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Thread: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Bleeding edge info - just in.

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/WAT009399.htm



    US-contracted ship fires toward Iranian boat
    25 Apr 2008 14:54:15 GMT
    Source: Reuters



    WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) - A ship contracted by the U.S Military Sealift Command has fired at least one shot toward an Iranian boat, a U.S. defense official said on Friday.
    "It was an MSC vessel," the official said, confirming the ship fired on an Iranian boat.
    Other details were not immediately available. (Reporting by Kristin Roberts, Editing by Lori Santos)

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    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/int...37985000&ty=ti


    U.S.-contracted ship fires on Iranian boat
    April 25, 2008 - 3:34 PM

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A cargo ship contracted by the U.S. Military Sealift Command fired "a few bursts" of warning shots in the Gulf at small boats believed to be Iranian, U.S. defence officials said on Friday.

    "They were able to avoid a serious incident by following the procedures that we use," said Commander Lydia Robertson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.

    The Westward Venture, a cargo ship chartered by the U.S. Department of defence, was travelling north in international waters in the central Gulf at around 8 a.m. local time on Thursday when the incident took place, Robertson said.

    The ship was approached by two unidentified small boats and its crew issued "standard queries" to the vessels by radio but did not receive a response, she said. The ship then fired a flare, which also produced no response, she said.

    The boats continued to approach the cargo ship and its onboard security team fired "a few bursts" of machine gun and rifle warning shots, Robertson said.

    "The small boats left the area a short time later," Robertson by telephone.

    A U.S. defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the boats were believed to be Iranian.

    Shortly after the incident, the ship received a radio query from a ship identifying itself as an Iranian coast guard vessel, Robertson said.
    "It is not clear if this was one of the small boats or a separate boat," she said. She said the query from the vessel was conducted correctly.
    The United States said in January Iranian boats threatened its warships on January 6 along a vital route for crude oil shipments.

    (Reporting by Kristin Roberts and Andrew Gray, editing by Lori Santos)

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    Ahmadinejad: Israel to be 'swept away soon'
    The Earth Times ^ | 13 May 08 | DPA

    Tehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Israel would "be soon swept away" from the Palestinian Territories by the Palestinians. It is the second time within less than three years that the Iranian president predicted the eradication of the Jewish state.

    The first time was in 2005 when Ahmadinejad hoped that Israel would be eradicated from the Middle East map.

    "This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians," Ahmadinejad said in a press conference in Tehran.

    Referring to worldwide celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Israel's foundation, he said that "it would be futile to hold a birthday ceremony for something which is already dead."

    "As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist," Ahmadinejad added.

    The Iranian president said last week that the anniversary feasts could not save this "rotten and stinking corpse."

    Ahmadinejad caused international outrage in the past by hoping for the eradication of Israel, the relocation of the Jewish state to Europe or Alaska and questioning the historic dimensions of the Holocaust.
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    News > News Special Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    News Special


    Posted on Tue, May. 13, 2008 12:26 PM

    Iran report pushes oil to new record, gas jumps above $3.73 By JOHN WILEN

    AP Business Writer


    Summer travel: What are your plans in this droopy economy?


    Oil prices shot to a new record near $127 a barrel Tuesday on concerns that Iran may consider cutting crude oil production. Gas prices, meanwhile, rose to a new record over $3.73 a gallon Tuesday, and their advance shows little sign of slowing with Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer driving season, just 10 days away.
    Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose as high as a record $126.98 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Tuesday before retreating to trade up $1.33 at $125.56.
    Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill., said traders were reacting to news reports that Iran's government is considering cutting crude oil production. James Cordier, president of Tampa, Fla., trading firms Liberty Trading Group and OptionSellers.com, said the news quickly made its way around trading floors.
    In later news reports, Iranian officials denied that production cuts were imminent, but said a reduction has been discussed. Cordier doubts Iran will actually cut oil production. The nation's economy is in bad shape, Cordier said: "They need all the petrodollars they can get."
    At the pump, meanwhile, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas rose 1.4 cents overnight to a record $3.732, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Prices have now risen to the level at which the Energy Department forecasts they'll peak in June, on a monthly average basis; that means prices may still go higher, but their average will peak at around $3.73.
    Many analysts have predicted prices will surge much higher, and may breach the psychologically important $4 level on a national basis within the next couple of months. Prices are already that high in many parts of the country.
    Some analysts are beginning to question whether gas prices will follow their typical pattern of peaking around Memorial Day, then declining through the summer.
    "Retail prices aren't going to decline as long as any part of the energy complex is heading higher," Ritterbusch said.
    Retail diesel prices rose 2.9 cents Tuesday to a national average of $4.39 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. The high price of diesel has helped drive up costs for goods and services throughout the economy.
    In sending crude prices higher Tuesday, investors shrugged off the dollar, which strengthened against the euro Tuesday. A stronger dollar often prompts selling by investors who had bought commodities such as oil as a hedge against inflation. Also, a stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for investors overseas.
    Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency, an adviser to mostly western, industrialized nations, said high prices are cutting demand for oil and petroleum products in the U.S. and Europe. The IEA cut its global oil demand growth forecast for this year to 1.2 percent from 1.5 percent. In the U.S., the IEA said demand for oil may contract by as much as 2.1 percent this year, while demand for gasoline will drop by about 1 percent.
    Energy investors are also concerned about China, which recently reported a drop in crude imports. Analysts were uncertain whether Monday's 7.9-magnitude earthquake in central China would have a significant impact on demand. The quake killed about 10,000 people and knocked power plants and other factories off-line. Strong demand from China and other fast-growing economies has underpinned oil's rise in recent years.
    In other Nymex trading Tuesday, June gasoline futures rose 3.18 cents to $3.196 a gallon, and June heating oil futures rose 11.17 cents to $3.6615 a gallon. Analysts said heating oil futures were being boosted by reports that supplies of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, fell last month in Europe.
    June natural gas futures rose 19.6 cents to $11.497 per 1,000 cubic feet.
    In London, June Brent crude futures rose 89 to $123.80 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
    Associated Press Writer George Jahn in Vienna, Austria, and AP Business Writer Thomas Hogue in Bangkok, Thailand, contributed to this report.
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    Photo 1 of 2

    The International Atomic Energy Agency HQ in Vienna where the organisation expressed concern over Iran's nuclear plans












    2008 Google - Map data 2008 NAVTEQ - Terms of Use





    US, allies say UN report bolsters fears Iran wants nuclear bomb

    18 minutes ago
    WASHINGTON (AFP) The United States said Tuesday that Iran's refusal to respond to queries from the UN atomic watchdog is "very troubling," warning its behavior bolstered suspicions it aimed to build a nuclear bomb.


    The US government, which has spearheaded toughening rounds of sanctions against Tehran, added it was studying what "diplomatic next step" to take after Monday's report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


    France and Germany -- which along with Britain, Russia and China are locked in carrot-and-stick negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program -- voiced immediate concerns about the report.


    The IAEA on Monday expressed "serious concern" that Iran is still hiding information about alleged studies into making nuclear warheads and defying UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment.


    The alleged studies comprise a uranium conversion project, high explosives testing and designs for a missile re-entry vehicle, and suggest there may have been a possible military angle to past nuclear work.


    The report "refers to the fact that the Iranians are willfully -- trying to willfully withhold information about their activities related to potential weaponization," McCormack told reporters in Washington.


    "There are a number of different questions out there about the military's involvement in this nuclear program, about Iran's efforts to fabricate hemispheres of uranium," he said.


    "And I'm not sure other than for a weapon why you would do that," McCormack added.


    Washington has in the past pointed to IAEA inquiries into Iran's possession of blueprints for making the uranium metal hemispheres that are the core of bombs as signs of military intentions.


    McCormack called the new report "very troubling" and "disturbing,"
    adding: "And we'll see what diplomatic next step will flow from this."


    The State Department spokesman said the report will have no impact on a so-called "refreshed" package of incentives for Iran to halt its uranium enrichment and reprocessing work.


    "The package is set," McCormack said.


    European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he hopes to travel to Iran soon to present the package from the six negotiating powers after meeting Tehran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki over the weekend.


    The permanent Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany have re-worked an offer of political and trade incentives originally made in 2006.
    Solana has been struggling to establish high-level talks aimed at getting Iran to accept the package but Tehran refuses to suspend enrichment as a precondition for negotiating.


    Iran insists it has the right to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel to help meet its electricity needs and has so far defied three sets of Security Council resolutions which demand it halt the process.


    At highly refined levels, such work can also make the fissile core of an atomic bomb but Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and has vehemently denied that it is seeking to make weapons with it.


    In Paris, French foreign ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani said the details mentioned in the report "could be the sign of a possible military dimension of the Iranian nuclear program."


    In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the report "leaves open a number of questions that we will have to examine very quickly."
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    Israel attack on Iran 'unavoidable'-Olmert deputy

    JERUSALEM, June 6 (Reuters) - An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks "unavoidable" given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential, one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's deputies said on Friday.

    "If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective," Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

    "Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable," said the former army chief who has also been defence minister.

    It was the most explicit threat yet against Iran from a member of Olmert's government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should U.N. Security Council sanctions be deemed a dead end.

    Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, has defied Western pressure to abandon its uranium enrichment projects. The leadership in Tehran has also threatened to retaliate against Israel -- believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal -- and U.S. targets in the Gulf for any attack on Iranian turf.

    Mofaz also said in the interview that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, "would disappear before Israel does."

    Mofaz's remarks came as he and several other senior members of Olmert's Kadima Party prepare for a possible run for top office should a corruption scandal force the Israeli prime minister to step down.

    Iranian-born Mofaz has been a main party rival of the Israeli prime minister, particularly following the 2006 elections when Olmert was forced to hand the defence portfolio to Labour, his main coalition partner, at Mofaz's expense.

    Mofaz, who is also designated as a deputy prime minister, has remained privy to Israel's defence planning. He is a member of Olmert's security cabinet and leads regular strategic coordination talks with the U.S. State Department.

    Israel sent warplanes to destroy Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981.

    A similar Israeli sortie over Syria last September razed what the U.S. administration said was a nascent nuclear reactor built with North Korean help. Syria denied having any such facility.

    Independent analysts have questioned, however, whether Israel's armed forces can take on Iran alone, as its nuclear sites are numerous, distant and well-fortified. (Editing by Ori Lewis and Charles Dick)
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L06251958.htm
    Brian Baldwin

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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    This is a slightly older video, but first time I have seen it.

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    Shaul Mofaz also stressed such an operation could only be conducted with US support.
    If it happens it will be before President Bush leaves office and probably before the November elections. Israel knows there won't be much if any support if the Democraps win.

    Jag

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    That missile in the video is a bit slow and I believe our ships would easily shoot it out of the air. Just my opinion though.
    Brian Baldwin

    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil.... For I am the meanest S.O.B. in the valley.


    "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in... And how many want out." - Tony Blair on America



    It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

    It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

    It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

    It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

    -Father Denis O'Brien of the United States Marine Corp.


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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    I believe that is a Chinese Silkworm/Russian Styx missile.



    It is fairly old tech and I agree, I don't think our guys would have any problem shooting them down.

    What we need to watch out for are the C-801/802 missiles.

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    Yep. those are bad boys.
    Brian Baldwin

    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil.... For I am the meanest S.O.B. in the valley.


    "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in... And how many want out." - Tony Blair on America



    It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

    It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

    It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

    It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

    -Father Denis O'Brien of the United States Marine Corp.


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    http://www.reuters.com/article/newsO...02116020080610

    Iran warns of "painful" response if Israel attacks

    Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:24am EDT

    By Fredrik Dahl

    TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's defense minister was quoted on Tuesday as warning Israel of a "very painful" response if it launched a military strike over the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program.

    On Friday, Israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told an Israeli newspaper an attack on Iran looked "unavoidable" given the apparent failure of United Nations sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential.

    "Our armed forces are at the height of their readiness and if anyone should want to undertake such a foolish job the response would be very painful," the state Iran daily quoted Iranian Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying.

    Some Israeli political commentators have accused Mofaz, whose comments helped drive up oil prices to a record $139 a barrel on Friday, of making them to advance his personal political ambitions.

    In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday to refrain from discussing sensitive matters publicly, officials said.

    Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has described Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its existence. Olmert last week said it must be stopped by "all possible means."

    Iran does not recognize Israel and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is regularly predicting its demise.

    The United States, which is leading efforts to isolate Tehran over nuclear work the West fears is aimed at making bombs, says it wants a diplomatic solution to the row but has not ruled out military action if that were to fail.

    Israel bombed an Iraqi reactor in 1981 and an Israeli air raid on Syria last September razed what the United States said was a nascent nuclear reactor built with North Korean help. Syria denied having any such facility.

    But many analysts say Iran's nuclear sites are too numerous, distant and fortified for Israel to take on alone.

    "Israel cannot do it on its own," London-based defense analyst Andrew Brookes told Reuters. "It is beyond the capability of the Israeli air force to do it because of the distance involved and the dispersed nature of all the sites."

    "The only way it can be done is with the full assistance of the United States," said Brookes of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank.

    Iran, which says its nuclear work is solely for generating electricity, has threatened to retaliate if it is attacked.

    Its Shahab-3 missile, with a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), is capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf, Iranian officials say.

    Jag

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    Report: Ahmadinejad Tells Japan to 'Prepare for a World Without the U.S.'
    Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Japan's prime minister Thursday that the world will soon not include the United States, Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

    "The U.S. domination is on the fall. Iran and Japan as two civilized and influential nations should get ready for a world minus the U.S.," Ahmadinejad told Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on the sidelines of the U.N. food summit in Rome on Tuesday, IRNA reported.

    The hard-line leader called for Japan's cooperation in finding their historical and true status, IRNA reported.

    "No body or power can wipe Iran off the world scene and Iranian nation of course can well manage its affairs under such an atmosphere," he said.

    Also on Thursday, Iran accused the U.S. of pressuring the U.N.'s nuclear agency to base its latest investigation of Tehran's nuclear activities on fake evidence suggesting that Iran had a secret weapons program.

    Ahmadinejad is currently at odds with Iran's new reformist parliament due to growing social and economic unrest.

    In addition, the Iranian president is under fire worldwide for his comments on the destruction of Israel, his "suspicions" of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and his belief that homosexuals deserve to be executed, tortured or both.

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    Israel Exercise Seen as Preparation for Possible Iran Strike
    By Tony Capaccio and Ken Fireman


    (Bloomberg.com)



    June 20 (Bloomberg) -- A wide-ranging Israeli military exercise in the eastern Mediterranean was likely aimed at warning both Iran and the U.S. about the possibility of a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, a U.S. analyst said.


    ``It's very hard to think of any other enemies Israel has that would require such a massive use of forces or an attack waged at such a distance,'' said Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign- policy analyst at Washington's Brookings Institution.


    The June 2 exercise involved about 100 aircraft and included mid-air refueling missions, according to two U.S. defense officials who are familiar with the broad outlines of the Israeli operation. They spoke on condition of anonymity.


    O'Hanlon said the exercise may have been designed to send two simultaneous messages: one to the Iranians that a strike could be made unless they rein in their nuclear activities, and another to the U.S. about the possibility of an attack.


    ``They want to get us used to it, or at least not be totally surprised by it,'' O'Hanlon said. ``They want to be able to say they gave us warning. And they want to dissuade Iran as well. It's also battlefield training. It's all these things simultaneously.''


    The New York Times, which first reported on the exercise, said it had a range of 900-miles (1,450-kilometers). The Times quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying the exercise could be a rehearsal for an attack against the Iranian nuclear plant in Natanz as well as Iran's long-range conventional missiles.


    UN Sanctions


    The United Nations Security Council has approved three rounds of sanctions against Iran for its failure to halt uranium enrichment, a process used for making fuel for civilian energy or a bomb. The U.S. and European allies accuse Iran of trying to develop a bomb; Iran insists its activities are peaceful and legal under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said yesterday that officials in Tehran are studying an incentives package to stop enrichment. Still, Iran's ambassador to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said the previous day that Iran wouldn't be pushed into suspending enrichment.


    Crude oil rose today following the Times report that Israel held a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iranian nuclear targets, and as the weaker dollar enhanced the appeal of commodities as a currency hedge. Oil traded in New York at $135.39 a barrel at 11:52 a.m. in New York, up $3.46 for the day.


    A senior Iranian cleric reacted to reports of the Israeli exercise by saying his country would respond to an Israeli attack on nuclear facilities with a ``heavy blow.''
    `A Heavy Blow'
    Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, leading Friday prayers in Tehran, said today that Iran favored dialogue and would resist ``mischievous acts,'' the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said. Such an attack would prompt an ``uproar on the part of our nation,'' Khatami said.
    ``If enemies, especially Israelis and their U.S. supporters, wish to speak in the language of force, they should rest assured they will be dealt a heavy blow on the face by the Iranian nation,'' the ayatollah said, according to IRNA.


    Iran doesn't recognize Israel, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly predicted the end of the Jewish state.


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the international community not to take further measures against Iran without evidence that it's really trying to make a nuclear bomb, Interfax reported.
    Israeli Statement
    The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that the ``Israeli Air Force regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.'' David Segal, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, declined to comment further.


    ``We are not commenting on this one,'' U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Kate Starr said. White House spokesman Tony Fratto also declined to comment.


    A task force on Iran policy and U.S.-Israel relations organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said June 16 that Israel may be more inclined to attack Iran because a U.S. intelligence assessment last year eroded support for preventing Iran's government from acquiring a nuclear weapon.


    The report, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released in December, said Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
    Reactions to the NIE ``may have heightened the inclination of some Israeli strategists to give further consideration to unilateral military action to forestall Iran's development of a nuclear capability,'' the task force said.


    To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net; Ken Fireman in Washington at kfireman1@bloomberg.net

    Last Updated: June 20, 2008 12:01 EDT
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    Israeli air exercise probably message to Iran, U.S. official says


    • Story Highlights
    • U.S. official: Israel did major aerial military exercise over Mediterranean Sea
    • U.S. believes Israel was signaling it can attack Iran's nuclear program, official says
    • Official: Size of exercise ensured U.S., nations in region noticed it
    • Next Article in World





    From Barbara Starr
    CNN Pentagon Correspondent






    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Israel conducted a major aerial military exercise over the eastern Mediterranean Sea earlier this month, a U.S. military official confirmed to CNN.


    Israel reportedly may have wanted to show it can attack Iran's nuclear program, which includes the Natanz plant.







    The June 2 exercise was first reported in The New York Times on Friday.
    The United States believes the maneuvers were in part an Israeli effort to send a public message that it has the capability to attack Iran's nuclear program, the official said.


    The exercise involved dozens of Israeli warplanes, including F-15s, F-16s and aerial refueling tanker aircraft, the official said. The size and scope of the exercise ensured that the United States and other nations in the region saw it, the official said.


    The planes flew several hundred miles into the eastern Mediterranean.
    The U.S. military calculates the distance was roughly the same Israel would have to fly into Iranian airspace if it were attacking Iran's Natanz enrichment plant, the official said.


    The Israeli military said its air force regularly trains for various missions to confront and meet challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.
    Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. But it has refused to meet U.N. Security Council demands to halt its nuclear fuel program, and the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Tehran had not provided critical information that would support its position.
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    Crude Oil Rises as U.S. Dollar Weakens, Israel Conducts Drill
    By Mark Shenk
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...jms&refer=home





    June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose as the weaker dollar enhanced the appeal of commodities as a currency hedge and the New York Times reported that Israel held a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on nuclear targets in Iran.
    Oil prices have nearly doubled in the past year as investors sought refuge from a declining dollar, which fell again today after traders pared bets the Federal Reserve will raise rates on June 25. Iran, OPEC's second-biggest oil producer, would respond to an Israeli attack with a ``heavy blow,'' a senior cleric said.


    ``The only way to increase the value of the dollar is by increasing interest rates, which doesn't look likely at the meeting on the 25th,'' said Nauman Barakat, senior vice president of global energy futures at Macquarie Futures USA Inc. in New York. ``The simulated attack of Iran by Israeli warplanes is certainly not going to reduce geopolitical tensions.''


    Crude oil for July delivery rose $3.01, or 2.3 percent, to $134.94 a barrel at 12:29 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures climbed to a record $139.89 on June 16.


    The July contract expires today. The more-active August contract increased $2.98, or 2.3 percent, to $135.58 a barrel.


    Oil extended gains after Royal Dutch Shell Plc suspended export obligations for its Bonga crude oil after a militant attack halted production at the offshore field yesterday. Shell shut Bonga after the attack on a production vessel at the field, 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the coast of Nigeria.


    Force Majeure


    Shell, Europe's biggest oil company, declared force majeure on exports of Bonga crude for the remainder of June and July, company spokesman Rainer Winzenried said today in a phone interview from The Hague. Force majeure is a legal clause which allows producers to miss contracted deliveries because of circumstances beyond their control.


    ``The attack at Bonga was a big surprise because we thought the new deepwater fields wouldn't be vulnerable to attack,'' said Rick Mueller, director of oil practice at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. ``Now we have to worry that the rebels can take speedboats and attack these fields far offshore and not just facilities in the Niger delta.''


    Attacks previously focused on onshore and shallow fields in the creeks of the Niger Delta.


    Workers at Chevron Corp.'s Nigerian unit plan to strike on June 23 after talks with management failed to resolve a labor dispute, a union official said. Chevron produced about 350,000 barrels of oil a day in Nigeria in 2007, according to a statement on the company's Web site.


    Skeleton Staff


    Production is unlikely to be affected on the first day as a skeleton staff remains in place, Jonathan Omare, secretary of the local Chevron unit of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, said. Output may be affected on the second and third day of the strike should the union decide to escalate action, he said.
    Brent crude oil for August settlement rose $3.09, or 2.3 percent, to $135.09 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices climbed to a record $139.32 on June 16.


    The dollar is heading for its biggest weekly drop against the euro in more than two months. The dollar fell 0.8 percent to $1.5627 per euro at 12:31 p.m. in New York, from $1.5504 yesterday.


    An Israeli military exercise involving more than 100 F-16 and F-15 fighters seems to have been a rehearsal for a bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and long-range conventional missiles, the New York Times reported, citing several unidentified U.S. officials.


    `Heavy Blow'


    ``If enemies, especially Israelis and their U.S. supporters, wish to speak in the language of force, they should rest assured they will be dealt a heavy blow on the face by the Iranian nation,'' said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, leading Friday prayers in Tehran, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency
    Prices fell the most since March 31 yesterday after China unexpectedly raised fuel prices by at least 17 percent. The move will reduce the country's demand growth by 1.5 percent, according to Merrill Lynch & Co.


    The decision may actually bolster demand for crude oil as refiners ramp up output to take advantage of higher processing profits, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in reports.


    ``The Chinese reduction in subsidies was definitely a surprise, so the reaction made sense,'' Barakat said. ``This doesn't necessarily mean that Chinese demand will suffer. Refiners have not been willing to run at capacity because they are losing money, which might change.''


    Jeddah Meeting


    Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter, is gathering producers, oil companies and consuming governments in Jeddah this weekend to discuss surging prices. The kingdom may announce output increases of between 200,000 and 500,000 barrels a day, according to OPEC and media reports.


    ``There are two bearish factors, weak physical demand and the Saudis are going to add supply,'' Mueller said. ``On the other hand there is the financial flow into the market.'' When the financial community ``saw prices fall below $132 it was a great opportunity to buy.''


    To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net.
    Last Updated: June 20, 2008 12:40 EDT
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Hmmmmmm

    Dollar falls.
    Oil increases.
    The US warns about Iran again.
    The Israelis practice...
    China rattles it's sabers....
    Russia is still run by Communists......

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmm
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Iran strike in the air as US and Israeli military chiefs meet

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...1-2703,00.html

    Martin Chulov, Middle East correspondent | June 25, 2008


    THE US military chief is to meet his Israeli counterpart in Tel Aviv this week in a move that gives new impetus to speculation about a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear capabilities.

    Tensions were further heightened by a suggestion from former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton that the US and Israel could attack Iraq's fledgling program between the time a new president was nominated in November and the date the incumbent, George W. Bush, left office in January.


    Mr Bolton's remarks signal the first time a regime figure from either country has been prepared to put a time frame on a mooted strike. They also mark a sharp escalation in Israeli-US rhetoric against the Islamic republic, which is refusing to bow to international demands that it stop its nuclear program, and its efforts to enrich uranium.


    As the European Union moved Monday to suspend the operations of Iran's largest bank in Europe, Israeli policy-makers were putting in place a clear shift in their stance towards Iran. Officials had been wary of being perceived as trigger-happy, with the spectre of the Iraq war still shadowing the region.


    However, a raft of politicians and defence officials are now openly bullish about the chance of a strike against Iran. Pentagon officials earlier this week provided apparently White House-sanctioned details about a large Israeli military operation in the eastern Mediterranean in June, in which more than 100 jets trained for long-range missions.


    Israeli intelligence chiefs believe the three years from early 2009 are crucial to the Iranian program.





    "Nobody can explain why Iran is enriching uranium," said a senior Israeli official. "The second thing is they are developing a delivery system and nobody can deny that.


    "Israel can't take the risk that Iran will be nuclear."


    US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Michael Mullen will meet Israeli Defence chief Gabi Ashkenazi on Friday.


    He last visited Israel in December during earlier talks about Iran and an Israeli operation that bombed an alleged Syrian rector under construction near the Iraqi border.


    Mr Bolton, who maintained a hawkish stance on Iran throughout his tenure as ambassador to the UN, said he thought Israel would act unilaterally in any military strike because the US had lost enthusiasm during the last months of the Bush regime.


    "It is clear that the administration has given up that possibility," he told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.


    "I don't think it's serious any more. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have thought it was a real possibility. I just don't think it's in the cards.


    "The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding. They are obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgment is that they would not want to go for anything before our election because there's no telling what impact it would have."


    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed there will be "devastating consequences" if Israel attacked his country.


    French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on a three-day visit to Israel and the territories, told the Israeli Knesset on Monday that "a nuclear Iran was unacceptable".


    Mr Sarkozy was due last night to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008...ans.middleeast

    Excerpt below. Full story at link.

    What is clear is that the push inside the Israeli establishment for a strike is not being driven by the timetable of Iran's mastery of the technical aspects alone, but by geopolitical considerations. That point was reinforced by Bar last week when he identified a window of opportunity for a strike on Iran - ahead of the November presidential election in the United States which could see Barack Obama take power, and possibly engage with Syria and Iran. An Obama presidency would close that window for Israel, says Bar.
    I've often suggested that they need to strike before the elections on various forums. I'm not so sure Obama will lose in November.
    Brian Baldwin

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    Iran warns about attack amid mixed signals on nuclear crisis

    5 hours ago

    MADRID (AFP) Iran warned Wednesday of a fierce response and radically higher oil prices if the country was attacked, but also signalled possible progress in its five-year nuclear standoff with the West.

    "Iran, if there were any kind of activity of any sort, is not going to be quiet and would react fiercely," Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said here when asked what Tehran would do in the event of an attack.

    He added that oil prices, which have been driven to record levels partly because of fear about the loss of Iran's 4.0-million-barrel-a-day output, would rise radically if Israel or the US launched a military strike.

    His comments on the sidelines of an oil conference here came as Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaking to US media, said that a "new process" was underway in the dispute about the country's nuclear programme.

    The news was greeted with scepticism by Washington but more positively in Brussels where EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana described it as "interesting."

    Six world powers last month came up with a solution for ending the crisis, offering technological incentives in exchange for Tehran suspending uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make an atomic bomb.

    Iran has unveiled its own package, which is a more all-embracing effort to solve global problems and notably suggests the setting up of a consortium in Iran for enriching uranium.

    "A process is underway and it started with the package delivered by Iran," Mottaki said in an interview with US media in New York, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

    "This package tackled important questions and then on the other side the world powers offered their own package," he said.

    There has been a surge in speculation recently that Israel might be planning a military strike against Iran's nuclear sites after it emerged that Israel fighter planes had carried out practice runs.

    But recent reports in Western media have also suggested that Tehran is ready to adopt a softer line in the standoff and may be prepared to offer concessions to break the deadlock.

    The foreign policy advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday it would be in Iran's interest to accept the package and warned against provocative remarks that could destabilise the situation.

    The White House said Wednesday that it was sceptical about Mottaki's comments and President George W. Bush again stressed that military action was possible despite his preference for diplomacy.

    "I have always said that all options are on the table but the first option for the United States is to solve this problem diplomatically," Bush told reporters in the White House Rose Garden.

    Top US military chiefs said Wednesday that opening up a third front against Iran in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan would be "extremely stressful."

    No Iranian official has suggested in the past months that Tehran is ready to give any ground on the key question of enrichment, which Iran must suspend in order to enter the talks offered by the world powers.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had repeatedly vowed that Iran will never halt enrichment operations and Khamenei himself has said many times over the past years that Tehran will not back down.

    Iran insists its atomic drive is entirely peaceful and it needs nuclear energy for a growing population whose fossil fuels will eventually run out.

    The United States and its regional ally Israel have never ruled out military strikes to end what they see as Tehran's defiance,

    After warning of Iran's response to any aggression, Oil Minister Nozari stressed that the country, the fourth-biggest oil producer in the world, was a "reliable source of supply to the market and Iran remains a supplier forever."

    Analysts fear that Iran would cease crude exports and could block key Gulf oil shipping routes if attacked.

    "When just a statement (about a possible attack) makes this much volatility in the market, can you imagine that if any action happens ... what would be the result in the oil market?" he said through a translator at an industry event here.

    Benchmark oil prices traded at about 141 dollars per barrel in London and New York on Wednesday after striking a record above 143 dollars last week

    The comments, made at the World Petroleum Congress industry event, followed signs of growing tension between crude producing and consuming countries over who is to blame for record crude prices.
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