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Thread: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

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    The Jitters in Tehran

    Thursday, Feb. 01, 2007


    Although you wouldn't know it listening the bellicose rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's leadership has the jitters. While the President this week stayed on message, proclaiming that "our nation is swiftly on track to becoming a superpower," anxiety over the possibility of a military confrontation with the U.S. in Iraq and further damage to Iran's international position has the country's leaders locked in sober, closed-door consultations. And Tehran's most influential businessmen are again debating whether to transfer their assets abroad. Says political analyst Saeed Laylaz: "At the highest levels of the regime, the situation today is being taken very, very seriously."

    Escalating tensions with the U.S. are sufficiently worrisome that former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is once again leading a drive to contain Ahmadinejad and his political ambitions. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who heads the executive branch in Iran's system, asked Rafsanjani — who was beaten by Ahmadinejad in the last presidential election — to spearhead a similar effort last year, after Ahmadinejad's remarks about Israel sparked an international outcry. That intervention was late and ineffective, but this time Rafsanjani is moving more quickly and aggressively to defuse tensions with the West. The former president has been meeting with MPs critical of the President, and issued a terse and rare reprimand after a recent presidential speech. Official and semi-official media have joined the effort to curb Ahmadinejad, with two prominent newspapers in the past month running editorials critical of the President, calling his foreign policy obtuse and ordering him to stay out of diplomacy over the country's nuclear program. Even Baztab, the conservative news website connected with Mohsen Rezai, former Revolutionary Guard commander and current secretary of the powerful Expediency Council, is running analyses of U.S.-Iran relations with headlines such as "How to prevent confrontation between the lion and the eagle."

    Even more revealing than the skittish media and internal political maneuvering, analysts here say, is Tehran's muted response to the U.S. military's detention of Iranian security officials in Iraq, and the raid on its official liaison office in Erbil. Both acts might have provoked a harsher response were Tehran more confident that Washington's confrontational rhetoric was meant only to intimidate. Former president Mohammad Khatami, viewed here as a valuable interlocutor in dealing with the United States, attended a session with Senator Bob Kerrey at the World Economic Summit in Davos — under normal circumstances such a meeting would leave radicals here livid.
    With the United States resistant to opening talks with Tehran over Iraq and the nuclear issue, Iran's leaders are divided over what to concede in their attempts to head off a potential clash. The country's response to the U.N. Security Council's Feb. 20 deadline to cease uranium enrichment will be the first real test of whether Iran will blink. But even if officials here are increasingly anxious about the approaching deadline and rising tension with Washington, ordinary Iranians — mostly relying for information on newspapers that downplay the crisis — feel secure. "America has already shown in Iraq that it can't do anything," say Jaleh Momeni, a 26-year-old secretary in Tehran. "They don't dare attack us."

    http://www.time.com/time/world/artic...584842,00.html

    Jag
    ZADEH MOAVENI/TEHRAN

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    The Sunday TimesFebruary 04, 2007

    Iranian nuclear scientist ‘assassinated by Mossad’

    Sarah Baxter, Washington
    A PRIZE-WINNING Iranian nuclear scientist has died in mysterious circumstances, according to Radio Farda, which is funded by the US State Department and broadcasts to Iran.


    An intelligence source suggested that Ardeshire Hassanpour, 44, a nuclear physicist, had been assassinated by Mossad, the Israeli security service.

    Hassanpour worked at a plant in Isfahan where uranium hexafluoride gas is produced. The gas is needed to enrich uranium in another plant at Natanz which has become the focus of concerns that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons.

    According to Radio Farda, Iranian reports of Hassanpour’s death emerged on January 21 after a delay of six days, giving the cause as “gas poisoning”. The Iranian reports did not say how or where Hassanpour was poisoned but his death was said to have been announced at a conference on nuclear safety.

    Rheva Bhalla of Stratfor, the US intelligence company, claimed on Friday that Hassanpour had been targeted by Mossad and that there was “very strong intelligence” to suggest that he had been assassinated by the Israelis, who have repeatedly threatened to prevent Iran acquiring the bomb.

    Hassanpour won Iran’s leading military research prize in 2004 and was awarded top prize at the Kharazmi international science festival in Iran last year.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to announce next Sunday — the 28th anniversary of the Islamic revolution — that 3,000 centrifuges have been installed at Natanz, enabling Iran to move closer to industrial scale uranium enrichment. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency say that hundreds of technicians and labourers have been “working feverishly” to assemble equipment at the plant.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...583167,00.html

    Someone's got to do it! Thumbs up Mossad...
    Jag

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    Iran test fires Russian missiles near Strait of Hormuz

    www.iht.com ^ | Feb 7, 2007




    Iran test fires Russian missiles near Strait of Hormuz The Associated PressPublished: February 7, 2007


    TEHRAN, Iran: Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards test fired its new Russian defense missile system Wednesday near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, state radio reported.


    The two-day maneuvers are Iran's second since the United Nations Security Council approved economic sanctions against it Dec. 23, which ban selling to Iran materials and technology that it could use in its nuclear and missile programs.


    As tensions rise over Iran's nuclear standoff with the West, the United States and Iran have pursued an escalating series of military moves, with Washington sending a second aircraft carrier battle group to the region and Iran responding with more frequent maneuvers.


    The Revolutionary Guards' began the games Wednesday in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, which flank the strait, through which some 20 percent of the world's oil transits daily.

    (Excerpt) Read more at iht.com ...
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    Tehran warns US against attacks

    ["Iran will strike against US interests"]

    BBC ^ | 08FEB07 | BBC



    Ayatollah Khamenei says Iran has a right to nuclear power

    Iran will strike against US interests worldwide if it is attacked, the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned.


    "The enemies know well that any aggression will lead to a reaction from all sides," he said.
    Washington accuses Tehran of secretly trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and has not ruled out using military force.


    The Iranians insist their nuclear programme is purely civilian and aimed at meeting their energy needs.


    The BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says Ayatollah Khamenei was defiant about the prospect of a possible American military strike.


    The supreme leader said he hoped nobody would risk attacking Iran because the nation would stand up for itself and only become stronger militarily and economically.


    War games
    Another key Iranian figure, ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has also warned against a strike, saying it would carry a heavy cost for those who tried it.


    Diplomats were shown the Isfahan nuclear plant at the weekend

    The warnings come as Iran is conducting fresh war games.



    Iran says it has successfully test-fired a land-to-sea missile with a range of 350km (220 miles).


    Tehran says it has also tested a new Russian-made air defence system.
    Officials have refused to confirm whether the system has been deployed around nuclear sites.




    At the weekend ambassadors from non-aligned countries were allowed to visit an Iranian nuclear facility, on what was billed as a transparency visit.


    The UN's chief nuclear inspector is to report on Tehran's compliance with the UN Security Council's demands later this month.


    In December the UN imposed limited sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
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    Iran says tests missiles able to sink "big warships"

    reuters ^ | Feb 8, 2007 | Reuters



    EHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards test fired missiles in wargames on Thursday which a commander said could sink "big warships" in the Gulf, Sea of Oman and the north of the Indian Ocean, the state broadcaster said.


    Iran is at loggerheads with the United States over its disputed nuclear program and what Washington calls its meddling in Iraq. The United States has ordered a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf to step up pressure on Iran.


    "These missiles, with a maximum range of 350 km (220 miles), can hit different kinds of big warships in all of the Persian Gulf, all of the Sea of Oman and the north of the Indian Ocean," senior Revolutionary Guards naval commander Ali Fadavi said.


    Fadavi was also quoted by the state broadcaster's Web site as saying that the warhead of this missile had the capacity to sink "all kinds of big warships".


    State television reported that the missile tests, staged on the second day of wargames by the Guards' naval and air units, were "to show that Iran is able to confront any possible threats."


    Washington accuses the Iran of seeking to develop atomic weapons, a charge Iran denies. Tehran also dismisses allegations that it is backing militants in Iraq.
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    Next stop Iran?
    Economist ^ | Feb. 8, 2007 | Staff

    Why George Bush should resist a Wagnerian exit from the White House

    “WE ARE not planning for a war with Iran.” So said Robert Gates, America's new defence secretary, on February 2nd. You cannot be much clearer than that. With a weak and isolated president, and an army bogged down in the misery of Iraq, the American Congress and people are hardly in fighting mood. Nonetheless, and despite Mr Gates's calming words, Iran and America are heading for a collision. Although the risk is hard to quantify, there exists a real possibility that George Bush will order a military strike on Iran some time before he leaves the White House two years from now.

    America and Iran have been at loggerheads ever since Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution of 1979. But four things are making this old antagonism newly dangerous. One is Iran's apparent determination to build nuclear weapons, and a fear that it is nearing the point where its nuclear programme will be impossible to stop (see article). The second is the advent of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a populist president who denies the Holocaust and calls openly for Israel's destruction: his apocalyptic speeches have convinced many people in Israel and America that the world is facing a new Hitler with genocidal intent. The third is a recent tendency inside the Bush administration to blame Iran for many of America's troubles not just in Iraq but throughout the Middle East.

    Any one of these would be destabilising enough on its own. Added together, they make the possibility of miscalculation and a slide into war a great deal more likely. That is all the more so when they are combined with a fourth new source of friction between America and Iran. This is the predicament of Mr Bush. A president who is now detached from electoral considerations knows that his place in history is going to be defined by the tests he himself chose to put at the centre of his foreign policy: bringing democracy to the Middle East and preventing rogue regimes from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Given his excessive willingness to blame Iran for blocking America's noble aims in the Middle East, he may come to see a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear programme as a fitting way to redeem his presidency. That would be a mistake.

    Never attack a revolution

    This newspaper supported America's invasion of Iraq. We believed, erroneously, that Saddam Hussein was working to acquire nuclear weapons. And we judged that the world should not allow a mass-murderer to gather such lethal power in his hands. In the case of Iran, the balance of risks points, though only just, in the other direction.

    Even if it became clear that Iran was on the threshold of acquiring an atomic bomb, an American strike on its nuclear facilities would be a reckless gamble. Without America invading and occupying Iran—unthinkable after Iraq—such a strike would at best delay rather than end Iran's nuclear ambitions. It might very well rally support behind a regime that is at present not conspicuously popular at home, emboldening it to retaliate inside Iraq, against Israel and perhaps against the United States itself. Besides, it is far from clear exactly how dangerous a nuclear-armed Iran would be. Unlike Iraq under Saddam, Iran has a complex power structure with elements of pluralism and many checks and balances. For all its proclaimed religiosity, it has behaved since the revolution like a rational actor. To be sure, some of its regional aims are mischievous, and in pursuing them it has adopted foul means, including terrorism. But the ayatollahs have so far been shrewd calculators of consequences. There are already small signs of a backlash against the attention-seeking Mr Ahmadinejad. Like the Soviet Union, a nuclear Iran could probably be deterred.

    But don't think Iran isn't dangerous

    All of this suggests that in present circumstances it would be wrong for America to launch a military strike against Iran. But it would be the height of self-deception for anyone to jump to the conclusion that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be dangerous at all. It would be very dangerous indeed.

    For a start, there is a danger that Iran's nuclear efforts will provoke a pre-emptive strike by Israel, which is already a nuclear power, albeit an undeclared one. For Israelis, whose country Mr Ahmadinejad says he wants to wipe off the map, it is not all that reassuring to hear that Iran can “probably” be deterred. Even if Israel were to decide against such a strike, Iran's going nuclear could destroy what is left of the international non-proliferation regime. It has proved hard enough for Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia to live with Israel's undeclared bomb; if their Iranian rival got one too, the race to copy might soon be on. On top of this is the danger that a nuclear Iran would feel safe to ramp up attempts to spread its revolution violently beyond its own borders.

    Every effort should be made to stop an Iranian bomb. But there is a better way than an armed strike. In 2002 Mr Bush consigned Iran along with Iraq and North Korea to an “axis of evil”. Since 2004, for lack of good alternatives, he has been helping the efforts of Britain, France and Germany to talk rather than bludgeon Iran into nuclear compliance. Iran claims that its nuclear programme is for civil purposes only. Last year, the Europeans called its bluff by offering trade, civil-nuclear assistance and a promise of talks with America if it stopped enriching the uranium that could produce the fuel for a bomb. When Iran refused, diplomacy led in December to the imposition of economic sanctions by the Security Council.

    This is a promising approach. The diplomacy at the United Nations proceeds at a glacial pace. But Iran is thought to be several years from a bomb. And meanwhile the Americans, Europeans, Russians and Chinese have at last all lined up on the same side of the argument. What is required now is a further tightening of the economic squeeze coupled with some sort of an incentive—most usefully an unambiguous promise from Mr Bush that if Iran returns to compliance with the nuclear rules it will face no attempt by America to overthrow the regime. Even then, America and Iran may be fated to lock horns in the Middle East. But the region, and the world, will be a good deal safer without the shadow of an Iranian bomb.
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    At long last, the soft underbelly is revealed
    Times ^ | Feb. 9, 2007 | Bronwen Maddox

    For the first time in four years, the US has a good card to play in threatening Iran. But its decision this week to try to sever Iran’s links with financial markets is revealing how successful Tehran has been in building those ties and how many friends it can claim.

    The US has picked this week’s Munich security conference, which began last night, to challenge the European Union to join it in a rough and ready form of financial sanctions, in an attempt to persuade Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions. The timing is excellent: Iran is scrambling to make the most of the fading boom in oil prices, and to strike commercial deals to reduce its vulnerability to pressure.

    In a gesture of defiance, Iran test-fired a new land-to-sea missile yesterday with a range of more than 200 miles (300km). “We have successfully fired a cruise missile . . . hitting targets in the Sea of Oman and northern Indian Ocean,” Ali Fadavi, deputy navy commander, said. “This missile . . . can hit all kinds of big warships in all of the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman and northern Indian Ocean,” he added.

    Recent warship deployment by the US has been an unsubtle advertisement of its military ability to strike Iran, even if that proves politically impossible.

    Gregory Schulte, the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, used Munich to accuse European countries of doing too little to join the US in cracking down on Tehran, a complaint that US officials have been lobbing at Europeans in private since last year.

    The US has its eye on the extensive commercial relationships between Iran and Austria, Italy, Germany, France, Spain and, to some extent, Britain. The American demand has become public since the success of its unilateral drive to shut Iran out of the financial markets. Its blacklisting of the state-owned Saderat and Sepah banks — meaning that they cannot carry out transactions in US dollars — has had a discernible impact on Iran, more than the loose trade sanctions that the UN has agreed separately.

    In the past two months, Iran has been asking for payments for oil revenues and other exports in euros, not dollars. It is now believed to be conducting much of its foreign exchange transactions in euros or United Arab Emirates dirhams. The Government has also been reported to have been shifting its foreign-held assets out of dollars into euros. From one point of view, it is surprising that Iran should feel vulnerable: it is one of the world’s biggest oil producers; has a list of customers for that oil who are not about to walk away; and has enjoyed four years of unexpected high revenue from that production.

    But President Ahmadinejad, whose critics at home attack him for economic mismanagement, is under pressure to return more of the benefits of the boom to ordinary Iranians, as he promised in his election campaign. Two weeks ago, in his budget for the coming year, he said that he planned to spend a fifth more than last year and to set aside more of oil revenues for infrastructure. Among other urgent needs, Iran is trying to invest more in oil refining. Because it refines so little of its own oil, it has to import petrol, and so in times of rising oil prices the Government has to pay huge subsidies to prevent ordinary people being hit by rising prices. That soaks up some of the benefit it receives from higher oil prices.

    The Government’s difficulty in tackling this obvious vulnerability, an oddity in so significant an oil producer, has given hope to those who fear that it wants to develop nuclear weapons. It insists that it wants merely to equip itself with civil nuclear power stations, but analysts calculate that if it masters the technology that it says it is installing, it could be only three or four years away from a bomb. It has not yet mastered the crucial nuclear technology, and its separate difficulties in increasing refining capacity are a reminder of the barrier that its semi-isolation has proved to be.

    Iran’s strongest defence against such pressure will be the web of alliances that it has carefully struck up. On Wednesday, its Armed Forces test-fired a new Russian-made air defence system, sold to Iran despite fierce US criticism. It is also in advanced talks with Indian investors about building new oil refineries.

    This week Swiss banks also said that they would not stop dealing with Iranian companies or individuals, provided that they were engaged in legitimate activities. “We should differentiate between rogue states that we should not deal with and the citizens of the same country,” the chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association said.

    It has been some time since the US had a clear tactic in dealing with Iran. It now does: to peel off Iran’s friends, starting with the EU. But that may not be as easy as the US, judging by its indignation, thinks that it should be.
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    ElBaradei Warns US and Iran against an Unstoppable Chain Reaction
    Der Spiegel ^ | Feb. 9, 2007 | Georg Mascolo

    With Iran now threatening America with new missiles and the United States hunting down agents of the mullahs in Iraq, the conflict in the Middle East is again threatening to escalate. Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei warns in a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview: "The Middle East is in the worst condition I have ever seen."

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: The United States government is threatening to capture or kill Iranian agents in Iraq and Tehran has announced it will install thousands of centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium in Natanz. Are we witnessing a dramatic escalation of the conflict?

    ElBaradei: If we continue on the same course, we could see a spiral of escalation. There is an urgent need for creative diplomacy and leadership. Diplomacy is pressure and engagement, and I very much hope that we can find the right balance. A durable, peaceful solution will not come through pressure only. It will ultimately come at the negotiating table.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: You don't sound very optimistic.

    ElBaradei: The United Nations resolution itself recognizes the importance of finding a negotiated solution that will allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran. Clearly the sanctions were the expression of concern by the international community. I think the message was heard loud and clear in Iran.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: So why not simply wait until Iran gives in and stops its nuclear program?

    ElBaradei: My concern is that if we only focus on sanctions, that might lead to confrontation on both sides, ending in an uncontrolled chain reaction. My worry right now is that each side is sticking to their guns: The international community is saying "sanctions or bust," and Iran is saying "nuclear enrichment capability or bust."

    (Excerpt) Read more at spiegel.de ...
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    Foreign warships within missile range: Iran
    indian muslims ^ | 2007 » February » 08 | na




    Tehran, Feb 8 (DPA) In a clear warning to the US, Iran's paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said Thursday that all foreign warships in the Persian Gulf area were within the range of Iranian missiles.


    IRGC commander General Hossein Salami told the news network Khabar that during the current military manoeuvres the recently acquired Tor-M1 missiles were successfully tested. It was proved that all foreign warships operating in the area are within the range of Tor-M1.


    The IRGC started Wednesday a two-day "specialised war game" in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in southern Iran to launch missile tests. The state television network carried pictures of the tests.


    The manoeuvres are aimed at showing Iran's military preparedness following an increased presence of the US naval fleet in the Persian Gulf, including the dispatch of a second aircraft carrier, and speculation about a possible US military operation against the Islamic state.
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    Target Iran: US able to strike in the spring



    Despite denials, Pentagon plans for possible attack on nuclear sites are well advanced

    Ewen MacAskill in Washington
    Saturday February 10, 2007
    The Guardian



    A second battle group has been ordered to the Gulf and extra missiles have already been sent out. Meanwhile oil is being stockpiled. Photograph: Reuters

    US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage, in spite of repeated public denials by the Bush administration, according to informed sources in Washington.


    The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring. But the sources said that if there was an attack, it was more likely next year, just before Mr Bush leaves office.

    Neo-conservatives, particularly at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, are urging Mr Bush to open a new front against Iran. So too is the vice-president, Dick Cheney. The state department and the Pentagon are opposed, as are Democratic congressmen and the overwhelming majority of Republicans. The sources said Mr Bush had not yet made a decision. The Bush administration insists the military build-up is not offensive but aimed at containing Iran and forcing it to make diplomatic concessions. The aim is to persuade Tehran to curb its suspect nuclear weapons programme and abandon ambitions for regional expansion.

    Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, said yesterday: "I don't know how many times the president, secretary [of state Condoleezza] Rice and I have had to repeat that we have no intention of attacking Iran."

    But Vincent Cannistraro, a Washington-based
    intelligence analyst, shared the sources' assessment that Pentagon planning was well under way. "Planning is going on, in spite of public disavowals by Gates. Targets have been selected. For a bombing campaign against nuclear sites, it is quite advanced. The military assets to carry this out are being put in place."

    He added: "We are planning for war. It is incredibly dangerous."

    Deployment

    Mr Cannistraro, who worked for the CIA and the National Security Council, stressed that no decision had been made.

    Last month Mr Bush ordered a second battle group led by the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis to the Gulf in support of the USS Eisenhower. The USS Stennis is due to arrive within the next 10 days. Extra US Patriot missiles have been sent to the region, as well as more minesweepers, in anticipation of Iranian retaliatory action.

    In another sign that preparations are under way, Mr Bush has ordered oil reserves to be stockpiled.
    The danger is that the build-up could spark an accidental war. Iranian officials said on Thursday that they had tested missiles capable of hitting warships in the Gulf.

    Colonel Sam Gardiner, a former air force officer who has carried out war games with Iran as the target, supported the view that planning for an air strike was under way: "Gates said there is no planning for war. We know this is not true. He possibly meant there is no plan for an immediate strike. It was sloppy wording.

    "All the moves being made over the last few weeks are consistent with what you would do if you were going to do an air strike. We have to throw away the notion the US could not do it because it is too tied up in Iraq. It is an air operation."

    One of the main driving forces behind war, apart from the vice-president's office, is the AEI, headquarters of the neo-conservatives. A member of the AEI coined the slogan "axis of evil" that originally lumped Iran in with Iraq and North Korea. Its influence on the White House appeared to be in decline last year amid endless bad news from Iraq, for which it had been a cheerleader. But in the face of opposition from Congress, the Pentagon and state department, Mr Bush opted last month for an AEI plan to send more troops to Iraq. Will he support calls from within the AEI for a strike on Iran?

    Josh Muravchik, a Middle East specialist at the AEI, is among its most vocal supporters of such a strike.

    "I do not think anyone in the US is talking about invasion. We have been chastened by the experience of Iraq, even a hawk like myself." But an air strike was another matter. The danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon "is not just that it might use it out of the blue but as a shield to do all sorts of mischief. I do not believe there will be any way to stop this happening other than physical force."
    Mr Bush is part of the American generation that refuses to forgive Iran for the 1979-81 hostage crisis. He leaves office in January 2009 and has said repeatedly that he does not want a legacy in which Iran has achieved superpower status in the region and come close to acquiring a nuclear weapon capability. The logic of this is that if diplomatic efforts fail to persuade Iran to stop uranium enrichment then the only alternative left is to turn to the military.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story...src=rss&feed=1

    Jag

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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    I dont like these idiots who put stuff like "Neo Conservatives are urging Mr. Bush" etc.

    That lends a MAJOR doubt to any credibility the story MIGHT have had.

    I'm no such thing as a "neo conservative"... I'm a REAGAN REPUBLICAN and they are two different things.

    And I'd urge the use of tactical nukes to take those sites out, make them UNUSABLE or completely offlimits for a few hundred years. Then they can't even go in and salvage anything.
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    I agree with this, amazingly...

    Don't warn them, surprise them. lol

    U.S. Admiral Decries Talk of War on Iran
    Associated Press by way of Forbes ^ | 14FEB07 | AUDREY McAVOY

    The Navy admiral tapped to take command of U.S. forces in the Middle East said any speculation of war with Iran is "unhelpful" and only serves to "up the ante of fear and uncertainty."

    Adm. William J. Fallon told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that Iraq and Afghanistan are priority tasks for the United States in the Middle East. Fighting a war with Iran is not something the U.S. wants, he said.

    "Some in the world are talking some fear of alleged imminent attack by the U.S. on Iran," Fallon said. It "serves no good purpose, (is) unhelpful, distracting and just serving to up the ante of fear and uncertainty."

    Speculation that the U.S. may be planning to attack Iran rose this year after President Bush announced plans to send an additional aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates later said the carrier and its accompanying ships were sent to show Tehran that the Iraq war was not making the U.S. vulnerable.

    The United States also has accused Iran of supplying money, weapons components and training to Shiite militia in Iraq, as well as technology for roadside bombs. Iran has denied the allegations, saying it only has political and religious links with Iraqi Shiites.

    Fallon, who has been confirmed by the Senate to succeed Army Gen. John Abizaid at the Central Command next month, spoke at his Pacific Command headquarters from where he oversees U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

    Fallon reiterated U.S. allegations that Iran is responsible for supporting some of the violence in Iraq. But he expressed hope Tehran would change course and start to play a constructive role.

    "Of significant note, I believe, is the role that Iran is playing directly or indirectly, in fomenting, perpetuating, instability inside Iraq," Fallon said.

    Fallon said he believed Iran could help lower violence in Iraq and Afghanistan - countries on either side of Tehran's borders - but he hadn't yet seen any sign Iran was willing to lend its assistance.

    "I believe that Iran could and should be playing a significant part. How that comes about remains to be seen," Fallon said. "But the idea that we have yet another conflict in this region strikes me as not where we want to go, and not what we want to be engaged in."

    The admiral, who will be the first sailor to lead the Central Command, said he looks forward to seeking suggestions from people in the region on how Iran could help lower the violence.

    U.S. military leaders "are trying to determine exactly what kind of role Iran is going to play in the future - whether they will be helpful or unhelpful, the degree which they will cooperate in efforts to stabilize Iraq," Fallon said.

    The U.S. Senate confirmed Fallon's nomination to head the Tampa, Fla.-based Central Command last week. But he's not expected to take command of U.S. troops in the Middle East until early next month.

    Fallon has headed the Pacific Command overseeing U.S. forces across the Asia-Pacific region for nearly two years, where he placed a priority on expanding military exchanges with China to reduce the potential for miscalculation on either side.

    He also oversaw the reestablishment two years ago of military-to-military ties with Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. Washington cut off military ties with Jakarta in 1999 when Indonesian troops ravaged East Timor during the territory's break from the archipelago.
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    Iranian-US Tit-For-Tat?
    Israelnationalnews.com ^ | February 16, '07 | Ezra HaLevi

    The beginnings of a United States-Iran war?

    Revolutionary Guard Grounds Forces Chief Nur Ali Shushkari claimed that Iranian commandos engraved the Revolutionary Guard’s emblem on the side of the US naval vessel undetected. Shishkari claimed the commandos used a submarine to approach the vessel.

    The announcement was intended to be a threat to the US Army, which continues to build up its presence in the region. So reports Iran’s state-controlled IRNA news service.

    Shortly after the announcement, a busload of Iranian Revolutionary Guards was blown up by a car bomb in the town of Zahedan, in the southeastern region of the Islamic republic, near the Pakistan and Afghanistan borders. IRNA said that the blast killed 11 people.

    An Iranian official was quoted anonymously by IRNA saying the attack was carried out by a US-backed group, “based on evidence gathered.” The report said five suspects have been arrested. “A group which has been on the spotlight of US media propaganda was responsible for the blast,” the official said.

    Governor Hassan-Ali Nouri of Zahedan said the attack was perpetrated by "saboteurs" who parked a bomb-laden car on the side of a road. When the bus passed, two armed men on motorcycles sprayed both the bus and the parked car with bullets, setting off the explosion.
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    Iranian Security Forces, Insurgents, Exchange Gunfire After Bomb Blast
    By VOA News
    16 February 2007

    Reports from Iran say police have exchanged gunfire with militants following an explosion near a school in the southeastern part of the country.

    Iranian news agencies said late Friday that police in the city of Zahedan cordoned off the neighborhood where the incident took place. Electrical power to the area was cut off. It is not clear if there were casualties.

    On Wednesday, a car bomb blast in the same city killed 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

    A Sunni Muslim group, Jundollah, claimed responsibility for that attack. Officials say the group is linked to al-Qaida.

    Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Iran has accused the United States of backing militants in the sensitive border area to destabilize the country.

    http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-02-16-voa58.cfm

    Jag


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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    DEBKAfile Reports: US troops may attack nuclear and military targets in neighboring Iran when a high-casualty attack is traced directly to Tehran

    February 20, 2007, 2:31 PM (GMT+02:00)

    This new presidential directive extends the license President George W. Bush issued last month to US troops to capture or kill Iranian agents supporting Iraqi insurgency and al Qaeda attacks on American forces.

    It is causing great concern in Tehran's ruling circles - especially as the new license may well be applied when the downing of a large US helicopter ends in a heavy US death toll.

    DEBKAfile’s military sources report that American commanders in Iraq are studying the innovative methods for shooting down US aircraft which Iranian Revolutionary Guards instructors are imparting to Iraqi insurgents.

    Maj. Gen James E. Simmons, deputy commander of US forces in Iraq, describes multiple weapons systems fired at the same time as having brought down 7 American helicopters in the last month. This, says Simmons, is the sign of “a thinking enemy” - although sometimes the insurgents appear to have got lucky and hit helicopters with automatic weapons fire as they chanced by.

    The New York Times reports these multiple systems may include shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades – RPGs and unguided rockets that can’t be diverted by American helicopters’ anti-heat-seeking flares.

    Our military sources say this mix of weaponry is designed to ambush the aircraft at any altitude chosen to escape the ground fire.

    Under the new presidential directive, the downing of a helicopter carrying a large number of US troops could trigger a bombing campaign against Iran such as, for example, the dispatch of long-range B2 stealth bombers with bunker-busting bombs for dropping on the 25m deep Natanz site, where centrifuges are positioned for enriching uranium.

    Attacks mount also be mounted against Iran’s military infrastructure.

    http://www.debka.com/index.php

    Jag

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    I am sure this won't meet some people's idea of a "good source" with "reliable witnesses" but tough shit.

    We're going to war, and soon methinks.

    U.S. REPORTS UNPRECEDENTED GULF TENSION
    MENL ^




    ABU DHABI [MENL] -- The U.S. military has determined that the Gulf has been undergoing unprecedented tension amid Iran's arms build-up.
    U.S. officials and officers said Iran's frequent exercises have raised alarm in the six Gulf Arab states. They said Iran has sought to intimidate the Gulf Cooperation Council states against cooperating with the United States.


    "We consider this moment in time unprecedented in terms of the amount of insecurity and instability that is in the region," U.S. Fifth Fleet commander Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh said.


    "Although our presence in the Arabian Gulf is for defensive and not offensive purposes, the U.S. will take military action if ships are attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or U.S. troops come under direct attack," Walsh added.
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    U.S. to continue pushing Iran to return bargaining on nuclear issue: Rice

    Feb 22 9:49 AM US/Eastern

    GEORGE JAHN

    VIENNA, Austria (AP) - With the stage being set for a fresh showdown between Iran and the West, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Washington and its allies would use the UN Security Council and other "available channels" to bring Tehran back to negotiations over its nuclear program.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency was expected to report Thursday that Iran has expanded uranium enrichment efforts instead of meeting international demands to halt them. The finding could lead to Security Council sanctions broader than a limited set imposed by the council last month.

    Even ahead of the report, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned ... that the Iranian government did not meet the (Wednesday) deadline set by the Security Council."

    "I urge again that the Iranian government should fully co-operate with the Security Council" as soon as possible, he told reporters in Vienna, Austria, saying Iran's nuclear activities had "great implications for peace and security, as well as non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

    In addition to the sanctions, the Bush administration has been raising the pressure on Tehran on other fronts, from arresting Iranian officials in Iraq to persuading European governments and financial institutions to cut ties with the Islamic Republic.

    Rice, speaking in Berlin, said that the United States, European and Russian diplomats all want Iran back at the bargaining table.

    "We reconfirmed we will use available channels and the Security Council to try to achieve that goal," she said following a breakfast meeting with her counterparts from Germany, Russia and the European Union.

    The Security Council is demanding an immediate and unconditional stop to uranium enrichment, after which European-led negotiations over an economic reward package could begin. Iran, which has long insisted it will not stop its nuclear activities as a precondition for negotiations, missed Wednesday's Security Council deadline to halt enrichment.

    In conciliatory remarks Wednesday directed at Washington - the key backer of tougher UN action - Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the dispute "has to be decided peacefully with the United States."

    But other top Iranian officials used harsher language, and none showed signs of compromise on the main demand of the U.S. and other world powers - a halt to enrichment and related activities.

    "The enemy is making a big mistake if it thinks it can thwart the will of the Iranian nation to achieve the peaceful use of nuclear technology," Iranian state TV's website quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Wednesday.

    Iran says it has the legal right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium. On Tuesday,Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to halt its enrichment program, but only if western countries do the same.

    Washington dismissed that offer.

    The IAEA planned to send its report on Iran's compliance Thursday to the agency's 35-country board and to the Security Council.

    Although any finding that Iran has ignored the deadline on enrichment would be a step toward additional sanctions, it was not clear whether UN Security Council members Russia and China would go along. Both have veto power.

    Rice said she and her counterparts made no decisions Thursday because they met before the report was released.

    With the United States beefing up naval forces in the Gulf and cracking down on Iranians within Iraq it says are helping Shiite militias, concerns have grown that Washington might be planning military action.

    In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said "the only sensible way" to solve the crisis was to pursue political solutions, but that he could not "absolutely predict every set of circumstances."

    Still, "I know of nobody in Washington that is planning military action on Iran," Blair told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "Iran is not Iraq. There is, as far as I know, no planning going on to make an attack on Iran and people are pursuing a diplomatic and political solution."

    Tehran's refusal to freeze all its enrichment-related activities prompted the Security Council on Dec. 23 to impose sanctions targeting its nuclear and missile programs and persons involved in them. Back then, it gave the country 60 days to halt enrichment or face additional measures.

    Discussions on a new resolution aimed at stepping up pressure on Iran to suspend enrichment were expected to start next week, a Security Council diplomat said in New York, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
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    This is a 2-part post. Part 1 is my own research and analysis on the Iranian capability to produce a nuclear weapon extrapolated from the details within MEMRI-referenced Iranian reports. Part 2 is the MEMRI report


    PART 1

    UF6 is short for solid uranium hexafloride. It is composed of one atom of uranium and 6 atoms of flourine. Upon heating the solid UF6 becomes a liquid. The liquid is pressurized to a gaseous state. This gas is pased through series and parallel formation centifuges. This gas centifuge process results in chain-reacting fissile U-235 and U-238. The fissile U-235 is extracted from the centrifuge and the U-238 is further processed to produce plutonium.

    The MEMRI report below mentions 9 tons of UF6. According to the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM):

    "Therefore, even a small enrichment plant, such as the one that Iran proposes to build at Natanz, which is sized to fuel only a single power reactor, could make enough HEU for tens of bombs a year -- or if 20 tons of 4% LEU were fed into it, could produce enough weapon-grade uranium for four bombs in a little more than a week (see Table 1)."


    http://www.fissilematerials.org/ipfm/pages_us_en/fissile/production/production.php



    Extrapolation of this data would tend to indicate that Iran could actually produce about two atom bombs in a week at Natanz.

    If these reports are accurate, then the window of opportunity to strike the Natanz facility and prevent an indigenous nuclear-armed Iran is closing as you read this post.

    There is a relative probability that particular window may already be closed and a strike at this time would destroy any further Iranian capability to create fissile nuclear material and the weapons grade fissile core they have created this month.





    PART 2

    Special Dispatch – Iran
    February 23, 2007
    No. 1475

    Reports on Iran's Nuclear Progress

    To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit:
    http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD147507

    Recently, the Iranian media have been citing Western sources on accelerated Iranian nuclear activity. It should be stressed that so far, the Iranian regime has neither denied nor confirmed any of these reports.


    The Nine Tons of UF6 Gas Brought to Natanz Could Be Used for One Atom Bomb

    On February 20, 2007, the conservative Iranian news agency Aftab said, in a report attributed to Western sources, that Iran had "at the beginning of the month transferred a container of nine tons of UF6 gas to the nuclear facilities at Natanz. If they wanted to, the Iranians could [now], using this gas, operate a number of centrifug es... If these nine tons of UF6 in this container undergo an enrichment process, it will be possible to produce from them a single atom bomb."(1)

    On February 20, 2007, the ISNA news agency reported that diplomatic sources in Vienna had told it that "in early February 2007, Iran had transferred nine tons of UF6 from the nuclear facilities in Isfahan to the subterranean nuclear facilities at Natanz, in which centrifuge installation began last month."(2)

    On February 22, 2007, the reformist online daily Rooz wrote that this was the joyous news that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had intended to present at nuclear celebrations following the "Ten Days of Fajr" in early February.


    Kayhan: With "One More Step in its Nuclear Program," Iran "Will Force the World to Treat it As It [i.e. Iran] Wants"

    Since early February, a number of reports have appea red in the Iranian media that could hint at this accelerated nuclear activity. In a February 4, 2007 editorial, the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stated that Iran's nuclearization was a fait accompli, and that the West had no choice but to live with a nuclear Iran: "After a period of relative calm, Iran's nuclear dossier is facing important changes [which] will rapidly change the fate of many issues, and could end in very important results that are different from the past. Iran is about to move ahead one more step in its nuclear program... [which] will force the world to look at Iran in a completely different way and to treat it as it [i.e. Iran] wants...

    "The [U.N.] Security Council has asked Iran to suspend all activity connected to enrichment, but the Iranian engineers at the Natanz subterranean [nuclear facilities] are preparing the advanced steps for installing 3,000 centrifuges. [With thi s], regardless of the West's reaction to it, in another few months [Iran's nuclear program] will finally be crowned with success...

    "Iran will impose its aspiration to nuclearize on those Westerners [who want to keep nuclear programs for themselves alone]. In fact, if the Westerners think a little logically, and open their eyes, they will see that ultimately, they can do nothing, and that the nuclear Iran has already broken forth... Not a single Western commentator believes that a military attack can completely stop Iran's nuclear program... The only thing that would come after [such an attack] would be Tehran's continuation of its [nuclear] program, with greater impetus... The West has no choice [but] to think about life alongside a nuclear Iran..."(3)


    "A Nuclear Iran... Is a Fact... That Others Must Accept In Order to Safeguard Their Legitimate Interests"

    In a February 5, 2007 article, the weekly Sobh-e Sadeq, which is the mouthpiece of Iran' s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei circulated among the Revolutionary Guards, Revolutionary Guards Political Bureau director General Yadollah Javani spoke of Iran's continued nuclear progress: "...Despite the Americans' imagined success in sending [Iran's nuclear] dossier back to the Security Council and in passing Resolutions No. 1696 and 1737, the ineffectuality of the passage of this resolution becomes clearer by the day, in light of Iran's opposition and its continued nuclear activity... Thus, nuclear Iran, strong and influential among the countries of the region... is a fact and a living truth which others must accept in order to safeguard their legitimate interests."(4)


    Endnotes:

    (1)Aftab, Iran, February 20, 2007.
    (2)ISNA, Iran, February 20, 2007.
    (3)Kayhan (Iran), February 4, 2007.
    (4)Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), February 5, 2007.
    Last edited by Sean Osborne; February 23rd, 2007 at 11:52.

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    Ahmadinejad: Iran Won't Stop Nuclear Program
    Toronto Daily News ^ | 2-23-06

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday Iran won't change course and will continue pursuing its nuclear program.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday Iran won't bend under pressure and will continue pursuing its nuclear program.

    The U.N. Security Council had given Iran until February 21 to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can make fuel for power plants or material for warheads. Tehran ignored a U.N. deadline to stop uranium enrichment which is widely considered to be used to make nuclear bombs, U.N. watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency said. The report also said Tehran had also continued to build a heavy water reactor and related facilities.

    "If we show weakness in front of the enemy the expectations will increase but if we stand against them, because of this resistance, they will retreat," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in northern Iran, country's news agency reported, "The Iranian nation has resisted all bullies and corrupt powers and it will fully defend its all rights."

    (Excerpt) Read more at torontodailynews.com ...
    Libertatem Prius!


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