitude Area Defense hit-to-kill weapons) to show the Israeli government that the US would stay on top of all the military moves against Iran - offensive and defensive alike.

    On these three points, the US and Israel disagree. Neither Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, nor Defense Minister Ehud Barak or Deputy Prime Minster Yaalon, who are responsible for all decisions on Iran, are willing to put all their trust for defending Israel in American hands or relinquish unilateral military options against Iran. They believe US officials when they assert that the administration is prepared to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, but they want to see proof of the pudding and actions to back up the rhetoric. In the light of credible intelligence that Iran is very close to achieving its nuclear goal, Israel is holding on to its military option over American objections.

    Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of Israel agrees with Ron Paul

    Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of Israel doesn't need or want USA military help.




    • JANUARY 14, 2012

    U.S. Warns Israel on Strike

    Officials Lobby Against Attack on Iran as Military Leaders Bolster Defenses

    By ADAM ENTOUS,JULIAN E. BARNES and JAY SOLOMON

    WASHINGTON—U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict.


    Associated Press Iranians on Friday carried the flag-draped coffin of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a scientist working in Iran's nuclear sector assassinated in Tehran.

    President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.
    Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.

    The high-stakes planning and diplomacy comes as U.S. officials warn Tehran, including through what administration officials described Friday as direct messages to Iran's leaders, against provocative actions.
    Related Video


    Iranian officials blame the U.S. and Israel for the killing of one of the country's nuclear scientists who was blown up in his car on Wednesday. Video Courtesy of Reuters.


    Tehran has warned that it could retaliate to tightened sanctions by blocking oil trade through the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to punish the perpetrators of the assassination—blamed by Iran on the U.S. and Israel—of an Iranian scientist involved in the nuclear program.

    The U.S. denied the charge and condemned the attack. Israel hasn't commented.

    Mutual Contempt

    Insults, taunts and threats between Israel and Iran have been heating up in recent months:

    • Oct. 31, 2011: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to the Knesset: 'Security is not just about defense' but also 'the ability to attack.'
    • Nov. 5: Israeli President Shimon Peres, in a television interview, says a strike against Iran by Israel and other countries is 'more and more likely.'
    • Nov. 18: Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani: 'If the Zionists like to sit on wheelchairs, then they should attack Iran.'
    • Nov. 21: Iranian Brig. Gen. Ali Hajizadeh: 'One of our big wishes is that they take this action … We are eager to … throw the enemies of Islam and Muslims to the garbage can of history.'
    • Jan. 2, 2012: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 'Iran must expand its relations with all countries, except the illegal Zionist regime and the U.S. administration.'
    • Jan. 10: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz: '2012 will be a critical year in the connection between Iran gaining nuclear power, changes in leadership, continuing pressure from the international community and events that happen unnaturally.'
    • Jan. 11: IDF Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, on the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan: 'I don't know who brought the Iranian scientist to account. But I certainly won't shed a tear for him.'
    • Jan. 12: Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, on Roshan's killing: 'Another black page to the heavy records of crime and savageness of the terrorism-centered Zionist regime [of Israel] and its sympathizers in the White House and the West.'

    Source: WSJ research

    The U.S. and Iran, however, have taken steps in recent days apparently designed to ease tensions. Iran has agreed to host a delegation of United Nations nuclear inspectors this month. The U.S., meanwhile, has twice this month rescued Iranian sailors in the region's seas.

    Covert efforts by Israel's intelligence service to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons have been credited with slowing the program without the high risk of military conflict that could be sparked by an airstrike. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful uses.

    But Israel has declined to rule out a strike, as has the U.S.
    "It is the policy of the Israeli government, and the Obama administration, that all options remain on the table. And it is crucial that the ayatollahs in Tehran take this policy seriously," said Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S.

    Mr. Netanyahu said in a recent interview that Iran has begun to "wobble," a signal some U.S. officials believe suggests he is willing to follow the current U.S. strategy, which seeks to avoid a military confrontation with Iran.

    "Recent comments by the Israelis show they understand how tough the sanctions we've put in place are and are giving them time to work," said a senior Obama administration official.

    The U.S. military is preparing for a number of possible responses to an Israeli strike, including assaults by pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, according to U.S. officials.

    The U.S. believes its embassy and other diplomatic outposts in Iraq are more vulnerable following the withdrawal of U.S. forces last month. Up to 15,000 U.S. diplomats, federal employees and contractors are expected to remain in Iraq.

    In large measure to deter Iran, the U.S. has 15,000 troops in Kuwait, and has moved a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf area.

    More Related Video



    It has also been pre-positioning aircraft and other military equipment, officials say. Arms transfers to key allies in the Gulf, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have been fast-tracked as a further deterrent, officials say.

    Israeli officials said Mr. Netanyahu's government continues to closely coordinate with the U.S. in responding to the Iranian threat. "Israel believes that heightened sanctions combined with a credible military threat may dissuade the Iranian regime from developing nuclear capabilities," Mr. Oren said.

    Mr. Panetta and other top officials have privately sought assurances from Israeli leaders in recent weeks that they won't take military action against Iran. But the Israeli response has been noncommittal, U.S. officials said.
    U.S. officials briefed on the military's planning said concern has mounted over the past two years that Israel may strike Iran. But rising tensions with Iran and recent changes at Iranian nuclear sites have ratcheted up the level of U.S. alarm.

    "Our concern is heightened," a senior U.S. military official said of the probability of an Israeli strike over U.S. objections.

    Tehran crossed at least one of Israel's "red lines" earlier this month when it announced it had begun enriching uranium at the Fordow underground nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom.

    The planned closing of Israel's nuclear plant near Dimona this month, which was reported in Israeli media, sounded alarms in Washington, where officials feared it meant Israel was repositioning its own nuclear assets to safeguard them against a potential Iranian counterstrike.

    Despite the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel, U.S. officials have consistently puzzled over Israeli intentions. "It's hard to know what's bluster and what's not with the Israelis," said a former U.S. official.

    Inside the Israeli security establishment, a sort of good cop, bad cop routine, in which Israeli officials rattle sabers amid a U.S. scramble to restrain them, has assumed its own name: "Hold Me Back."

    Some American intelligence officials complain that Israel represents a blind spot in U.S. intelligence, which devotes little resources to Israel. Some officials have long argued that, given the potential for Israel to drag the U.S. into potentially explosive situations, the U.S. should devote more resources to divining Israel's true intentions.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    U.S. Harassed By Iranian Boats
    January 13, 2012

    Click here to see video of Iranian boats harassing the USS New Orleans and Coast Guard Cutter Adak.


    At a time of heightened tensions with Iran, U.S. military officials told CNN Friday that U.S. military and Coast Guard ships had two close encounters earlier this month with high-speed Iranian boats in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf that exhibited provocative behavior.

    The incidents occurred January 6, according to a senior U.S. military official.

    The USS New Orleans, an amphibious transport ship was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf last Friday when three Iranian Navy speed boats rapidly approached within 500 yards of the ship, the official said. The Iranians did not respond to whistle signals or voice queries from the New Orleans. The lack of response disregards standard maritime protocols, the official said. The boats eventually broke away.

    On the same day, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Adak was also harassed by high-speed Iranian Navy boats while operating 75 miles east of Kuwait City. Iranian personnel in the small boats appeared to be holding AK-47 rifles and at least one video camera, the official said. U.S. personnel on the cutter also reported seeing a forward gun that was manned on one of the Iranian boats, according to the official. Eventually, communications with a larger Iranian vessel in the area were established and the speed boats stopped their harassment.

    No shots were fired in either incident, both of which were videotaped. The Pentagon may release that footage later Friday.

    While the U.S. Navy has had routine encounters with Iranian naval forces for years, the Navy has reported seeing more aggressive action in recent weeks from Iranian-flagged vessels. Officials believe such aggressive action carries the potential for miscalculation. Typically, Iranian small boats are operated by forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps force and are considered to be more aggressive than regular Iranian forces.

    Word of the aggressive encounters by Iran comes as the United States has conducted two recent rescues of Iranian mariners at sea at a time of rising tensions in the region.

    Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the only outlet from the Persian Gulf, as it faces increased scrutiny over its nuclear program. The critical shipping lane had 17 million barrels of oil per day passing through in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

    Iran threatened to block the strait if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports. France, Britain and Germany have proposed sanctions to punish Iran's lack of cooperation on its nuclear program.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Jim Rickards - War With Iran has Begun

    With oil near $100 and many people worried about what is going to happen with Iran and the Straits of Hormuz, today King World News interviewed resident expert Jim Rickards. Rickards negotiated the release of US hostages from Iran in 1981. His advisory clients include government directorates around the world and he is heavily involved in US national security issues and the Department of Defense.

    Rickards has also gained international recognition for his deadly accurate predictions regarding moves by central planners. This is what Rickards had to say about the situation in Iran:

    “Eric, this really could not be more serious. The fact that the United States is on a path to a war with Iran is very clear at this point. It does seem the countdown has begun and it’s coming to a head sooner rather than later.

    “Things are moving very quickly. General Martin Dempsey, who is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has arrived in Israel and Israel is integrating itself with the U.S. European Command or EUCOM. So, at this point, the integration of the Israeli and the US operational capability, including NATO based in Europe, is very far along.

    There are an enormous number of US troops in Israel. I don’t know if people realize that, but they are operating the THAAD system (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense). They oversee weapons that will shoot down incoming Iranian missiles.

    There are joint exercises going on between the US and Israel. At the same time Iran is conducting war games. There are a lot of moving pieces on the chessboard at this point. This is not just war gaming or thinking about what might happen, the pieces have actually begun to move on the chessboard.

    For Israel this is really existential. The US would really like to see a world where Iran did not have nuclear weapons, but for Israel it is not a preference. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, Iran has said they will burn Israel to the ground. So, this is not just a strategic rebalancing, this is life or death for the Israelis.

    All of the information I have is that the US is going to attack Iran. So the tension between Israel and the United States is being resolved in favor of letting the US actually launch the attack.

    Part of the reason for this is the retaliation vector. If the US attacks and Israel keeps out, then Iran has no justification for attacking Israel. They (Iran) will attack US targets in the Middle-East, but we’re ready for that, we’re prepared for that. We will suppress the missiles and their air force is a joke, we’ll take that out in the first day.

    But they do have a serious missile capability. We’ll need anti-missile warfare and we will need to strike those bases. We will need to do a lot of other damage to Iran, cyber warfare, take down the power grid, take down the command and control structure. Do whatever we can to stop them from attacking our assets in the Middle-East.

    This war will be fought with air power, sea power, cyber-warfare, financial warfare, sabotage, special operation, assassination, things like that. This is already going on. As an example, yesterday a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist had an unlucky encounter with a magnet bomb.

    So this war is already being fought. The other day the United States sanctioned the Central Bank of Iran. By the way, we’ve been sanctioning them for years, but we’ve been dialing it up little by little. It’s like the frog that’s boiled in a pot of water and doesn’t know until it’s too late that the water is getting hot.

    President Obama sanctioned the central bank about a week ago. The Iranian currency, the rial, dropped 30% in a single day. Hyperinflation has broken out in Iran. This is financial warfare.

    My point to the listeners is this is not theoretical, this is not a war game, not an exercise, it’s happening now and the clock is ticking.”

    Rickards had a great deal to say about gold, investor psychology, the coming war, how it will impact key players, markets and more. Here is a quick snippet: “If you see the war with Iran happening, and I definitely see it happening, then gold will blow right past $2,000.”

    This is an extremely important interview with one of the top individuals in the world of national security. Rickards also described how this war will be fought and how it will impact major players and countries. The KWN Jim Rickards interview will be available shortly.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Russia: “Should Anything Happen to Iran … This Will Be a Direct Threat to Our National Security”

    Posted on January 14, 2012 by WashingtonsBlog

    Russia and China Would Consider An Attack On Iran – Or Syria – As An Attack On Their National Security

    RT notes:
    The escalating conflict around Iran should be contained by common effort, otherwise the promising Arab Spring will grow into a “scorching Arab Summer,” says Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister and former envoy to NATO.
    *“Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security,” stressed Rogozin.
    Here’s what Rogozin is talking about (notice how close the Southern tip of Russia is to Northern Iran):


    A Chinese general has also allegedly said that China would launch World War III if Iran is attacked. And see this.

    While many Americans still believe that our government would not be crazy enough to attack Iran, economic – not national security – considerations may be driving the warmongers.

    In addition, Iran and Syria have had a mutual defense pact for years. And China and Russia might also defend Syria if it is attacked. So an attack on Syria could draw Iran into the war … followed by China and Russia.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Good Job Obama. Cancelled war games with Israel.

    Now there's a policy you can believe in.....
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    And we wonder why Russia is practicing with their mobile missile groups?
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Iran Threatens To Torpedo US Carriers In The Persian Gulf

    Robert Johnson | Jan. 18, 2012, 12:29 PM | 2,343 | 27


    wikipedia commons

    Underscoring its desire to keep U.S. aircraft carriers from the Persian Gulf, a senior Iranian military commander today announced his possible plan to ambush the American fleet. Chalk this one up to more bluster, or part of a mounting back and forth rhetoric headed nowhere good, either way — Tehran plans to rely on its subs.

    Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Army's Self-Sufficiency Jihad, Rear Admiral Farhad Amiri told FARS that Iran has the finest electric diesel submarines in the world, and that while the U.S. has focused on Tehran's "astonishing surface capabilities," it has forgotten about the underwater threat.

    Amiri said he plans to slip his fleet of subs onto the Persian Gulf floor and "fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously."

    Iran claims to have 17 Ghadir diesel electric subs in its fleet, and four have been photographed together, so the threat is not entirely without merit.
    The Ghadir is incapable of holding a commando crew, and despite scant details it may be well-equipped to follow through on this most recent threat.

    Earlier this month Iran demanded the U.S. remove its carriers from the Gulf after the John C. Stennis passed through the Strait of Hormuz.

    Iranian Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi said "We advise, warn and recommend [the U.S. Navy] not to return this carrier to its previous location in the Persian Gulf."

    "We are not in the habit of repeating the warning and we warn only once," Salehi said, without mentioning the Stennis.

    In a related update: FARS reports that President Obama is calling for direct talks with Iran and communicated this desire through a secret letter to the Islamic Republic's supreme leader.

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    Iranian Submarines' Ambush for US Aircraft Carriers in Persian Gulf

    TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian military commander underlined that the Iranian Navy's subsurface vessels enjoy a high capability to confront enemies' threats, and stated that Iran's submarines are able to ambush and hit enemy vessels specially US Aircraft carriers from the seabed throughout the Persian Gulf.



    Speaking to FNA on Wednesday, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Army's Self-Sufficiency Jihad Rear Admiral Farhad Amiri said that Iran has the best electronic diesel submarines of the world, adding that enemies, the US in particular, are most focused on Iran's astonishing subsurface capabilities.

    Amiri underlined that significance of submarines are not just indebted to their arms and equipment, "rather the tactical issues are very important", given the geographical specifications of the waters surrounding the county.

    "For example," he stated, "if an ordinary submarines can sit in the Persian Gulf's bed it would be the worst threat to the enemy."

    "That is one of the US concerns since Iranian submarines are noiseless and can easily evade detection as they are equipped with the sonar-evading technology" and can fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously, he added.

    "When the submarine sits on the seabed it can easily target and hit an aircraft carrier traversing in the nearby regions," Amiri reiterated.

    Earlier this month, Iranian Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi called on the US to avoid sending back its military ships and aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf after Iran's naval drills forced Washington to bring one of its carriers out of the strategic region.

    Speaking on the sidelines of the naval parades in the Sea of Oman at the end of Velayat 90 massive naval drills, Salehi said that the US brought the aircraft carrier out of the Persian Gulf and the vessel passed through the Strait of Hormoz and stationed in the Sea of Oman before the start of Iran's naval drills.

    As regards Iran's reaction to the vessel's redeployment, Salehi stated, "We advise, warn and recommend them (US Navy) not to return this carrier to its previous location in the Persian Gulf."

    "We are not in the habit of repeating the warning and we warn only once," Salehi reiterated, without mentioning the name of the US aircraft carrier.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    If they drop one torp in the water, it's gonna be "All on" with them. LOL

    More saber rattling from a bunch of religious kooks and fruitcakes.
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Executive Branch - POLITICS
    Iranian lawmaker says Obama proposed direct talks in letter

    Published January 18, 2012

    | Associated Press

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    AP

    Jan. 13, 2012: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves to reporters from his airplane at an air base as he departs Quito, Ecuador.

    TEHRAN, Iran – The White House had no immediate comment Wednesday on a claim from an Iranian lawmaker that President Obama called for direct talks with Iran in a secret letter to the Islamic Republic's supreme leader that also warned Tehran against closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

    Iran has threatened to close the waterway, the route for about one-sixth of the global oil flow, because of new U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.

    Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari revealed the content of the letter days after the Obama administration said it was warning Iran through public and private channels against any action that threatens the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.

    Related Stories
    Iran: Oil embargo means 'economic suicide' for EU
    Israel: Nuclear Iran could deter military action

    "In the letter, Obama called for direct talks with Iran," the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Motahari as saying Wednesday. "The letter also said that closing the Strait of Hormuz is (Washington's) red line."

    "The first part of the letter contains threats and the second part contains an offer for dialogue," he added.

    Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast confirmed that Tehran received the letter and was considering a possible response.

    The White House had no comment Wednesday. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor pointed to the administration warning efforts that were revealed Friday.

    Spokesmen have been vague on what the United States would do about Iran's threat to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but military officials have been clear that the U.S. is readying for a possible naval clash.

    Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the country's most powerful military force, says Tehran's leadership has decided to order the closure of the oil route if Iran's oil exports are blocked. A senior Guard officer said earlier this month that the decision has been made by Iran's top authorities.

    Iranian politicians have made the threat in the past, but this was the strongest statement yet that a closure of the strait is official policy.

    Iran's regular army recently held naval war games near the vital waterway that were described by hard-liners as part of preparations to close the strait if sanctions are imposed. The Guard is planning major naval military exercises next month in the same region.

    The U.S. last month enacted new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and its ability to sell petroleum abroad over Tehran's nuclear program. The U.S. has delayed implementing the sanctions for at least six months, worried about sending the price of oil higher at a time when the global economy is struggling.

    Closing the strait would have immense world economic impact. Iran is OPEC's second largest oil producer, and oil exports account for 80 percent of Iran's foreign currency income. To Tehran, an oil embargo would be tantamount to a declaration of war that could provoke the Iranian leadership to block the Hormuz strait.

    At issue is Iran's nuclear program. The U.S., Israel and others charge that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Their case was bolstered by a report from the International Atomic Energy late last year, citing evidence that Iran was employing methods and equipment used in making bombs.

    Iran has consistently denied that, saying its nuclear program is peaceful, aimed at producing electric power and isotopes for cancer treatment.
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    US: International pressure affecting Iran

    Senior Obama Administration official tells Israeli reporters Washington has set clear policy, timetable for tackling Iranian nuclear program
    Yitzhak Benhorin
    Published: 01.18.12, 18:15 / Israel

    WASHINGTON – The American administration has clarified that it has a plan and timetable for tackling the Iranian nuclear program and that the method of action will be aggressive and quick.

    Less than a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the sanctions imposed by the West on Iran were working, and two days after he reneged on that statement, a senior Obama Administration official said Wednesday that the US government was implementing a policy to reduce Tehran's profits on oil so that it won't be able to fund the nuclear project.

    The international pressure is affecting Iran, the official told Israeli reporters in a special press briefing.

    According to the official, the US has set a timetable for the full implementation of international sanctions against Iran, which would be immediately set in motion and imposed against countries violating them.

    US President Barack Obama signed sanctions against Iran's central bank into a law on the last day of 2011, and the sanctions against countries and financial institutions which will continue doing business with the Iranian central bank on issues unrelated to oil will take effect within two months.

    According to the timetable, four months later the US will fully impose sanctions on countries and companies which will continue engaging in oil-related business with the Islamic Republic.

    'Aggressive measures'

    According to the official, the US is using aggressive measures and government emissaries are holding talks with different countries around the world in a bid to create a combined process: An attempt to diversify their energy sources while guaranteeing an increased supply of oil from Saudi Arabia and Libya – and at a later stage, from Iraq as well.

    The Americans, the official said, have begun identifying attempts by countries like China, India and other oil consumers who have been trading with Iran to diversify their energy sources in order to reduce oil imports from Iran.

    The official stressed, however, that the sanctions cannot be implemented immediately and in a sweeping manner, as such an act would lead to an immediate increase in oil prices and an Iranian profit even if it does export less oil.



    Meanwhile, an Iranian lawmaker has claimed that the American president sent a secret letter to Iran's supreme leader, calling for direct talks between the two countries.

    The remarks, quoted by Iranian news agency Fars, also included an American warning that any disruption of traffic flowing through the Strait of Hormuz oil route would be considered a red line for Washington.
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    NATO says Strait of Hormuz must remain open for oil supply
    1/18/2012 7:05:00 PM | World News
    BRUSSELS, Jan 18 (KUNA) -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Wednesday stressed that the Strait of Hormuz must remain open for the supply of oil and called on Iranian authorities to behave responsibly.
    "It is of outmost importance to make sure that energy supplies continue to flow through the vital waterway, the Strait of Hormuz," he told a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at NATO headquarters in Brussels this afternoon.
    "I would like to stress that the Iranian authorities have a duty to act as responsible international actors and in accordance with international law," he said.
    Rasmussen, however, added that NATO has no plans for intervention in the region.
    The NATO chief was replying to a question on threats made by some Iranian officials to close the Strait of Hormuz if the West imposes an oil embargo on the Islamic Republic. (end) nk.hb KUNA 181905 Jan 12NNNN
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    The Mortal Threat From Iran

    Iran can sea-launch from off our coasts. Germany planned this in World War II. If cocaine can be smuggled into the U.S. without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of an Iranian nuke ending up in Manhattan.



    By MARK HELPRIN

    To assume that Iran will not close the Strait of Hormuz is to assume that primitive religious fanatics will perform cost-benefit analyses the way they are done at Wharton. They won't, especially if the oil that is their life's blood is threatened. If Iran does close the strait, we will fight an air and naval war derivative of and yet peripheral to the Iranian nuclear program, a mortal threat the president of the United States has inadequately addressed.


    A mortal threat when Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes, because immediately upon possession all remedies are severely restricted. Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe and thereby cleave it from American interests in the Middle East; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrent so as to limit it to the attrition of conventional battle, or to destroy it with one lucky shot; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia, which aided by geography and American arms now outclasses it; and to threaten the U.S. directly.


    In the absence of measures beyond pinpoint sanctions and unenforceable resolutions, Iran will get nuclear weapons, which in its eyes are an existential necessity. We have long known and done nothing about this, preferring to dance with the absurd Iranian claim that it is seeking electricity. With rampant inflation and unemployment, a housing crisis, and gasoline rationing, why spend $1,000-$2,000 per kilowatt to build nuclear plants instead of $400-$800 for gas, when you possess the second largest gas reserves in the world? In 2005, Iran consumed 3.6 trillion cubic feet of its 974 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves, which are enough to last 270 years. We know that in 2006—generation exceeding consumption by 10%—Iran exported electricity and planned a high-tension line to Russia to export more.


    Accommodationists argue that a rational Iran can be contained. Not the Iran with a revered tradition of deception; that during its war with Iraq pushed 100,000 young children to their deaths clearing minefields; that counts 15% of its population as "Volunteer Martyrs"; that chants "Death to America" at each session of parliament; and whose president states that no art "is more beautiful . . . than the art of the martyr's death." Not the Iran in thrall to medieval norms and suffering continual tension and crises.



    Its conceptions of nuclear strategy are very likely to be looser, and its thresholds lower, than those of Russia and China, which are in turn famously looser and lower than our own. And yet Eisenhower and Churchill weighed a nuclear option in Korea, Kennedy a first strike upon the U.S.S.R., and Westmoreland upon North Vietnam. How then can we be certain that Iran is rational and containable?








    Associated Press Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad



    Inexpert experts will state that Iran cannot strike with nuclear weapons. But let us count the ways. It has the aerial tankerage to sustain one or two planes that might slip past air defenses between it and Israel, Europe, or the U.S., combining radar signatures with those of cleared commercial flights. As Iran increases its ballistic missile ranges and we strangle our missile defenses, America will face a potential launch from Iranian territory.
    Iran can sea-launch from off our coasts. Germany planned this in World War II. Subsequently, the U.S. completed 67 water-supported launches, ending as recently as 1980; the U.S.S.R. had two similar programs; and Iran itself has sea-launched from a barge in the Caspian. And if in 2007, for example, 1,100 metric tons of cocaine were smuggled from South America without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of Iranian nuclear charges of 500 pounds or less ending up in Manhattan or on Pennsylvania Avenue.
    The probabilities of the above are subject to the grave multiplication of nuclear weapons. Of all things in respect to the Iranian nuclear question, this is the most overlooked. A 1-in-20 chance of breaking a leg is substantially different from a 1-in-20 chance of dying, itself different from a 1-in-20 chance of half a million people dying. Cost drastically changes the nature of risk, although we persist in ignoring this. Assuming that we are a people worthy of defending ourselves, what can be done?
    Much easier before Iran recently began to burrow into bedrock, it is still possible for the U.S., and even Israel at greater peril, to halt the Iranian nuclear program for years to come. Massive ordnance penetrators; lesser but precision-guided penetrators "drilling" one after another; fuel-air detonations with almost the force of nuclear weapons; high-power microwave attack; the destruction of laboratories, unhardened targets, and the Iranian electrical grid; and other means, can be combined to great effect.
    Unlike North Korea, Iran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, does not have the potential of overwhelming an American ally, and is not of sufficient concern to Russia and China, its lukewarm patrons, for them to war on its behalf. It is incapable of withholding its oil without damaging itself irreparably, and even were it to cease production entirely, the Saudis—in whose interest the elimination of Iranian nuclear potential is paramount—could easily make up the shortfall. Though Iran might attack Saudi oil facilities, it could not damage them fatally. The Gulf would be closed until Iranian air, naval, and missile forces there were scrubbed out of existence by the U.S., probably France and Britain, and the Saudis themselves, in a few weeks.
    It is true that Iranian proxies would attempt to exact a price in terror world-wide, but this is not new, we would brace for the reprisals, and although they would peak, they would then subside. The cost would be far less than that of permitting the power of nuclear destruction to a vengeful, martyrdom-obsessed state in the midst of a never-subsiding fury against the West.
    Any president of the United States fit for the office should someday, soon, say to the American people that in his judgment Iran—because of its longstanding and implacable push for nuclear weapons, its express hostility to the U.S., Israel and the West, and its record of barbarity and terror—must be deprived of the capacity to wound this country and its allies such as they have never been wounded before.
    Relying solely upon his oath, holding in abeyance any consideration of politics or transient opinion, and eager to defend his decision in exquisite detail, he should order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex. When they have complied, and our pilots are in the air on their way home, they will have protected our children in their beds—and our children's children, many years from now, in theirs. May this country always have clear enough sight and strong enough will to stand for itself in the face of mortal threat, and in time.
    Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, the novels "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt).
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Plant sonibuoys all over the Gulf. Navy SEALS, little subs, find the Iranian bottom feeders and kill them. Drop them to the bottom of the Gulf for good. End of threat. End of bluster.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Iran says in touch with powers on new talks, EU denies it





    By Robin Pomeroy and Ramin Mostafavi
    TEHRAN | Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:03pm EST

    (Reuters) - Iran said on Wednesday it was in touch with big powers to hold fresh talks soon but the European Union denied it, with Britain saying Tehran had yet to show willingness for negotiations addressing suspicions that it trying to develop atom bombs.
    A year after the last talks fell apart, confrontation is brewing as the EU prepare to dramatically intensify international sanctions against Iran with an embargo on its economically vital oil exports.
    Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, used for a third of the world's seaborne oil exports, if it cannot sell its own crude, fanning fears of a descent into war in the Gulf that could inflame the Middle East.
    Iranian politicians said U.S. President Barack Obama had expressed readiness to negotiate in a letter to Tehran, a step that might relieve tensions behind recent oil price spikes.
    "Negotiations are going on about venue and date. We would like to have these negotiations," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters during a visit to Turkey.
    "Most probably, I am not sure yet, the venue will be Istanbul. The day is not yet settled, but it will be soon."
    A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, representing the six powers, denied there were any fresh discussions with the Islamic Republic to organize a meeting.
    "There are no negotiations under way on new talks," he said in Brussels. "We are still waiting for Iran to respond to the substantive proposals the High Representative (Ashton) made in her letter from October." Iran has yet to formally respond.
    Ashton wrote to Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili to stress that the West still wanted to resume talks but Iran must be ready to engage "seriously in meaningful discussions" about ways to ensure its nuclear work would be wholly peaceful in nature.
    The Islamic Republic has in sporadic meetings over the past five years insisted that talks focus on broader international security issues, not its nuclear energy program.
    Britain also dismissed Salehi's remarks. "There are no dates or concrete plans because Iran has yet to demonstrate clearly it is willing to respond to Baroness Ashton's letter and negotiate without preconditions," a Foreign Office spokesman said.
    "Until it does so, the international community will only increase pressure on it through further peaceful and legitimate sanctions," he said.
    Iran denies wanting nuclear bombs, saying its enrichment work is for power generation and medical applications.
    PROTRACTED IMPASSE
    The last talks between Iran and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- along with Germany stalled in Istanbul a year ago, with the parties unable to agree even on an agenda.
    Since then, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report has lent weight to concern that Iran has worked on designing a nuclear weapon and Washington and the EU have turned to extending hitherto modest sanctions in place since 2006 to target Iranian oil.
    EU foreign ministers are expected to approve a phased ban on imports of Iranian oil at a meeting on January 23 - three weeks after the United States passed a law that would freeze out any institution dealing with Iran's central bank, effectively making it impossible for most countries to buy Iranian oil.
    "Ahead of (that meeting) Iran is chasing headlines and pretending that it is ready to engage," a Western diplomat said in reference to Salehi's remarks. "If it really is ready to sit down without preconditions the (six powers) would do so. Sadly, at the moment, it seems more interested in propaganda."
    Iran has said it is ready to talk but has also started shifting uranium enrichment to a deep bunker where it would be less vulnerable to the air strikes Israel says it could launch if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran's nuclear drive.
    Western diplomats say Tehran must show willingness to change its course in any new talks. Crucially, Tehran says other countries must respect its right to enrich uranium, the nuclear fuel which, if enriched to much higher levels than that suitable for power plants, can provide material for atomic bombs.
    Russia, a member of the six power group that has criticized the new EU and U.S. sanctions, said the last-ditch military option mooted by the United States and Israel would ignite a disastrous, widespread Middle East war.
    "On the chances of whether this catastrophe will happen or not you should ask those who repeatedly talk about this," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.
    "I have no doubt that it would pour fuel on a fire which is already smoldering, the hidden smoldering fire of Sunni-Shi'ite (Muslim) confrontation, and beyond that (it would cause) a chain reaction. I don't know where it would stop."
    Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday any decision about an Israeli attack on Iran was "very far off."
    THREATS, FRIENDSHIP
    China, which shares Russia's dislike of the new Western moves to stop Iran exporting oil, said U.S. sanctions that Obama signed into law on December 31 had no basis in international law.
    "As for some countries imposing unilateral sanctions on Iran, that is not international law and other countries are under no obligation to participate," Li Song, a deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, told an online question-and-answer session.
    Iranian politicians said that in reply to Tehran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, if sanctions prevent it selling oil, Obama has written to the senior cleric who sits atop the Islamic Republic's power structure.
    While Washington has yet to comment on the reported letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, several members of Iran's parliament who discussed the matter on Wednesday said it included the offer of talks.
    "In this letter it was said that closing the Strait of Hormuz is our (U.S.) 'red line' and also asked for direct negotiations," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted lawmaker Ali Mottahari as saying.
    "The first part of letter has a threatening stance and the second part has a stance of negotiation and friendship."
    Washington has often said it has a dual-track approach to Iran, leaving open the offer of talks while seeking ever tighter sanctions as long as Tehran does not rein in its nuclear work.
    But any fresh opening to Tehran might be a risky strategy for Obama in an election year as aspiring Republican presidential challengers compete over who is toughest on a country Washington has long considered a pariah state.
    Ray Takeyh, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a Washington Post column that there were doubts about Tehran's sincerity in wishing to return to negotiations.
    "By threatening the disruption of global oil supplies, yet dangling the prospect of entering talks, Iran can press actors such as Russia and China to be more accommodating in an effort to avoid a crisis that they fear," Takeyh wrote.
    "Any concessions that Iran may make at the negotiating table are bound to be symbolic and reversible."
    (Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Chris Buckley in Beijing, Alexei Anishchuk in Moscow, Justyna Pawlak in Brussels, Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem, Fredrik Dahl in Vienna and Estelle Shirbon in London; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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    Iranian lawmaker: Obama proposed talks; US denies

    ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press

    Updated 01:21 p.m., Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    News




    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian lawmaker claimed Wednesday that President Barack Obama called for direct talks with Iran in a secret letter to the Islamic Republic's supreme leader that also warned Tehran against closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz.


    Obama administration officials denied there was such a letter.


    Iran has threatened to close the waterway, the route for about one-sixth of the global oil flow, because of new U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.


    Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari revealed the content of the letter days after the Obama administration said it was warning Iran through public and private channels against any action that threatens the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.


    "In the letter, Obama called for direct talks with Iran," the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Motahari as saying Wednesday. "The letter also said that closing the Strait of Hormuz is (Washington's) red line."


    "The first part of the letter contains threats and the second part contains an offer for dialogue," he added.


    Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast confirmed that Tehran received the letter and was considering a possible response.


    In Washington, an Obama administration official denied that Obama sent a letter to Khamanei, saying communication of U.S. views were being delivered through other diplomatic messages. The official would give no further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.


    National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor pointed to earlier comments from the Obama administration that noted the U.S. had a number of ways to communicate its views to the Iranian government. He said the U.S. remained committed to engaging with Tehran and finding a diplomatic solution to its larger issues with Iran's nuclear program.


    Spokesmen have been vague on what the United States would do about Iran's threat to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but military officials have been clear that the U.S. is readying for a possible naval clash.


    Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the country's most powerful military force, says Tehran's leadership has decided to order the closure of the oil route if Iran's oil exports are blocked. A senior Guard officer said earlier this month that the decision has been made by Iran's top authorities.


    Iranian politicians have made the threat in the past, but this was the strongest statement yet that a closure of the strait is official policy.


    Iran's regular army recently held naval war games near the vital waterway that were described by hard-liners as part of preparations to close the strait if sanctions are imposed. The Guard is planning major naval military exercises next month in the same region.


    The U.S. last month enacted new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and its ability to sell petroleum abroad over Tehran's nuclear program. The U.S. has delayed implementing the sanctions for at least six months, worried about sending the price of oil higher at a time when the global economy is struggling.


    Closing the strait would have immense world economic impact. Iran is OPEC's second largest oil producer, and oil exports account for 80 percent of Iran's foreign currency income. To Tehran, an oil embargo would be tantamount to a declaration of war that could provoke the Iranian leadership to block the Hormuz strait.


    At issue is Iran's nuclear program. The U.S., Israel and others charge that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Their case was bolstered by a report from the International Atomic Energy late last year, citing evidence that Iran was employing methods and equipment used in making bombs.


    Iran has consistently denied that, saying its nuclear program is peaceful, aimed at producing electric power and isotopes for cancer treatment.
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Iran warns region against stance on Hormuz









    By Ibon Villelabeitia
    ANKARA | Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:08am EST

    (Reuters) - Iran's foreign minister warned Arab neighbors on Thursday not to put themselves in a "dangerous position" by aligning themselves too closely with the United States in the escalating dispute over Tehran's nuclear activity.
    Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, used for a third of the world's seaborne oil trade, if pending Western moves to ban Iranian crude exports cripple its lifeblood energy sector, fanning fears of a descent into wider Middle East war.
    European Union foreign ministers are expected at a meeting on Monday to agree an oil embargo against Iran and a freeze on the assets of its central bank, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said, confirming diplomatic leaks.
    Saudi Arabia, the world's No. 1 oil exporter, riled Iran earlier this week when it said it could swiftly raise oil output for key customers if needed, a scenario that could transpire if Iranian exports were embargoed.
    "We want peace and tranquility in the region. But some of the countries in our region, they want to direct other countries 12,000 miles away from this region," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in English during a visit to Turkey.
    The remark was an apparent reference to the alliance of Iran's Arab neighbors with Washington, which maintains a big naval force in the Gulf and says it will keep the waterway open.
    "I am calling to all countries in the region, please don't let yourselves be dragged into a dangerous position," Salehi told Turkey's NTV broadcaster.
    He added the United States should make clear that it was open for negotiations with Tehran without conditions. He referred to a letter Iran says it received from U.S. President Barack Obama about the situation in the Straight of Hormuz, the contents of which have not been made public.
    "Mr Obama sent a letter to Iranian officials, but America has to make clear that it has good intentions and should express that it's ready for talks without conditions," he said.
    "Out in the open they show their muscles but behind the curtains they plead to us to sit down and talk. America has to pursue a safe and honest strategy so we can get the notion that America this time is serious and ready."
    The United States, like other Western countries, says it is prepared to talk to Iran but only if Tehran agrees to discuss halting its enrichment of uranium. Western officials say Iran has been asking for talks "without conditions" as a stalling tactic while refusing to put its nuclear program on the table.
    IAEA SAYS MUST WARN WORLD ABOUT IRAN
    The International Atomic Energy Agency chief said it was his duty to alert the world about possible military aspects to Iran's nuclear campaign, keeping the heat on Tehran ahead of a rare visit by senior IAEA officials for talks on January 29-31.
    "What we know suggests the development of nuclear weapons," he was quoted as saying in comments published in the Financial Times Deutschland on Thursday. "We want to check over everything that could have a military dimension."
    An IAEA delegation, to be headed by Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts, is expected to seek explanations for intelligence information indicating Iran has engaged in research and development relevant for nuclear weapons.
    Tehran denies wanting bombs, saying it is refining uranium only for electricity generation and medical applications.
    Salehi said on Wednesday that Iran was in touch with world powers to reopen talks that he expected to be held soon.
    Washington and the EU quickly denied this, saying they are still waiting for Iran to show it wanted serious negotiations addressing fears that it trying to master ways to build atom bombs behind the facade of a civilian nuclear energy program.
    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after meeting Salehi that all sides were willing to resume talks but the time and place need to be settled. "I will tell Ms. Ashton about the talks today," he told reporters, referring to the EU foreign policy chief who represents the powers on Iran.
    "RED LINE"
    Iranian politicians said Obama had expressed readiness to negotiate in a letter to Iran's clerical supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
    "In this letter it was said that closing the Strait of Hormuz is our (U.S.) 'red line' and also asked for direct negotiations," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted lawmaker Ali Mottahari as saying.
    Washington denied there were any new discussions under way about resuming talks with Iran, but declined to comment on whether Obama had written to Khamenei.
    "There are no current talks about talks," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday.
    "What we are doing, as we have said, is making clear to the Iranians that if they are serious about coming back to a conversation, where they talk openly about their nuclear program, and if they are prepared to come clean with the international community, that we are open to that."
    The Islamic Republic has wanted to discuss only broader international security issues with the powers up to now.
    OIL SANCTIONS PENDING
    The stage was set for international oil sanctions against Iran when Obama signed legislation on December 31 that would freeze out any institution dealing with Iran's central bank, making it impossible for most countries to buy Iranian crude.
    Diplomats said the EU's 27 member states were still mulling details such as when an embargo would start. They were looking into a grace period that would end in July to help some debt-ridden EU states that rely on Iranian oil to adjust to a ban.
    "On the central bank, things have been moving in the right direction...," an EU diplomat said. "There is now wide agreement on the principle. Discussions continue on the details."
    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao defended his country's extensive oil trade with Iran against Western sanctions pressure in comments published on Thursday. Nevertheless, he said, Beijing firmly opposes any Iranian effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
    The last talks between Iran and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - along with Germany stalled in Istanbul a year ago, with the parties unable to agree even on an agenda.
    The six have also failed to agree on a common line in their approach to Iran, a lack of unity that led to a watering down of four earlier rounds of U.N. sanctions adopted since 2006.
    An IAEA report in November lent weight to concerns that Iran has worked on designing a nuclear weapon, and Tehran is shifting enrichment to an underground bunker in a mountain fortified against air attack.
    Israel, which is believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal but sees Iran's nuclear ambitions as a mortal threat, and the United States have not ruled out military action as a last resort to prevent an atomic "breakout" by Tehran.
    However, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that any decision about an Israeli assault on Iran was "very far off."
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the last-ditch military option mooted by U.S. and Israeli leaders would ignite a disastrous, widespread Middle East war. Russia also opposes the new push for oil sanctions, calling it counterproductive.
    (Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi in Tehran, Chris Buckley in Beijing, Phil Stewart in Washington, Alexei Anishchuk in Moscow, Justyna Pawlak in Brussels, Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Peter Graff)
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Iran's UN Ambassador Says Closing Strait of Hormuz an Option


    Peter Hirschberg, ©2012 Bloomberg News
    Thursday, January 19, 2012



    (Adds Japan's exemption request in 13th paragraph.)

    Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Iran's ambassador to the United Nations said closing the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for about a fifth of the world's oil trade, is an option if his country's security is endangered.

    "There is no decision to block and close the Strait of Hormuz unless Iran is threatened seriously and somebody wants to tighten the noose," Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said on the Charlie Rose show, according to a transcript of the interview. "All the options are or would be on the table."

    U.S. and European efforts to tighten economic sanctions on Iran to deter its nuclear program have roiled oil markets and prompted concern a reduction in supply could hurt the global economy. Iran's Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said Dec. 27 that his nation, the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, may close the strait in response to a stricter embargo.

    "We believe that the Strait of Hormuz should be the strait of peace and stability," Khazaee said. "But if foreign powers want to create trouble in the Persian Gulf, of course it would be the right of Iran as well as the rest of the countries in the region to try to defend themselves."

    The threat to block the strait came from "some military people in Iran" and not the government, Khazaee said. The official Islamic Republic News Agency last month cited Rahimi as threatening to halt oil shipments in the event of sanctions, following comments from Navy Commander Habibollah Sayari on Dec. 22 that the military has the capability to "control" access to the waterway.

    'Capabilities'

    General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a television interview that aired Jan. 8 that Iran can block the strait "for a period of time," and the U.S. would take action to reopen it.

    "We've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that," Dempsey said.

    Crude oil for February delivery gained as much as $1.06 to $101.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and has risen 2.6 percent this year.

    U.S. officials are currently in Asia as part of a push to get countries including Japan and South Korea to reduce their oil imports from Iran. Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, said in Tokyo yesterday that Japan, which counts on Iran for about 10 percent of its oil, agreed on the need to increase pressure on the Persian Gulf state to prevent nuclear weapons development.

    'Completely Rejects'

    Einhorn delivered a similar message in South Korea earlier this week. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner visited Tokyo and Beijing last week, with talks focused on Iran. Japanese officials including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda have said cutting Iranian oil shipments must be done in a way to minimize the economic impact.

    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday in Doha, Qatar said his country "completely rejects" Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons while opposing any "extreme" actions in the Strait of Hormuz that would hurt global interests. Sanctions and threats against Iran are counterproductive and risk escalating tensions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said today.

    President Barack Obama last month signed legislation that tightens sanctions on the Persian Gulf state as part of efforts to cut off its main source of income and force the regime to abandon its nuclear development program. Iran is already under four rounds of United Nations sanctions as well as additional U.S. and European Union financial restrictions.

    Exemption Request

    Japanese officials meeting with Einhorn today asked the U.S. to exempt the Asian nation's banks from the law, which penalizes financial institutions doing business with Iran's central bank, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity. The U.S. delegation indicated that the Obama administration will try to avoid hurting the Japanese economy in implementing the law, the official said.

    European Union foreign ministers will meet on Jan. 23 to consider barring oil from Iran. Western nations say Iran's nuclear work may be aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran rejects the allegation, saying its atomic installations are for civilian purposes.

    Khazaee said Iran was moving its enrichment process to more secure, underground facilities, because it was concerned by threats from U.S. and Israeli officials.

    "It doesn't mean that we are intending to do something illegal," he said. Iranians "do not intend, and did not intend, and will not intend to have a weaponization program."

    Khazaee said it was unlikely Israel would try to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

    "There are enough wise politicians around the world to advise them in case if they want to do that not to do it," he said. "So therefore, we don't think that is going to happen."



    --Editors: John Brinsley, Paul Tighe


    To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hirschberg in Hong Kong at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net -0- Jan/19/2012 04:43 GMT
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