Wednesday, July 2, 2008

IRAN COUNTDOWN

World Tribune Israel has signaled the U.S. and other allies that air operations to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities are not imminent. Israeli leaders have sent messages to several Western countries that ruled out an attack on Teheran in 2008. Israel told the governments of Britain, France and the United States that the Jewish state would allow for yet another diplomatic effort to halt Iran's uranium enrichment program. . .

Britain and France have become concerned over the prospect of an Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran. Britain has issued an alert to its embassy in Bahrain of an imminent U.S. confrontation with Teheran.

On June 30, U.S. Fifth Fleet commander Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff warned that Iran would not be allowed to block Gulf shipping. Cosgriff, responding to Iranian threats to halt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, said this would constitute an "act of war.". . .

On Tuesday, the U.S. television network, ABC News, reported that Israel could strike Iran's nuclear facilities in late 2008. ABC quoted a senior Pentagon official as reporting an "increasing likelihood" that Israel would attack Iran once it produced enough highly-enriched uranium to assemble a nuclear weapon. . .

A senior Israeli security source said the military was not ready to destroy Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. The source told the Israeli daily Maariv that the military, weakened by an inadequate budget, was incapable of a sustained strike. "Years of neglect, and cancellation of projects and budgets, have left us without strategic ability for effective attack," the Israeli source was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

AFP Any military attack on Iran would have a "catastrophic" effect on the Middle East, a Russian foreign ministry official said after reports that Israel might launch such an attack. "All this is very dangerous. If force is used it will be catastrophic for the whole Middle East," the official told journalists on condition of anonymity. The official also said Iran was "ready to look seriously at proposals" presented on June 14 by six world powers aimed at getting the Islamic republic to suspend uranium enrichment. He called Iran's attitude a "positive signal." The comments came after US media reported on June 20 that Israeli jet pilots had trained for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear sites.

Iran's foreign minister calls talk of a U.S. on Israeli attack on his country "craziness." . . . "We do not foresee such a possibility at the moment. The Israeli government is facing a political breakdown within itself and within the region, so we do not foresee such a possibility for that regime to resort to such craziness. . . The United States, too, is not in a position where it can engage in, take another risk in the region. Of course, there are people in the United States who are interested in that. But we think that the rational thinkers in the United States will prevent from that action being taken, and will prevent the imposition of another adventuresome act that would put pressure on the American taxpayers."

Reuters - Israel seems content to keep Iran and the rest of the world guessing uneasily about whether and when it might attack the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities. . . Iran derides the chatter as "psychological warfare" and threatens dire retaliation if any assault materialised. Gulf Arab states whose oil exports could be among Iranian reprisal targets shuffle nervously, as crude prices push higher. "Should Israel be stupid enough to attempt an attack on Iran, as has been repeatedly threatened, then of course Tehran has the perfect right to retaliate in kind," wrote the Dubai-based Gulf News daily in its editorial. "But it does not quell the existing nervousness of people in the region by Iran stating that as part of its retaliation it would block ... Gulf oil routes," the newspaper added.

The Israelis may believe that mere talk of military action can spur Iran to alter its behavior, or at least prompt tougher international action to induce Tehran to curb its nuclear quest -- which the Iranians say is only to produce energy, not bombs. Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, said Israel preferred for now to let diplomatic pressure run its course. "The talk (of military options) is designed to project deterrence, pressuring the Europeans to increase their pressure in hope this will curb Iran," he told Reuters in Jerusalem.

Yet the Israeli military is presumably honing contingency plans, given Israel's deeply rooted fears that a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten its existence -- even though the Jewish state has its own powerful, if undeclared, nuclear deterrent.

"The IDF should be ready for all options," former army chief of staff Moshe Yaalon told reporters last week. "A military strike in Iran is not an easy ride. It should be a last resort, but we shouldn't exclude it." He described Bolton's idea that an Israeli attack could take place between the U.S. election in November and the presidential inauguration in January as "very interesting speculation".

LA Times - A confidant of Iran's top political and religious authority took a veiled swipe at the country's outspoken president in a sign of strain within the leadership over handling international opposition to the Iranian nuclear program. Ali Akbar Velayati, who serves as the top foreign policy advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned in a newspaper article that Iranian officials must avoid making "provocative" statements, a directive widely believed to be aimed at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his loyalists.

In another challenge to the president, Velayati also spoke positively about incentives presented last month by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on behalf of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. The proposals were aimed at persuading Iran to stop enriching uranium. He stopped well short of advocating a suspension of Iran's enrichment program, a particular demand emphasized by the U.S. as a precondition for talks. . .

Velayati's remarks were among the strongest indicators of a split within Iran's opaque leadership circle over how best to handle the standoff with the West and Israel over the country's nuclear program. A media report Tuesday by a news organization close to the pragmatic chair of Iran's Expediency Council, Ahmadinejad rival Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, suggested that Iran might be willing to suspend or curtail uranium enrichment for a six-week period during which negotiations would take place.

3 Comments:

At July 2, 2008 3:46 PM, Anonymous Christopher F. said...

Are our leaders doing everything possible to prevent a military conflict with Iran that threatens to undermine America’s strategic interests in the Gulf? Over the past 30 years, U.S. leaders attempted to incentivize and deincentivize behaviors to moderate the regime’s bellicose foreign policy towards America. Both strategies embolden the regime’s desire to defy the U.S. and allow the regime to persecute Iran’s vibrant dissident movement.

Since neither strategy proved successful, Washington must create the leverage it needs by exploiting the regime’s greatest weakness. The regime knows its brutal human rights record is their Achilles heel. To remain in power, the regime persecutes any challenge to their authority. If our leaders put the international media spotlight on Iran’s human rights abuses and support Iran’s democratic dissidents, the regime will be forced to become accountable for their actions, democratic development will follow, and a democratic Iran will open Iran’s markets to international competition and U.S. investment. Are we really prepared to continue threatening our long term interests and sell out the Iranian people by striking a grand bargain with the regime or worse, bomb Iran?

 
At July 2, 2008 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The regime knows its brutal human rights record is their Achilles heel. To remain in power, the regime persecutes any challenge to their authority.

Which regime are you talking about? The Bush regime? There are millions of democratic dissidents waiting for democracy to develop in the U.S. again, and I don't mean "democracy" as a code word for globalist. Are we really prepared to continue threatening our long term interests and sell out the U.S. people by striking a grand bargain with the neocon regime or worse, bomb Iran?

 
At July 3, 2008 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still wondering when grown-ups will finally be making important political decisions, rather than a bunch of juvenile or pre-juvenile-acting "leaders." The ones here are bad enough, but the bullying, big-mouthed, braggarts who speak for Israel, are really entirely pitiable and embarassing to that nation.

Will the grown-up men please come to the fore and leave the little boys at home?

 

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