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Thread: War with Iran about to start?

  1. #41
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Dagan Retracts Quote that Attacking Iran is 'Stupid'


    Friday, 6 July 2012

    Former Mossad head steps away from quote, but does not move away from the substance of his opposition to military action.

    Bombing Iran is not the stupidest idea Meir Dagan has heard after all, the former Mossad head made clear in an interview in the recent issue of Lochem magazine, distancing himself from his statement earlier this year – which was widely circulated to discredit a possible Israeli military action against Tehran.

    “This was a miserable quote that was said absentmindedly, not in public, and which someone quotes all the time,” Dagan said in the magazine for disabled IDF veterans. “Let’s set the record straight. I think the Iranian nuclear capacity is a threat with strategic implications for Israel.

    I know the air force well enough to know that it will perform successfully any task entrusted to it.”

    While stepping away from that particular quote, Dagan did not however move away from the substance of his opposition to military action.

    “I do see a nuclear Iran as a problem,” he said. “If I believed that a military attack would solve the problem, believe me, I would be in favor.

    If I thought that an attack would stop the nuclear program, I would be in favor. But what can you do, an attack cannot stop the nuclear program – it can only delay it for a period of time.”

    Dagan, repeating what he has been saying for months about the military option, said it was necessary for Israel to always consider what would happen the day after an attack, and that this was a discussion that should take place before – not after – military action. He added that he thought the cost of such an assault would be greater than the benefit.

    He dismissed, however, the notion that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was using the Iranian threat to divert the public’s attention from issues such as the social protests and the African migrants. “I do not agree with the defense minister and prime minister [on Iran], but I do not think they are that cynical,” Dagan said. “I believe that when the prime minister raises the Iranian issue he is substantively very concerned about Israel’s security, and I do not link that with any other event.”


    Friday, 6 July 2012
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Iran guilty of illegal weapons shipment to Syria, Afghanistan

    New York City : NY : USA | Jul 05, 2012 at 3:01 PM PDT
    By StephenManual







    Iran has been offered a deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel








    Iran has been found guilty of transporting weapons to Syria and Afghanistan, according to a report published by a United Nations Security Council committee on Thursday. The report claims that Iran is under legal obligation not to transport weapons to other countries, but the country has made three shipments to Syria and Afghanistan – two to Syria and one to Afghanistan. Iran is considered one of the few allies of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, where pro-democracy people have been struggling against the regime for the last 16 months.


    It may be pertinent to mention here that the three illegal shipments were made last year.


    Iran was prohibited from exporting weapons by the United Nations. The ban was enforced on Iran to compel it to suspend nuclear enrichment. Iran has long been defying sanctions imposed by the United Nations, United States and European countries. Iranian leadership believes that the country can do away with any crime as it is supported by veto-wielding Russia and China.


    How true is it that Iran is being abetted by Russia and China? Russia has blocked a number of resolutions against Iran and supported the country in bad times. Last year, Russia blocked a report on Iran that was all set to expose the real face of the country. Russia and China have always talked of a peaceful solution of the controversial nuclear program of Iran, but have never put pressure on the country to suspend nuclear enrichment.


    Iran has also been accused of transporting rockets to Afghanistan. Those rockets would ultimately be used against NATO forces based in the volatile country. One of the shipments that included assault rifles, machineguns, hand grenades, explosives, detonators and mortar shells was also seized by Turkish authorities. It is believed that Iran has been abetting insurgency in Afghanistan through funding and arming militants linked to different outfits.


    The United States and Israel suspect that Iran has been trying to covertly develop nuclear weapons by using enriched uranium. However, Iran denies the charges and says that the country’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Top leadership of the country claims that nuclear program of the country is for electricity generation and research purposes.


    Iran has also been selling oil despite the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union.
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  3. #43
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Iran announces nuclear-powered submarine plan



    • Monday, 9 July 2012 9:25 AM



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    SUBMARINE SCAM: Former head of Dubai World's submarine unit embezzled AED14m from the company. (Getty Images, for illustrative purposes only)


    Iran's announcement that it plans to build its first nuclear-powered submarine is stoking speculation it could serve as a pretext for the Islamic state to produce highly enriched uranium and move closer to potential atom bomb material.
    Western experts doubt that Iran - which is under a U.N. arms embargo - has the capability any time soon to make the kind of sophisticated underwater vessel that only the world's most powerful states currently have.
    But they say Iran could use the plan to justify more sensitive atomic activity, because nuclear submarines can be fuelled by uranium refined to a level that would also be suitable for the explosive core of a nuclear warhead.
    "Such submarines often use HEU (highly enriched uranium)," former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Olli Heinonen said, adding Iran was unlikely to be able source the fuel abroad because of the international dispute over its nuclear programme.

    It could then "cite the lack of foreign fuel suppliers as further justification for continuing on its uranium enrichment path", Heinonen, now at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said.
    Any move by Iran to enrich to a higher purity would alarm the United States and its allies, which suspect it is seeking to develop the capability to make nuclear bombs and want it to curb its nuclear programme. Tehran denies any atomic arms ambitions.
    It would also likely further complicate diplomatic efforts to resolve the decade-old row over Tehran's nuclear programme and may add to fears of a military confrontation.
    Several rounds of talks between Iran and six world powers this year have so far failed to make significant progress, especially over their demand that the Islamic Republic scale back its controversial enrichment work.
    "Iran is using this submarine announcement to create bargaining leverage," Shashank Joshi, a senior fellow and Middle East specialist at the Royal United Services Institute, said.
    "It can negotiate away these 'plans' for concessions, or use the plans as a useful pretext for its enrichment activity."
    Iranian deputy navy commander Abbas Zamini was last month quoted as saying that "preliminary steps in making an atomic submarine have started".
    He did not say how such a vessel would be fuelled, but experts said it may require high-grade uranium.
    Iran now refines uranium to reach a 3.5 per cent concentration of the fissile isotope U-235 - suitable for nuclear power plants - as well as 20 per cent, which it says is for a medical research reactor in Tehran.
    Nuclear weapons need a fissile purity of 90 per cent, about the same level as is used to fuel U.S. nuclear submarines.
    "This is a bald excuse to enrich uranium above 20 percent," Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London, said.
    A Western diplomat agreed that it could provide another possible justification for making highly enriched uranium, adding Iran could also use medical isotope production as an excuse.
    "What it all means to me is that they could enrich above 20 percent, or even just say they intend to, and then point to some or all of these 'justifications'," the envoy said.
    Iran says its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful energy and medical purposes and that it is its right to process uranium for reactor fuel under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global pact to prevent the spread of atomic arms.
    An Iranian lawmaker this week said parliament planned to ask the government to equip Iran's naval and research fleet with "non-fossil" engines, Press TV state television reported in an apparent reference to nuclear fuel.
    While nuclear submarines generally run on highly refined uranium, merchant vessels can also operate on low-enriched fuel, Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said.
    The six powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - want Iran to halt 20 percent enrichment. If Iran not only rejected this demand but also started enriching to even higher levels, it would risk dramatically raising the stakes in the dispute.
    The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, sparking fears of a possible escalation into a new Middle East war.
    The submarine statement and this week's missile tests by the Islamic Republic signalled Iranian defiance at a time when the West is stepping up the sanctions pressure on the major crude producer with a European Union oil embargo.
    "I see this as an effort to demonstrate Iranian resolve at a time when sanctions are getting unprecedentedly tight," Joshi, of the Royal United Services Institute, said.
    It is difficult and very expensive to make atomic submarines. "There is no way that Iran could build a nuclear-powered submarine," Fitzpatrick said.
    Such submarines - which the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain have - can be at sea without refuelling and stay under water for much longer periods than those using diesel, experts said.
    Naval reactors deliver a lot of power from a small volume and therefore run on highly enriched uranium but the level varies from 20 percent or less to as much as 93 percent in the latest U.S. submarines, the World Nuclear Association, a London-based industry body, said on its website.
    Iran's announcement is another statement "that they are capable of producing the most-advanced and prestigious military technology and, as usual, there is little truth in what is being claimed", military expert Pieter Wezeman, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think tank, said.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Iran warns against 'catastrophic' attack on Syria

    Monday, 09 July 2012


    AMMAN (AFP) — Iran's deputy foreign minister said on Sunday that forcing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and go into exile would be a "joke," warning an attack on his country would be "stupid" and "catastrophic."

    "Iran supports Assad's reform plans and the talk about forcing him to go into exile is a joke," Hossein Amir Abdollahian told reporters in Amman, where he invited King Abdullah II to attend an August summit of Non-Aligned Movement.

    "Military action Syria is unlikely and if this happens it would be stupid. Syria can defend itself without Iran's help. Any non-political solution would bring catastrophe to the entire region," he said.

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday his country, Russia and the United States are not ready to host Assad in exile, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday warned time was running out to save Syria from a "catastrophic assault."

    "Iran could be part of a solution to the Syrian issue. It has provided suggestions to Kofi Annan," said Abdollahian of the UN and Arab League envoy.

    Annan arrived in Damascus on Sunday after admitting that his peace plan has so far failed to end nearly 16 months of carnage.

    "I think that meetings on Syria that are held in some countries seek to make sure the crisis in Syria continues. The Syrians must determine their own fate," Abdollahian added.

    "Iran backs all efforts to address the crisis and help Assad's reform plans, but unfortunately we sense bad intention."

    Iran is Assad's chief regional ally, supplying him with humanitarian and financial aid.

    Some Iranian and US reports have said Iranian military personnel were in Syria and helping in the crackdown against opposition groups, although Tehran officially denies that.

    More than 17,000 people, including 11,815 civilians, have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of the revolt in March 2011, according to monitors.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    How to make Iran blink

    By Michael Rubin

    Published July 09, 2012

    FoxNews.com

    On July 1, following the lead set days earlier by the United States, the European Union slapped sanctions on purchasers of Iranian oil. While Iranís leaders acknowledged the new sanctions have bite, they scoff at the idea they will be effective. ďThe enemy assumption that they can weaken Iran is, of course, wrong and a result of their merely materialistic calculations,Ē Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on July 3.

    The Obama administration, however, argues that their strategy of gradually increasing sanctions is working. ďWe believe that the economic sanctions are bringing Iran to the table,Ē Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared, the day after the United States tightened its unilateral sanctions.

    Both are wrong.

    Despite Ahmadinejadís bluster, sanctions can work against Iran. Nevertheless, Obamaís team has yet to contemplate the level of sanctions necessary to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

    Twice since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, revolutionary authorities have staked out extreme positions only to reverse course.

    On November 4, 1979, Iranian students believing that a November 1 handshake between their prime minister and President Carterís national security advisor presaged a betrayal of their revolution, stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Their initial aim was to hold the embassy staff for just 48 hours. However, after Gary Sick, a Carter national security aide, leaked that Carter had taken military action off-the-table in favor of a diplomatic resolution, the students augmented their demands and transformed a fleeting protest into a prolonged crisis which would last 444 days.

    Iranian authorities released the hostages on the first day of Ronald Reaganís presidency. In the weeks and months that followed, Carter administration officials gave interviews and penned articles and books claiming that the key to the hostagesí release was the persistence of diplomacy. Carterís team never gave up: They tried everyone from radical former Attorney-General Ramsey Clark and Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists to German bankers and UN diplomats as mediators. In the end, it was the Algerian government whose mediation succeeded.

    The late Peter Rodman, a former Henry Kissinger aide, saw things differently. In an important 1981 article, he argued that the persistence of diplomacy had little to do with the hostagesí release. Instead, Rodman suggested that what changed Ayatollah Khomeiniís calculus was Iraqís invasion of Iran. The war challenged the Islamic Republicís very existence. The cost of continuing Iranís isolation by holding American hostages had grown too great to bear.

    The second time Iranian authorities reversed course and dropped long-standing demands involved Khomeiniís war aims. The Iraqi invasion had caught Khomeinióand just about everyone elseóby surprise. It took about two years for the Iranian army to push back the Iraqi invaders out of Iranian territory.

    After the Iranian army recaptured Khorramshahr, Khomeini considered accepting a ceasefire, but his revolutionary advisers convinced him not only to order his army into Iraqi territory, but to continue all the way to Jerusalem. There followed six more years of stalemate, at the cost of almost a half million more lives. Describing it akin to ďdrinking a chalice of poison,Ē Khomeini accepted the ceasefire he had rejected years earlier; the cost of continuing his policy had become too great for even the self-declared deputy of the Messiah on Earth to bear. Khomeini was not going to pursue war at the cost of collapsing the regime that was his lifeís vision.

    Fast forward 30 years: No unilateral or multilateral sanction has come close to isolating Iran to the degree that it was in 1981 when Khomeini agreed to release his American hostages. Indeed, the Obama administration has waived penalties on Iranís top 20 trading partners, in effect making American sanctions little more than symbolic.

    Turkeyís trade with Iran, for example, has increased more than tenfold over the past decade. Against this context, the suggestion that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whom Obama has named as one of his closest international friends, simply needs a little more time to unravel Turkeyís interests in Iran is false. Every loophole to which Obama and Clinton agree in order to assuage allies undercuts any possibility that the current Iranian regime will ever reverse course.

    Sanctions exist on a spectrum from the broad-based to the targeted. Against Iran, Western politicians have sought to target specific companies and individuals to avoid hurting the broader populace who bear little responsibility for their unelected leadership. Erring on the side of caution, however, allows the regime effectively to play anti-sanctions Three-card Monte.

    When the United Nations or U.S. Treasury Department designates an Iranian company as involved in Iranís illicit nuclear or missile programs, Iranís leaders simply take a state-owned factory and, in the name of economic reform and privatization, offer an IPO on the Tehran stock exchange. The purchaser is almost always a Revolutionary Guards-owned front company which, within hours, can shift operations from the sanctioned firm to the new company. The only way to undercut Iranís strategy is to sanction whole industries, something Obama, his European counterparts, and the United Nations are unwilling to do.

    Simply put, for sanctions to work, Iranís isolation must be absolute and the costs imposed on the regime must be beyond that which its leaders can at present imagine. Rather than sequence the application of sanctions, they must be imposed at once. American officials will gain leverage, and can tie the dismantling of Iranís nuclear program to their lifting. The commercial and diplomat incentives Obama and Clinton now embrace only reward Iranian malfeasance.

    It is time to face down the Iranian leadership to convey that they cannot imagine the pain the United States and its allies are capable of inflicting. The Iranian leadership may respond with bluster but, if policymakers are serious both about avoiding a prolonged military conflict with Iran and denying the Islamic Republic a nuclear weapons capability, then the United States will have no choice but to call Iranís bluff. When Khomeini challenged American resolve in 1988, Reagan ordered Iranís navy destroyed. It is time to signal to Tehran the true costs of its actions. If history is any guide, the ayatollahs will blink first.

    Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Follow him on Twitter@mrubin1971.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/...#ixzz209iIouIT
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Iran says it will block passageway to stop oil

    Associated Press

    Published 06:15 p.m., Saturday, July 7, 2012

    1 of 2





    • Iranian navy conducts the "Velayat-90" naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on January 1, 2012. Iran defiantly announced that it had tested a new missile and made an advance in its nuclear programme after the United States unleashed extra sanctions that sent its currency to a record low. AFP PHOTO/JAMEJAMONLINE/EBRAHIM NOROOZI (Photo credit should read EBRAHIM NOROOZI/AFP/Getty Images) Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi, AFP/Getty Images / SF









    Tehran -- - Iran will block the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil flows, if its interests are seriously threatened, a senior Iranian military commander said Saturday.


    "We do have a plan to close the Strait of Hormuz," state media quoted Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi as saying Saturday. "A Shiite nation (Iran) acts reasonably and would not approve interruption of a waterway ... unless our interests are seriously threatened."


    The comments by Firouzabadi, the chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff, come days after the European Union enforced a total oil embargo against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program. The move follows sanctions already imposed against Iran by the United States and the United Nations.


    The United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China are negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear program, which the West suspects aims to make a bomb.


    Iran denies the charge. It says that its right to enrich is enshrined in the nuclear nonproliferation treaty - and therefore sees demands to curtail higher enrichment as contravening international law. It says it needs to enrich to that level to power a research reactor and make medical isotopes.


    Israel has warned of possible air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and the United States has said all options are on the table should negotiations fail to bring Tehran to compromise.


    The halt in crude oil imports from Iran is intended to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic to stop enriching uranium to the 20 percent level.


    The Western powers fear material produced at that level - well above the 3.5 percent enrichment needed for energy-producing reactors - can be turned into weapons-grade material in a matter of months.



    Iranian lawmakers have prepared a bill that would order the country's military to stop tankers headed to countries that have joined the oil ban.


    But Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, was quoted by Iranian media on Saturday as saying that the proposed bill has not yet been studied by parliament.


    Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards has warned that Tehran would order the closure of the Strait of Hormuz if the country's oil exports are blocked.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    One Killed as US Ship Fires on Boat in Strait of Hormuz

    Monday, 16 Jul 2012 12:26 PM



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    An American vessel fired on a boat Monday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, killing one person and injuring three, according to a U.S. consular official in Dubai.

    The official gave no further details, but it appeared the boat could have been mistaken as a threat in Gulf waters not far from Iran's maritime boundaries.

    Dozens of police and other Emirati officials crowded around the white-hulled boat, which sat docked after the incident in a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors.

    The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 30 feet (9 meters) long and powered by three outboard motors. Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.

    Rescue workers were seen carrying one person in a body bag off the boat and placing it in an ambulance as fishermen looked on. Officials moved the boat from the harbor shortly afterward.

    An Emirati rescue official at the scene confirmed the casualty toll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident between the two allies.

    U.S. military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Gulf without incident, but speed boats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard have passed close to U.S. ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.

    In early 2008, then President George W. Bush accused Iran of a "provocative act" after five small Iranian craft buzzed around the destroyer USS Hopper.

    Tensions are elevated in the Gulf after Iran last week renewed threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz — the route for one-fifth of the world's oil — in retaliation for tighter sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program. The U.S. recently boosted its naval presence in the Gulf with additional minesweepers and other warships.

    The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said it was investigating the Monday shooting. The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi had no immediate comment, referring all questions to the Navy.



    Read more on Newsmax.com: One Killed as US Ship Fires on Boat in Strait of Hormuz
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  8. #48
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Official: U.S. ship fires at boat off Dubai; 1 dead
    Updated 54m ago


    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The U.S. Navy says a security team aboard one of its ships fired on a small boat after it disregarded warnings and raced toward the vessel near the Dubai port of Jebel Ali..

    By Almoutasim Almaskery, AP

    Lt. Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, says sailors aboard the USNS Rappahannock issued a series of warnings Monday before resorting to lethal force using a .50-caliber machine gun.

    A U.S. consular official and an Emirati rescue official in Dubai told the Associated Press that one person was killed and three were wounded in the shooting. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident between the two allies.

    Dozens of police and other Emirati officials crowded around the white-hulled boat, which sat docked after the incident in a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors.

    The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 30 feet long and powered by three outboard motors. Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.

    Rescue workers were seen carrying one person in a body bag off the boat and placing it in an ambulance as fishermen looked on. Officials moved the boat from the harbor shortly afterward.

    An Emirati rescue official at the scene confirmed the casualty toll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident between the two allies.

    U.S. military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Gulf without incident, but speed boats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard have passed close to U.S. ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.

    In early 2008, then President Bush accused Iran of a "provocative act" after five small Iranian craft buzzed around the destroyer USS Hopper.

    Tensions are elevated in the Gulf after Iran last week renewed threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz— the route for one-fifth of the world's oil — in retaliation for tighter sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program. The U.S. recently boosted its naval presence in the Gulf with additional minesweepers and other warships.

    Emirati officials could not be reached for comment.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Netanyahu, Clinton vow cooperation on Iran

    By JPOST.COM STAFF, KHALED ABU TOAMEH
    07/16/2012 20:35
    Clinton says US, Israel consulting on "almost daily basis"; Palestinian officials skeptical of peace breakthroughs after US Secretary of State meets with Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad.


    Photo: Moshe Milner / GPO Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Monday night and vowed cooperation on a broad range of issues, with Iran standing out, in particular, among them.


    "We have our common goals to make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon," Netanyahu said prior to the meeting.


    Clinton said: "We will continue to consult closely as we have on an almost daily basis between our two governments to chart the best way forward for peace and stability for Israel, the United States and the world."


    Egypt, Syria and the peace process were also expected to be on the agenda.


    Clinton also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday, but the Palestinian Authority said Clinton did not carry new ideas that could pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks with Israel.


    Following the meeting, a PA official in Ramallah said that the talks focused on the PA’s demand for additional weapons to its security forces in the West Bank and the release of Palestinians from Israeli prisons.


    The PA is demanding the release of Palestinians who were imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo Accords and permission to import weapons before its leaders agree to return to the negotiating table.


    PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who met with Clinton in Paris last week, presented his demands to the US Administration and requested that Washington exert pressure on Israel to respond favorably.


    The official did not say whether Clinton relayed to Fayyad a reply from the Israeli government to the PA demands.


    However, the official pointed out that Clinton did not carry new ideas that could facilitate the resumption of the peace process.


    “We don’t expect a breakthrough as the Americans are too busy with their presidential election,” the PA official told The Jerusalem Post.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    U.S. Navy ship fires at small boat in Persian Gulf

    By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
    updated 1:44 PM EDT, Mon July 16, 2012


    The USNS Rappahannock, a fuel resupply ship, fired on what the officials called a "small, white pleasure craft."

    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • One person appears to have been killed, U.S. officials say
    • The boat approached too near the USNS Rappahannock, the officials say
    • The shots were intended to disable the boat, they say



    Washington (CNN) -- A U.S. military supply ship fired Monday at a small boat in the Persian Gulf after it came too close, apparently killing one person on board, two U.S. officials said.
    The USNS Rappahannock, a fuel resupply ship, fired on what the officials called a "small, white pleasure craft" 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Dubai port of Jebel Ali.
    The small boat appeared to be headed for that port, the officials said, adding that their information was preliminary. The U.S. ship verbally warned the smaller boat when it was 1,200 yards (1,100 meters) away and fired at least one warning shot before the decision was made to fire shots to disable the boat, the officials said.
    "In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors on the USNS Rappahannock ... used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force," the Navy said in a statement.
    "The U.S. crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach. When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun."
    Officials described the course of events as standard procedures when a small boat gets too close to a U.S. Navy ship.
    The officials, who would not be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, also described the small boat as having made a series of maneuvers, but emphasized they were waiting for more details about what exactly happened.
    A United Arab Emirates source said the UAE would follow up after a review.
    Jebel Ali is 22 miles (35 kilometers) southwest of Dubai and 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Abu Dhabi. With 67 berths and extensive dry-dock facilities, it is the largest man-made port in the world and the largest port in the Gulf region and in the Middle East.
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  11. #51
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    US Navy ship fires on boat off UAE




    Monday, July 16, 2012
    7DAYS
    Follow


    A security team aboard a US Navy refueling vessel fired upon an approaching motor boat off the United Arab Emirates on Monday after it ignored warnings, a US defence official told Reuters.

    Reuters reported that the official was speaking on condition of anonymity.
    It was not immediately clear to the official whether anyone was injured or killed.


    1. The USNS Rappahannock reportedly fired on a ship off the UAE coast



    But Reuters reported that the source said the boat was believed to have sped away after being fired upon by the crew aboard the USNS Rappahannock, according to an initial report.
    According to a separate report by the BBC, the US Navy in Bahrain, where the 5th Fleet is based, said in a statement that a security team on board the ship fired on a small motor boat after it disregarded warnings and "rapidly approached" the ship off Jebel Ali.
    "In accordance with navy force protection procedures, the sailors... used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force," the statement said.
    "The US crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach. When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50-calibre machine gun."
    No casaulties have been confirmed, however AP news agency reported one person had been killed.
    The BBC quoted the US Navy statement as saying the incident was being investigated.
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  12. #52
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Monday, July 16, 2012, 20:39 by AFP

    Fisherman killed as US ship fires on small Indian boat


    An Indian fisherman was killed and three others were wounded today when a US navy ship fired at their small boat off Dubai in the tense waters of the southern Gulf, officials said.
    US defence officials said the motorboat had ignored warnings not to approach the refuelling ship USNS Rappahannock, and that sailors on board the American vessel feared it could pose a threat.
    "Since 2000, we've been very concerned about small boats," a defence official in Washington told AFP, referring to the year of a deadly suicide bomb attack against the destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.
    A United Arab Emirates official said one fisherman was killed and three other Indians were wounded.
    "The services concerned are now investigating this incident," foreign ministry official Tareq Amed al-Hidan said, quoted by state news agency WAM.
    A statement from the US Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain and on alert for possible Iranian action in Gulf waters, said the crew had opened fire as a last resort.
    "An embarked security team aboard a US navy vessel fired upon a small motor vessel after it disregarded warnings and rapidly approached the US ship near Jebel Ali," it said, referring to an Emirati port city.
    "The USNS Rappahannock used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force," it said.
    "The US crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach," it added.
    "When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50-calibre machine gun."
    The US navy has been building up its forces in the oil-rich region amid mounting tensions with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
    Tehran has warned it could close the Strait of Hormuz in the southern Gulf if international sanctions begin to bite, potentially disrupting shipping and world oil supplies through the strategic waterway.
    Washington has deployed two aircraft carriers to the region -- the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Enterprise -- and doubled its minesweeper fleet in the area from four to eight ships on June 23.
    Earlier today, the Pentagon confirmed that it had brought forward the deployment off a third strike group, led by the carrier USS John-Stennis, by four months in order to further bolster its presence.
    The deployment aims to warn off Iran over its threats to mine the narrow strait through which about a fifth of the world's traded oil passes.
    In October 2000, 17 US sailors were killed when militants in an explosives-laden skiff blew a 30-by-30-foot (10-by-10-metre) hole in the USS Cole in Aden. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
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  13. #53
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Rumor has it, some countries are calling the US shooting at a small boat that refused to turn off "an act of war".

    I can't find any open news on it yet.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    So what we have here is "escalation". Turkey called the downing of it's plane by Syria "an act of war".

    Now we're hearing that the US shooting that boat is an "act of war".

    This is the type of escalation we would expect in the cold war and we can expect it to simply get worse as time goes on until war actually breaks out.

    This "war" won't just be Iran and Israel (or the US). It will involved Syria, Iran, Israel, the US and Russia, at the VERY LEAST.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    FNC is reporting a major build up of US forces along the Strait of Hormuz. Missile Defense sites are being put in place, and other support functions on the west/south side. Mine sweeper "exercise" is about to start, the biggest one "ever".

    The US has decided that the Strait will remain open no matter what.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Persian Gulf
    “Halt Or We Will Shoot”
    By Mark Thompson | @MarkThompson_DC | July 17, 2012 | +


    When the first reports flashed over the wires Monday that the USNS Rappahannock fired a .50 caliber machine gun at a fast-approaching craft in the Persian Gulf, the first thought that flashed through many minds was: Thank God – another USS Cole averted.

    But in the hours after the shooting, it became increasingly clear that the small craft approaching the largely civilian-manned replenishment oiler wasn’t a wave-skimming bomb but a fishing boat, perhaps piloted by a drunk or deranged captain, or someone suffering from heat stroke.

    But how the heck are armed sailors — with the fate of their vessel, not to mention their shipmates, possibly imperiled — supposed to react? “In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors…used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force,” the Navy’s 5th Fleet said in a statement from its base in Bahrain. The Navy tightened security regulations in the region after a small inflatable boat approached the USS Cole in Aden harbor in 2000 and exploded alongside, killing 17 sailors.

    The shooting left one Indian fisherman dead and three seriously wounded, the United Arab Emirates said. The event occurred about 10 miles off the UAE coast, near its port of Jebel Ali.

    Tehran denounced the attack. “We have announced time and again that the presence of foreign forces can be a threat to regional security,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on state television. ”Certainly regional countries with the help of one another can provide security in the best possible way. If they join hands, with their defensive capabilities, they don’t need the presence of foreign forces. Anywhere where you see insecurity we have always seen the hand of foreign forces there.”

    The sailors who fired had grounds for concern, given their location. They fired just beyond the Strait of Hormuz, inside the Persian Gulf. Navy officers have said for years that Iranian speedboats routinely buzz U.S. ships in the region.

    “It’s clear that the Iranians have taken an approach in which they are going to attempt to use small boats, swarms, cruise missiles, mines, perhaps suicide boats, small submarines,” Vice Admiral Mark Fox said last year, when he was commanding the Navy’s 5th Fleet, responsible for the Persian Gulf. “They are doing everything they can to create capability in what we would refer to as an asymmetric fashion against our conventional superiority.”

    But by late Monday Washington time, it was clear the boat wasn’t Iranian.

    The firing was similar to the 1988 downing of Iran Air 655, a civilian jetliner shot down by the USS Vincennes in 1988 after the warship mistook it for a threatening Iranian F-14. All 290 aboard, including 66 children, died.

    That’s what happens when you bring firepower to a troubled corner of the world and warn all comers not to trifle with your presence. Meanwhile, in related news, the Pentagon announced it is dispatching a second aircraft carrier to Iran’s ‘hood several months early to ensure there will be a pair of U.S. flattops in the unsettled region for the foreseeable future. Iran has repeatedly threatened to shut down the strait — through which much of the world’s crude oil flows — as tensions between Tehran and much of the rest of the world simmer over its nuclear-development efforts.

    Read more: http://battleland.blogs.time.com/201...#ixzz20sybOcaI
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Well, I Guess They Know Now

    By Jeffrey Goldberg
    Jul 15 2012, 12:42 PM ET From The Los Angeles Times:
    WASHINGTON -- The Navy is rushing tiny underwater drones to the Persian Gulf to help find and destroy sea mines as part of an American military buildup aimed at stopping Iran from closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the event of a crisis, U.S. officials said.
    So far, so good. American officials are providing The Los Angeles Times with information suggesting that U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for American security in the Persian Gulf, is deploying a new defensive weapon. I can understand why some officials might want to keep this secret -- why tell the Iranians what we're doing? -- but obviously a decision was made to let the Iranians know just what they're up against as a way to dissuade them from carrying out any sort of sea mine-related hijinks.

    But then, a bit further down in the story, comes this:
    The Obama administration previously sent two aircraft carriers and a squadron of F-22 fighter jets to the region and is keeping two Army brigades in Kuwait. The Pentagon has acknowledged those deployments, but has not publicly disclosed sending underwater drones, apparently to avoid alerting Iran.
    Now sets in confusion. These two paragraphs should not be cohabitating within the same article. Some U.S. officials obviously want Iran to know about these underwater drones; otherwise, they wouldn't have told The Los Angeles Times about them. But are these officials operating counter to the interests of the Pentagon, which, the story tells us, wanted to keep the existence of these underwater drones secret, to avoid alerting Iran? The story provides no answers to these questions, nor does it even attempt to explore this obvious contradiction. Did someone in the American government just leak secret information against the wishes of the Pentagon? This is not journalism that illuminates.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Ok got something more now:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...googlenews_wsj

    Pentagon Bulks Up Defenses in the Gulf

    By ADAM ENTOUS and JULIAN E. BARNES
    Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

    A U.S. military facility in 2008 in the Negev desert in Israel that deploys an X-Band radar system. The Pentagon is building a new radar station in Qatar for an X-Band as part of a buildup to counter Iran.





    The Pentagon is building a missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar and organizing its biggest-ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf, as preparations accelerate for a possible flare-up with Iran, according to U.S. officials.


    The radar site will complete the backbone of a system designed to defend U.S. interests and allies such as Israel and European nations against Iranian rockets, officials told The Wall Street Journal. The minesweeping exercises, in September, will be the first such multilateral drills in the region, and are expected to be announced by U.S. officials Tuesday.






    The Pentagon is building a missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar and organizing its biggest-ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf. Julian Barnes has details on The News Hub. Photo: AFP/GettyImages.


    The Pentagon's moves reflect concern that tensions with Iran could intensify as the full weight of sanctions targeting the country's oil exports takes hold this summer. Though U.S. officials described both the radar site and the naval exercises as defensive in nature, the deployments likely will be seen by Iran as provocations.


    The latest measures also could help the U.S. reassure Israel and other anxious allies that the Pentagon is taking steps to counter Iran after months of seemingly fruitless negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program. Top U.S. officials have privately voiced concern that Israel might strike Iran's nuclear sites. Iran denies its nuclear program is aimed at building nuclear weapons.


    The U.S. moves are intended to address the two Iranian offensive capabilities Pentagon planners most worry about: Tehran's arsenal of ballistic missiles and its threat to shut down the oil-shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz by mining them.


    Underscoring concerns, the Pentagon said Monday it is sending an aircraft carrier, the John C. Stennis, to the Middle East several months early to ensure two carriers are present in the region at all times. One of two aircraft carriers now in the area was scheduled to leave before its replacement arrived, prompting the Pentagon to send the Stennis, Pentagon press secretary George Little said.


    Enlarge Image








    The rising tensions in the Persian Gulf were apparent Monday when the USNS Rappahannock, a Navy refueling ship with a mostly civilian crew, fired on a small boat in the waters off the United Arab Emirates, killing one fisherman, according to a U.A.E. official.


    The Pentagon chose to place the new radar site in Qatar because it is home to the largest U.S. military air base in the region, Al Udeid Air Base, analysts say. More than 8,000 troops are stationed there and at another U.S. base in Qatar.


    Qatari officials in Washington and Doha didn't respond to requests for comment. Qatar has taken on roles in conflicts in Libya and Syria, winning U.S. praise. Qatar guards a more neutral stance when it comes to Iran, maintaining close relations with Tehran, which shares ownership with Doha of the region's largest natural gas field.


    The radar base in Qatar is slated to house a powerful AN/TPY-2 radar, also known as an X-Band radar, and supplement two similar arrays already in place in Israel's Negev Desert and in central Turkey, officials said. Together, the three radar sites form an arc that U.S. officials say can detect missile launches from northern, western and southern Iran.


    Those sites will enable U.S. officials and allied militaries to track missiles launched from deep inside Iran, which has an arsenal of missiles capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe. Intelligence agencies believe Iran could have a ballistic missile as early as 2015 that could threaten the U.S.


    The radar installations in turn are being linked to missile-interceptor batteries throughout the region and to U.S. ships with high-altitude interceptor rockets. The X-Band radar provides images that can be used to pinpoint rockets in flight.


    Officials said the U.S. military's Central Command, which is overseeing the buildup to counter Iran, also wants to deploy the Army's first Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile-interceptor system, known as a THAAD, to the region in the coming months, possibly in the United Arab Emirates.


    The THAAD has its own radar, so deploying it separately from the X-Bands provides even more coverage and increases the system's accuracy, officials said.


    The X-Band radar and the THAAD will provide an "extra layer of defense," supplementing Patriot batteries that are used to counter lower-altitude rockets, said Riki Ellison, chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, which supports developing and deploying the systems.


    "There's an effort to get it up and running as soon as possible," a senior U.S. defense official said. "But it's not like there's some rush to be ready for imminent conflict."


    The Pentagon has been trying for years to develop an X-Band site in the Gulf. The effort has been complicated by disagreements between Arab states reluctant to pool intelligence and other missile-defense resources to create a regional umbrella against Iranian rockets.


    Construction of the radar base was due to be completed this month in a remote area, according to Pentagon documents. The documents, dated May 10, didn't disclose the name of the country or the region where the X-Band base was being built.
    Officials said the location of the new site in Qatar was being kept secret because of the sensitivity surrounding any U.S. military deployments in the emirate.


    The Pentagon told congressional committees that it will cost $12.2 million to construct a pad for the radar, roads, barracks and security measures at the site.


    The first X-Band system, built by Raytheon Co., was deployed in Japan in 2006 to track North Korean launches. A second was placed in Israel's Negev Desert in 2008. The U.S. recently put a third in Turkey.
    More




    In the coming minesweeping exercises, the U.S. and its allies will practice detecting and destroying mines with ships, helicopters and robotic underwater drones in the Persian Gulf and other locations in the region, though not in the strait itself.

    U.S. officials said 20 nations would take part in the exercises, scheduled for Sept. 16 to 27, but didn't say which ones.

    The U.S. Navy has doubled the number of minesweepers in the region, to eight vessels, as part of a buildup aimed at deterring Iran from attempting to close the strait. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait, through which nearly 20% of the world's traded oil passes.


    A senior military official said the minesweeping exercise shouldn't be seen as provocative.


    Amid regional tensions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to reassure Israel on Monday that U.S. efforts to block Iran's nuclear ambitions are working, and need more time to play out. "Our two-track policy of diplomacy and pressure is in full move here," she said after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


    —Nathan Hodge, Margaret Coker and Joshua Mitnick contributed to this article.

    Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com and Julian E. Barnes at julian.barnes@wsj.com

    A version of this article appeared July 17, 2012, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Pentagon Bulks Up Defenses In the Gulf.
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?

    Why Iran will ignite a regional war, sooner rather than later

    By Lisa Daftari

    Published July 16, 2012

    FoxNews.com

    The Islamic Republic of Iran is in protection mode; its mere existence depends on protecting its nuclear sites and maintaining Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria. Now, the possibility that Assad’s regime will fall, together with the intensification of sanctions against Iran that were implemented early this month, have politically and economically isolated the Iranian regime to a point where the only way out is for it to create its own global diversion through military provocation.

    Currently, three snowballing events against the backdrop of mounting Western pressure on Iran and failed negotiations at the United Nations Security Council 5+1 talks have, and continue to limit, Iran’s political and economic flexibility, even if the regime’s saber rattling propaganda declares otherwise.

    First, sanctions are further crippling the already weak and crumbling Iranian economy. Both the regime and the people of Iran are already feeling the intense economic pressure as the prices of basic goods have skyrocketed and the value of the rial currency has plummeted. Should Iran refuse to stop enriching uranium, additional sanctions will be implemented, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has publicly stated.

    Second, the probable fall of the Assad regime and even its current deterioration are undermining the axis of survival created between the two countries, thereby challenging Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah in Lebanon and its strategic geopolitical status in the region.

    And lastly, oil prices continue to decline and Iran’s oil output is at the lowest recorded level in the last 20 years, both Iran and Syria are becoming further weakened both economically and politically. Prospects seem bleak. OPEC projects that global oil demand in 2013 is expected to slow to 800,000 barrels a day from 900,000 barrels a day in 2012.

    A regional escalation would be the ideal distraction to take global pressure off Iran’s nuclear agenda and prevent harm to and dissolving of Assad’s regime.

    This is the same strategy that the Iranian regime used in 2006 when fear that the International Atomic Energy Agency was going to transfer the country’s nuclear portfolio of violations to the United Nations Security Council led to the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Islamic Jihad, with the assistance of Hamas on the Gaza border.

    This was then followed by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border. These events took Iran’s nuclear proliferation program out of the international spotlight in exchange for an intense military standoff between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    Now, a politically and economically cornered Islamic Republic suffering from the latest implementation of targeted sanctions, a weakening of the Assad regime and further economic deterioration of both Syrian and Iranian regimes, is vying for a similar escalation that is not too far away.

    An alternative to provocations that will ultimately and inevitably lead to a large-scale military showdown in the region is for the regime to fold. In its 32 year reign, the Islamic Regime surrendered twice before when it was brought to its knees by foreign entities; once in 1988 when the father of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini signed a ceasefire with Saddam Hussein sealing off a long and bloody 8 year Iran-Iraq War, and again in 2003, the Islamic Republic suspended its nuclear program fearing American military presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan at the time.

    Iran will opt for conflagration over surrender in the coming months. The pressures are high, yet the circumstances of 1988 and 2003 are absent. More importantly, the Islamic regime in Tehran now boasts the unwavering support and encouragement of Russia.

    Russia has openly supported both the Iranian and Syrian regimes at a time when the tension between Iran and the west coincides with a growing strain between the U.S. and Russia. The regimes in Tehran and Damascus enjoy the support of Russia while Russian President Vladmir Putin has positioned himself to use Iran and Syria to strategically advance Russia’s standing vis-ŗ-vis the U.S.

    The final element that makes a provocation in the coming weeks even more likely is the significant build-up of U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, originally intended to counter Iranian threats to close off of the Strait of Hormuz. Iran responded by firing a test-fire missile exercise, launching the “Grand Prophet 7,” which can reach up to 1300 km, enough to reach Israel and the Gulf states. Tehran’s message to the U.S. is that they will not be undermined or weakened by Western intimidation. Now, with U.S. presence in the Gulf, a global military conflict of catastrophic proportions could come from the slightest brush of an elbow.

    We must assume the Iranian regime is sufficiently rational in understanding that whatever damage they could cause to the regional and western front, they will also suffer immensely. Following that premise, one is tempted to believe that their current conduct is only an exercise of extreme brinkmanship strategy, built on the assumption that President Obama, focused on his re-election, and Europe, as its historical record has proven, will back down first.

    Lisa Daftari is a journalist and commentator who specializes in counterterrorism, Middle East and Iranian affairs. For more, visit her website: www.LisaDaftari.com.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/...#ixzz20t0zfvY7
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    Default Re: War with Iran about to start?





    US report reveals Iran's military strategy

    Omar Karmi

    Jul 15, 2012



    WASHINGTON // Iran wants a diplomatic solution to its stand-off with the international community over its nuclear programme, but does not want to compromise over its core interests, according to the US military, even as Tehran yesterday again threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and not allow " a single drop of oil" to pass.



    Tehran will increase its military presence in international waters, said Ali Fadavi, naval commander in Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), yesterday, in response to tightening international sanctions and reports of an increased US navy presence in the Gulf.


    "If they (the US) do not obey international laws and the IRGC's warnings, it will have very bad consequences for them," Cmdr Fadavi said, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.


    "The IRGC's naval forces have had the ability since the (Iran-Iraq) war to completely control the Strait of Hormuz and not allow even a single drop of oil to pass through."


    "This IRGC naval force presence in international waters will increase."


    A Pentagon report to the US Congress about Iran's military capabilities that was declassified last month but only reported this week, concludes that while Tehran does not want to compromise on its core principles, it does want a diplomatic solution.


    The report also found that Iran continues to develop technologies "applicable" to nuclear weapons, is engaged in uranium enrichment in defiance of UN resolutions, and has boosted the "lethality" of its ballistic missile systems.


    In the event of a military confrontation or an attempted invasion, it is Iran's unconventional forces that the US military worries most about.


    "Iran's unconventional forces are trained according to its asymmetric warfare doctrine and would present a formidable force while defending Iranian territory," the authors write.


    The report defines Iran's unconventional forces as its support for groups such as Hamas, Hizbollah, Iraqi Shiite groups and the Taliban, which could cause a regional response to any attack on it.


    Some suggest a military confrontation is all but inevitable as diplomacy stalls, international sanctions bite deeper and the military build-up on both sides continues.


    On Thursday, the US treasury department announced sanctions against 11 companies, 20 Iranian financial institutions, and several individuals US officials said were either involved in furthering Iran's nuclear programme or circumventing existing sanctions.


    The list of companies include two with offices in the UAE - International General Resourcing FZE and Good Luck Shipping - as well as companies based in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Malaysia.


    On Wednesday the Los Angeles Times reported that the US navy was deploying underwater drones in the Gulf to target Iranian mines that might disrupt traffic through the Strait of Hormuz.


    Iran has repeatedly threatened it would close the strait - through which about 20 per cent of the world's oil is shipped - in response to the ever-harsher sanctions being imposed on the country because of its nuclear programme.


    Iran says it is developing nuclear power solely for peaceful use. The international community, led by the US, believes Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons.


    Diplomatic efforts through the P5+1 countries - the UN Security Council's permanent five members and Germany - continue but have made little headway.


    Iran's nuclear programme is widely seen as a matter of national sovereignty in Iran, even among opposition parties and leaders. Iran's leadership had long ago concluded that nuclear weapons were essential to ensure the survival of the regime, said Roby Barrett, a Gulf security expert with the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank.


    Mr Barrett said the Iranian leadership sees nuclear weapons as being crucial to the country's national interest.


    "Iran would not now be going through what it is going through - that's how Tehran sees it - if Iran had nuclear weapons," he said.


    With little room for manoeuvre, chances of finding diplomatic common ground are remote.


    Israel's position, that the mere Iranian ability to build a bomb, not the actual existence of nuclear weapons, would trigger Israeli military action, has effectively pushed any strategy of containment off the table.


    Barack Obama, the US president, also ruled out the idea in a speech to Aipac, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, this year, where he said the US would do everything possible to prevent an Iranian nuclear capability.


    "Sanctions are the last-ditch effort to prevent military action and force a diplomatic dialogue that will bring real concessions from the Iranians," said Mr Barrett.


    If Iran is unwilling to budge on what it sees as its core interests, as the Pentagon predicts, there is a "real possibility" of military action, said Mr Barrett.


    If it goes down that road, he said, the US should "not make the mistake we have made before of thinking this is going to be simple and easy".
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