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  #31  
Old Thursday, April 27, 2006
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Post Iran 'could share nuclear skills'

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said his country is ready to share its nuclear technology with other nations.
Ayatollah Khamenei made the offer during a meeting with visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned the comments.
Earlier, Iran's top nuclear negotiator threatened to suspend co-operation with the UN's nuclear watchdog if Teheran faced sanctions over its nuclear work.
The UN Security Council has set a deadline of 28 April for Iran to freeze its programme of uranium enrichment, which has been the focus of concerns that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons.
The US is trying to rally support from the Security Council for tougher action against Iran, including sanctions - a move currently being resisted by Russia and China.
Sudanese ambitions
In his meeting with Mr Bashir, Ayatollah Khamenei said Iranian scientists' nuclear capability was "one example of the numerous scientific movements in the country".

"They [Western countries] have to understand they cannot resolve this issue through force

Ali Larijani
Iranian nuclear negotiator
"The Islamic Republic is ready to transfer this experience and the technology and knowledge of its scientists," the leader was quoted as saying.
In return, the Sudanese president praised Iran's enrichment of uranium as a great victory for the Islamic world.
Mr Bashir said last month his country was considering creating a civilian nuclear programme.
Ms Rice said she feared an "escape... of knowledge and expertise on these dangerous technologies".
Last year, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad spoke of sharing nuclear technology with other countries.
But the BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says that this time the offer comes from the very top, and seems to imply the technology could be shared with Sudan.
'Emblematic behaviour'
As well as threatening to end Iranian co-operation with the UN, negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran would "hide" its nuclear programme if it was attacked.
"They [Western countries] have to understand they cannot resolve this issue through force," Mr Larijani told a conference on Iran's controversial nuclear energy programme in Tehran.
Responding while on an official visit to Greece, Ms Rice said Iran's threats were "emblematic of the kind of Iranian behaviour seen over the past couple of years".
Ms Rice said the Security Council must now issue something more concrete than last month's "presidential statement", which gave Iran 30 days to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) directives.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civilian energy purposes only. The US and several other nations say they do not believe this.

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  #32  
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Post Talks fail to halt Iran programme

UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei has failed to convince Iran to freeze its nuclear programme during a brief visit to Tehran.
But he said both sides had agreed to continue an intensive dialogue over the next few weeks on the issue.
Iran announced two days ago it had succeeded in enriching uranium and has vowed not to back down.
The US said that when the UN Security Council reconvened there would have to be "consequence... for that defiance".
'Reasonable and logical'
Mr ElBaradei said his inspectors had taken samples to check to what degree Iran has successfully enriched uranium.
The results of the samples will be reported back to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
After meeting Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, Mr ElBaradei stressed that there was still time to negotiate a settlement by which "Iran's needs for nuclear power is assured and the concern of the international community is also...put to rest."
The IAEA head said they had a good discussion about "confidence-building measures", including a call by the UN Security Council for Iran to suspend all its nuclear activities.
Western nations suspect Iran of wanting to develop a nuclear weapon, but Tehran insists its plans are for a peaceful, civilian energy programme only.
Mr ElBaradei is to report back to the UN Security Council at the end of this month on whether Tehran is complying with its demand to stop all enrichment activity by 28 April, or risk isolation.
So far, Iran has adamantly refused to roll back its nuclear programme, the BBC's Francis Harrison in Tehran says.
Iran's position is that it is happy to co-operate with international inspections of its nuclear sites but will not stop its drive to produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, our correspondent adds.
Debate in Iran
Mr Larijani indicated, after his meeting with Mr ElBaradei, that the UN's demand for a return to a freeze of its nuclear programme was not the way to solve the problem.
"Every action must be reasonable and logical. We are cooperating in a constructive manner" with the IAEA, "so such a proposal is not very important to solve the problem," he said.
Speaking as Mr ElBaradei arrived in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "Our answer to those who are angry about Iran obtaining the full nuclear cycle is one phrase, we say: Be angry and die of this anger."
"We will not hold talks with anyone about the Iranian nation's right [to enrichment] and no one has the right to step back, even one iota," he said.
The US and Europe are pressing for sanctions against Iran, a step UN Security Council members Russia and China have opposed.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the council would have to look at measures to ensure Iran complied with its international obligations.
"When the Security Council reconvenes there will have to be some consequence for that action and that defiance. We will look at a whole range of options available to the Security Council," Ms Rice said.
A senior Chinese arms control official, Assistant Foreign Minister, Cui Tiankai, is due in Tehran for talks on Friday.
The BBC's Daniel Griffiths in Beijing says China has so far kept a low profile but it is increasingly keen to be seen as a responsible, international player, and Iran is a perfect opportunity to strengthen those credentials.
NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE

Mined uranium ore is purified and reconstituted into solid form known as yellowcake
Yellowcake is chemically processed and converted into a gas by heating it to above 64C (147F)
Gas is fed through centrifuges, where its isotopes separate and process is repeated until uranium is enriched
Low-level enriched uranium is used for nuclear fuel
Highly enriched uranium can be used in nuclear weapons



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  #33  
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Post Iran nuclear work 'irreversible'

Iran has called its uranium enrichment work "irreversible", days before a UN deadline for the programme to stop.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also said demands for Iran to suspend its nuclear research work were "not on the agenda".
The UN Security Council called on Iran to suspend enrichment by 28 April, amid fears it wants to make nuclear weapons.
Iran - which insists its programme is peaceful - announced this month it had enriched uranium for the first time.
The UN Security Council, in a statement issued on 29 March, asked nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report back within 30 days on whether Iran has complied with the UN call.
But Mr Asefi told a weekly news conference: "Iran's uranium enrichment and nuclear research and development activities are irreversible".
He said that so long as the IAEA report contained "expert assessment", there would be "nothing left to worry about".
Diplomatic flurry
"However, if the report comes out and somehow puts pressure on Iran or speaks with a language of threats, naturally Iran will not abandon its rights and it is prepared for all possible situations and has planned for it."
The BBC's Tehran correspondent, Frances Harrison, says there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity by Iran in the run-up to the deadline, and some calls internally for a less confrontational approach towards the West on the nuclear issue
Mr Asefi said Iran was still discussing with Russia a plan for Iran to enrich uranium on Russian soil.
Iran first gave details of the plan in February, and on Saturday, state radio said an outline agreement had been reached, but details were still to be worked out.
Our correspondent says that the problem with the plan, which has been seen as a possible solution to the stand-off with the West, is that Iranian officials continue to adamantly rule out halting enrichment research on their own soil.
Enrichment work
Iran's announcement that it had enriched uranium for the first time has thrown attention on to its enrichment technology.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said earlier this month that Iran was testing a more advanced centrifuge, known as a P-2.
The P-2 centrifuge can enrich uranium more quickly, raising fears in some Western capitals that Iran could develop nuclear weapons more quickly than originally thought.
Mr Asefi said Iran had not yet used P-2 centrifuges in its enrichment work.
"So far, we have never used P-2 centrifuges, and what we have used is P-1 machines. We have informed the agency (IAEA) about that.
"No-one can deny Iran from using these devices. However, they have not yet been used," said Mr Asefi.
Mr Asefi also said there were no plans for Iran to meet the US to discuss the situation in war-torn Iraq.
"Nothing has been scheduled and set. Preparations have not even been made for these talks," Mr Asefi told reporters.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had authorised the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to reach out to the Iranians for direct talks on Iraq, raising hopes that the two sides might also been drawn into discussions on the nuclear stand-off.
"We are not in hurry because we have been pessimistic about US intentions as we still are. It is nothing important," said Mr Asefi.

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  #34  
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Post Attack Iran, destroy the US constitution

By Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith

During the 2004 election, President George W Bush famously proclaimed that he didn't have to ask anyone's permission to defend the United States of America. Does that mean he can attack Iran without having to ask Congress? A new resolution being drafted by Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio may be a vehicle to remind Bush that he can't.

Bush has called news reports of plans to attack Iran "wild speculation" and declared that the United States is on a "diplomatic" track. But asked this week if his options included

planning for a nuclear strike, he repeated that "all options are on the table".

The president is acting as if the decisions that may get Americans into another war are his to make and his alone. So the Iran crisis poses not only questions of military feasibility and political wisdom but of constitutional usurpation. Bush's top officials openly assert that he can do anything he wants - including attacking another country - on his authority as commander-in-chief.

Last October, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee whether the president would circumvent congressional authorization if the White House chose military action against Iran or Syria. She answered, "I will not say anything that constrains his authority as commander-in-chief."

When pressed by Senator Paul Sarbanes about whether the administration can exercise a military option without an authorization from Congress, Rice replied, "The president never takes any option off the table, and he shouldn't."

The founding fathers of the United States were deeply concerned that the president's power to make war might become a vehicle for tyranny. So they crafted a constitution that included checks and balances on presidential power, among them an independent congress and judiciary, an executive power subject to laws written by Congress and interpreted by the courts, and an executive power to repel attacks but not to declare or finance war.

But the Bush doctrine of preemptive war, as laid out in the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States and reiterated this year, claims for the president the power to attack other countries simply because he asserts they pose a threat. It thereby removes the decision of war and peace from Congress and gives it to the president. It is, as Senator Robert Byrd put it, "unconstitutional on its face".

Congressional response
DeFazio is now preparing and seeking support from other House members for a resolution asserting that the president cannot initiate military action against Iran without congressional authorization.

"The imperial powers claimed by this administration are breathtaking in their scope. Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues were willing to cede our constitutional authorities to the president prior to the war in Iraq. We've seen how that turned out," DeFazio told the New York-based Nation newsmagazine. "Congress can't make the same mistake with respect to Iran. Yet the constant drumbeat we're hearing out of the administration, in the press and from think-tanks on Iran eerily echoes what we heard about Iraq.

"It likely won't be long until we hear from the president that he can take preemptive military action against Iran without congressional authorization, which is what he originally argued about Iraq. Or that Congress has already approved action against Iran via some prior vote, which he also argued about Iraq," DeFazio said. "That is why it is so important to put the administration, my colleagues and the American people on notice now that such arguments about unilateral presidential war powers have no merit. Our nation's founders were clear on this issue. There is no ambiguity."

There is considerable evidence that military action against Iran has already begun. Retired air force Colonel Sam Gardiner told the Cable News Network that "the decision has been made and military operations are under way". He said the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency recently told him that the Iranians have captured dissident units "and they've confessed to working with the Americans".

Journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker that "American combat troops are now operating in Iran". He quoted a government consultant who told him that the units were not only identifying targets but "studying the terrain, giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds".

Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has written to Bush, noting, "The presence of US troops in Iran constitutes a hostile act against that country," and urged him to report immediately to Congress on all activities involving US forces in Iran.

Bipartisan concern
Concern about presidential usurpation of the war power is not just a partisan matter. Former vice president Al Gore this year joined with former Republican congressman Bob Barr to express "our shared concern that America's constitution is in grave danger". As Gore explained, "In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power."

One of the stunning revelations of a recent spate of news stories is that top military brass are strongly opposed to the move toward military strikes. The Washington Post quotes a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Middle East specialist that "the Pentagon is arguing forcefully against it". According to Hersh's reporting in The New Yorker, the Joint Chiefs of Staff "had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran".

The Bush administration is putting military officials in a position where they will have to decide whether their highest loyalty is to the president or to the country and the constitution. Retired Lieutenant-General Gregory Newbold, who recently called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has criticized the US military brass for its quiescence while the Bush administration pursued "a fundamentally flawed plan" for "an invented war". Now he is calling on serving military officers to speak out.

The "generals' revolt" has not publicly targeted the plans to attack Iran. But its central critique concerns Rumsfeld's disregard for the US military's evaluation of the costs of the Iraq war and the scale of commitment it would require. Even if the generals don't speak about Iran specifically, their arguments about the costs of the Iraq war logically fit a future Iran war too.

The American people are by now deeply skeptical of Bush's reliability in matters of war and peace. In a recent Los Angeles Times poll, 54% of respondents said they did not trust Bush to "make the right decision about whether we should go to war with Iran", compared with 42% who did. Forty percent said the war in Iraq had made them less supportive of military action against Iran. But Americans are being systematically deprived of any alternative view of the Iranian threat, the consequences of US policy choices, or the real intentions of the Bush administration.

Congress and the US military allowed the Bush administration to bamboozle the country with false information and scare talk prior to the Iraq war - and they share responsibility for the resulting catastrophe. Now we're hearing again talk about mushroom clouds. It's up to Congress and the military to make it clear that the president does not assume monarchical power over questions of war and peace.

Congress and the American people - who should make the decision about war and peace - haven't even heard the forceful arguments of military officials against military strikes. Calling those Pentagon officials to testify - and protecting them against administration reprisals - would be a good place to start.

Gardiner, who specializes in war games and conducted one for The Atlantic Monthly magazine that simulated a US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, concluded, "It's a path that leads to disaster in many directions." Unless preceded by a United Nations endorsement or an imminent Iranian attack, it's also aggression, a war crime under international law and the UN Charter. If Bush or his subordinates have already ordered military operations in Iran, it should be considered a criminal act, Gardiner said.

The DeFazio resolution could provide a rallying point for a coalition to act preemptively to put checks and balances on the Bush administration's usurpation of constitutional powers. Indeed, the growing evidence that the United States is already conducting military operations in Iran demonstrates the urgency of placing limits on executive power.

Anyone in the United States who wants to avoid national catastrophe should get busy defending it. Otherwise, Bush's legacy may be: "He bombed Iran, and the collateral damage wiped out the constitution."

Legal analyst Brendan Smith and historian Jeremy Brecher are the editors, with Jill Cutler, of In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond (Metropolitan/Holt, 2005) (www.americanempireproject.com), and the founders of www.warcrimeswatch.org

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Old Thursday, April 27, 2006
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Post A War on Iran is a War on America

by Jonathan David Morris
Should I consider it weird how none of my friends have ever joined the army?
In and of itself, I suppose this feat is nothing exceptional. I know lots of people who’ve never done lots of things. Like racecar driving or becoming an astronaut.
After September 11th, however, lots of my friends talked about enlisting like they were all but a shaved head and a new pair of boots away from doing it. Yet, to date, none of them ever did.
There are a number of reasons why this might have happened. For example, my friends could all be liars. But I don’t necessarily think that’s the case here. The way I figure, it’s only natural for young men to consider enlisting after such a massive attack on their homeland. So when my friends all swore they were going to enlist after 9/11, I think they meant it. They were ready to sign up and defend their country.
The problem was, it soon became clear the war on terror would take place in other countries.
This changed everything.
Suddenly it was a lot more appealing to root for the troops from the comfort of your couch.
I think this example proves an important point. And it’s not that I hang out with a bunch of loud-mouthed cowards. It’s that, generally speaking, people don’t like to be invaded. This probably sounds like a simple statement, but with the possible exception of the French—who have strange fetishes—I’ve got to believe it’s a universal truth.
When Americans went to bed on September 11th, a lot of us thought a full-scale invasion of our country had started. At that point, no debate about going to war was needed, because we believed the enemy was marching down our streets. Americans would’ve fought back against an invading army. I don’t have any doubts about that. My friends’ idle talk about joining the military only summed up the national sentiment back then. If there was going to be an invasion, it was going to be over our dead red, white, and blue bodies.
To some extent or another, this is probably the only foreign policy any country really needs.
There’s a reason why wars on foreign soil—particularly preemptive wars on foreign soil—rarely enjoy this sort of clarity. It’s because, without the enemy knocking down your door, it’s hard to know if a war on foreign soil is even necessary to begin with.
For that reason, for every military action abroad, there is usually an equal and opposite reaction back home. When Washington believes it must invade or attack a foreign country, it becomes necessary to convince the American people the mission is urgent or just. The upshot to this is that we live in a country where the government cares enough about our opinions to at least pretend like it cares about our opinions. The downside, however, is that wars are government programs. And like all government programs, they’re usually based on hasty decisions, false logic, and outright lies.
The Iraq War is a perfect example, though it’s far from the only one in American history. Three and a half years ago, many Americans genuinely believed U.S. cities were threatened by Iraqi WMDs. Now, though, we realize the Bush administration didn’t even necessarily believe that itself. The Downing Street Memos, amongst other documents, confirm the intelligence was “fixed around the policy.”
We don’t need to waste our time re-arguing the motives of the Iraq War. But even if we were to say, for the sake of argument, that the war happened for entirely noble purposes, the point that our leaders kind of, sort of misled us into it remains the same. You can choose to deny this if you wish (if you’re that incredibly stubborn and/or afraid of admitting you were wrong). But considering how wars—even just wars—have massive consequences, it would be a lot more helpful to look at the lessons of Iraq and… well, learn them.
In the coming months, it seems likely that our country will debate using some kind of force against Iran. According to the New Yorker, the U.S. is considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons on Iranian nuclear facilities. Whether Washington decides to use tactical nukes—which is to say, decides to use nukes—remains to be seen at this point. But just the fact that we’re having this discussion says volumes for the likelihood of it happening. After all, if my friends’ reactions to 9/11 prove anything, it’s that the truly urgent, necessary wars don’t usually need to be debated. They’re obvious, because they place enemy soldiers on your front lawn.
All other wars are essentially optional.
Last weekend, I was talking to someone about rising gas prices when they happened to tell me, “Yeah, it’s just a shame we have to go to war with Iran.” I thought this was interesting. Since when do we “have to” do anything? The U.S. once staved off nuclear war with the Soviet Union. You mean to tell me we can’t do that again? “This is different,” I was told. “These people”—the Iranians—“can’t be reasoned with.” If that’s our attitude, then I’m not so sure we can be reasoned with, either.
Don’t buy the hype. A war with Iran is most certainly not inevitable. Nor is it a good idea. Beyond the costs in lives and treasure (and the generally disconcerting precedent that using tactical nukes would set), a war in Iran would assuredly feature domestic components. So far in the war on terror, we’ve seen widespread domestic spying programs, the inclusion of anti-war groups on Pentagon watch lists, so-called “free speech zones,” and an ever widening gap between politicians and the American people—physically, as well as in terms of accountability. We’ve seen the selective use of intelligence to create threats that didn’t exist. We’ve seen leaking to smear war opponents, and we’ve seen investigations into leakers who managed to smear the war. What kind of fun stuff will the next major theater bring?
Washington’s tactics in the war on terror serve to silence dissent and create artificial support at least as much, if not more so, than they serve to actually fight the war in the first place. This has been so in the war on terror in general, and it’s been so in the unnecessary Iraq War. It will be so yet again if we attack Iran in any capacity. So don’t buy into it. Don’t be swindled. And don’t believe a war in Iran is anything less than a war on the American people.
Sadly, in a real way, that’s exactly what it is.
Jonathan David Morris is a political writer -- and sometimes satirist -- based in Pennsylvania. A strong believer in small government, JDM often takes aim at oppressive taxes, entitlements, and laws, writing about incompetence at the highest levels of culture and government. Catch his weekly ramblings at readjdm.com.

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Post Iran, is the new U.S. target in the Mid-East

Iran, is the new U.S. target in the Mid-East and all signs point to an eventual attack on Iran by the U.S. or Israel military. A U.S.-Iran war or, more likely a limited U.S. attack on Iran will likely occur after the Iraq insurgency ends although a U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear facilities may occur in 2006.

A full scale Israel - Iran war is not likely but an Israel attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is possible.

The possibility of a U.S. or Israel attack on Iran and whether such an attack would be successful is discussed in this web page. My reasons for believing a U.S. or Israel war with Iran is not advisable are also discussed.

Iran: Pros & Cons for U.S. or Israel attack on Iran and What the Targets in Iran Would Be.

There is rightful concern in the U.S., Israel, and other countries about Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability. An attack on Iran to remove the nuclear threat might be justified in some people's opinions. The problem is: What and where to attack in Iran? When Israel took out the Iraq nuclear facilities a few decades ago, there were far fewer facilities and Israel knew precisely where they were. From what I read, this is not the case with Iran and its nuclear facilities.

Iran Nuclear Facilities Much Larger than Iraq's. Iran apparently has a much larger nuclear program going than Iraq ever did and the facilities are scattered in a larger country. It would take many air strikes to wipe out all of Iran's nuclear equipment. Despite all their veiled threats in the matter, Israel does not have the capability to locate, attack, and destroy the Iranian facilities. Destroying the Iran facilities with air strikes would be a big job for even the much larger U.S. air force to carry out.

So you say, the U.S. should simply invade Iran, take over the country, locate the nuclear facilities, destroy them, and then get the hell out of Iran before an insurgency develops.

The above scenario sounds easy on paper but there are some negatives:
• A full-scale U.S.-Iran war will require a major military effort on the part of the U.S. But our finest soldiers are still tied down in Iraq. Better wait until we declare victory there.
• U.S. casualties would be high in a full-scale war with Iran. How long would the American people stand for that?
• Iran has the missile capability to stop all oil shipments from leaving the Persian Gulf. That action would quickly set off a world economic panic.
• After the Iraq debacle, a U.S. war with Iran would be treated around the world with protest - even though Iran's nuclear facilities are much more of a danger to the world than Iraq's facilities ever were.
• Other Moslem nations, e.g., Syria, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt, etc., might be pulled inadvertently into a U.S.- Iran war. Also, Turkey might use the diversion of a U.S. - Iran war to move into northern Iraq and take action against the Kurds whom they have problems with (not to mention the nice oil fields in northern Iraq).

There are a few positives to a U.S. attack on Iran.
1. A successful attack would end Iran's theoretical nuclear threat.
2. An attack on Iran this summer or early fall might benefit the Bush administration's deteriorated political situation just in time for the midterm elections. The American people would no-doubt rally around the flag if a war breaks out. (O.K., my cynicism about the Bush administration is showing through.)
3. If a decision were made to occupy Iran, a vast treasure trove of oil, natural gas, copper, and other raw materials could fall into U.S. hands if we decide to stay there. Of course, I'm sure our leaders thought similarly about Iraq before attacking them (remember "we will be greeted with flowers and candy"). It didn't work out in Iraq and it might not work out in Iran, either.
How Iran Will Respond to a U.S. or Israel Attack

If the U.S. launches an invasion of Iran, a full-scale U.S.-Iran war will break out. Casualties on both sides will be heavy. The same scenario holds if Israel attacks Iran even if the attack is limited. In Israel's case, Iran will bombard Israel with missiles. In the event of a full-scale U.S. attack or even a limited Israel attack, Iran will use their missiles and air force to stop oil shipments from the Persian Gulf.

On the other hand, an limited air attack by the U.S. on the nuclear facilities would be more satisfactory by both sides. Iran would certainly resist the U.S. attack and try to shoot down U.S. planes entering Iran's air space. However, a limited U.S. attack is unlikely to set off a major war with Iran. But, as discussed previously, the air attacks are unlikely to completely remove the Iran nuclear facilities which are spread over Iran.

Casualties on both sides should be low in the event of a limited air attack on Iran. That looks like a winner to me. So, expect some sort of limited air attack on Iran by the U.S. late this summer or early fall. If the attack does not occur prior to the November midterm elections, all my predictions in this matter are cancelled.

I anticipate no attack on Iran from Israel, acting alone, under any circumstances. Israel would be dreaming to think they could handle Iran in a non-nuclear clash without U.S. military aid.

Why Iran is suspicious of U.S. and Israel Intentions.

Iran's leaders do not like Israel and have stated that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth. If Iran ever gets nuclear weapons, the weapons will be pointed at Israel although I don't believe that Iran would use the weapons even if a shooting war broke out between Israel and Iran. The Iran leaders may talk a little crazy at times but they are not stupid. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and would use them if they had to.

Iran is also very wary of the U.S. After all, it was the U.S. (with British support) that instigated the overthrow of the Iran government in 1953 to protect U.S. and British oil interests. The U.S. and British put Shah Mohammad Reza Pablavi in charge of Iran. In 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeni threw the Pavlavi government out of the country and took over. The takeover of the American embassy in Tehran occurred at this time.

No, things have not gone well between the U.S. and Iran! And not all the problems have been instigated by Iran.

Resources and Military Capabilities of Iran.

Iran or Persia, as Iran was formerly known as, has a historical past that was over a thousand years old when the U.S. was born. The Iranians are a proud people and there is ever indication that an attempt is being made to resurrect the old Persian empire that fought Alexander the Great. With oil revenues pouring in and vast deposits of natural gas, copper and other materials soon to be developed, and with a substantial part of Iraq likely to fall under Iran's control, the Persian empire is on its way back.

Iran knows they are on the way up and are cocky and have been thumbing their nose at the Americans who have gotten bogged down in the much smaller and weaker country of Iraq.

Iran is twice the size of Texas with a population of 70,000,000. Their GDP is high for a developing nation. With the abundance of natural resources discussed above, Iran has an excellent chance of moving up quickly into the ranks of developed nations. Then, Iran can assume a true world leadership role for Muslim nations.

Not exactly what the Bush administration had in mind for Iran!

Defense-wise, Iran has over 1,700,000 men in their active military. This is an impressive number but remember Saddam's 'million man army'? How many of Iran's soldiers are adequately trained and equipped to fight effectively is a question mark. (Note: We should not assume that Iran's troops are of the same poor caliber as the bulk of Saddam's army was. Saddam didn't believe in squandering too much money on his troops. He kept the money for himself.)

Iran has more of an air force than Iraq did but the air force has not recovered from the ravages of the Ayatollah Khomeni who virtually destroyed the once-proud air force (trained and equipped by the U.S.) with his purges. Khomeni took irrational actions against the entire Iranian military just before Iraq attacked Iran in 1980.

In the Iran-Iraq war, despite the poor condition of the purged Iran military and despite the tens of billions of dollars of aid poured into Iraq by the U.S. and the Arabian oil-rich kingdoms, Iran was able to eke out a draw in the conflict.

A substantial, home-grown missile fleet is probably the best single weapon that Iran now has. In a U.S.-Iran war or Israel-Iran clash, Iran should be able to totally stop oil shipments from leaving the Persian Gulf. A world energy crisis would soon develop.

No, I don't see an easy answer for the developing U.S. - Iran crisis.


Summary of Iran, U.S.-Iran, and Iraq-Iran.

The war rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran is ramping up and some U.S. military action against Iran is possible in late summer or fall of 2006. Hopefully, the fighting between the two countries will be limited and a full-scale U.S. - Iran war can be avoided.

plz pray,
Sardarzada
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Old Thursday, April 27, 2006
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Post Pentagon has been prepping for war on Iran since 2003 (William Arkin, WP)

Written by Donna Quexada
William M. Arkin, author of Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operations in the 9/11 World, wrote in the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post that at least since early 2003 the U.S. military has been planning for an attack on Iran.[1] -- That was when it undertook an "analysis, called TIRANNT, for 'theater Iran near term,' [which] was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass destruction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for 'major combat operations' against Iran that military sources confirm now exists in draft form." -- " Under TIRANNT," Arkin wrote, "Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change." -- William Arkin is not an anti-war writer: he endorses the belief that Iran is engaged in the "illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons," approves planning for aggressive war, and accepts that the "United States is now a first-strike nation"; Arkin thinks such plans out to be acknowledged publicly as a way of influencing Iranian leaders. -- According to Arkin, " Iran controls the two basic triggers that could set off U.S. military action. The first would be its acquisition of nuclear capability in defiance of the international community. . . . The second trigger would be Iran's lashing out militarily (or through proxy terrorism) at the United States or its allies, or closing the Strait of Hormuz to international oil traffic." -- In his Apr. 13 blog entry to which Arkin's article refers, he wrote that at the Pentagon there has been a shift of "the bulk of planning from almost exclusive focus on Iraq to Iran."[2] -- Unmentioned in his Apr. 16 piece but described in his Apr. 13 blog is the "Toy Study," which stands for TIRANNT Out-Year, positing a U.S.-Iran war in the year 2011. -- "Under the TOY modeling effort, Army division-sized formations as currently organized are sent up against real world models of Iranian ground units. . . . The product gauges not only the impact of military 'transformation' efforts in the Army but also the most propitious timing for war." -- There is also a "2015 timeframe" "extremely complex Caspian Sea scenario [that] has become the standard non-Asian platform for education, training, and force development in the Army," Arkin said....
1.
Going Nuclear
THE PENTAGON PREPS FOR IRAN
By William M. Arkin
Washington Post
April 16, 2006
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...041401907.html
Does the United States have a war plan for stopping Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons?
Last week, President Bush dismissed news reports that his administration has been working on contingency plans for war -- particularly talk of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons against Tehran -- as "wild speculation." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld chimed in, calling it "fantasyland." He declared to reporters that "it just isn't useful" to talk about contingency planning.
But the secretary is wrong.
It's important to talk about war planning that's real. And it is for Iran. In early 2003, even as U.S. forces were on the brink of war with Iraq, the Army had already begun conducting an analysis for a full-scale war with Iran. The analysis, called TIRANNT, for "theater Iran near term," was coupled with a mock scenario for a Marine Corps invasion and a simulation of the Iranian missile force. U.S. and British planners conducted a Caspian Sea war game around the same time. And Bush directed the U.S. Strategic Command to draw up a global strike war plan for an attack against Iranian weapons of mass de struction. All of this will ultimately feed into a new war plan for "major combat operations" against Iran that military sources confirm now exists in draft form.
None of this activity has been disclosed by the U.S. military, and when I wrote about Iran contingency planning last week on the Washington Post web site [see #2 below], the Pentagon stuck to its dogged position that "we don't discuss war plans." But it should.
The diplomatic effort directed at Iran would be mightily enhanced if that country understood that the United States is so serious about deterring the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons that it would be willing to go to war to stop that quest from reaching fruition.
Iran needs to know -- and even more important, the American public needs to know -- that no matter how many experts talk about difficult-to-find targets or the catastrophe that could unfold if war comes, military planners are already working hard to minimize the risks of any military operation. This is the very essence of contingency planning.
I've been tracking U.S. war planning, maintaining friends and contacts in that closed world, for more than 20 years. My one regret in writing about this secret subject, especially because the government always claims that revealing anything could harm U.S. forces, is not delving deeply enough into the details of the war plan for Iraq. Now, with Iran, it's once again difficult but essential to piece together the facts.
Here's what we know now. Under TIRANNT, Army and U.S. Central Command planners have been examining both near-term and out-year scenarios for war with Iran, including all aspects of a major combat operation, from mobilization and deployment of forces through postwar stability operations after regime change.
The core TIRANNT effort began in May 2003, when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data needed for theater-level (meaning large-scale) scenario analysis for Iran. TIRANNT has since been updated using post-Iraq war information on the performance of U.S. forces. Meanwhile, Air Force planners have modeled attacks against existing Iranian air defenses and targets, while Navy planners have evaluated coastal defenses and drawn up scenarios for keeping control of the Strait of Hormuz at the base of the Persian Gulf.
A follow-on TIRANNT Campaign Analysis, which began in October 2003, calculated the results of different scenarios for action against Iran to provide options for analyzing courses of action in an updated Iran war plan. According to military sources close to the planning process, this task was given to Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, now commander of CENTCOM, in 2002.
The Marines, meanwhile, have not only been involved in CENTCOM's war planning, but have been focused on their own specialty, "forcible entry." In April 2003, the Corps published its "Concept of Operations" for a maneuver against a mock country that explores the possibility of moving forces from ship to shore against a determined enemy without establishing a beachhead first. Though the Marine Corps enemy is described only as a deeply religious revolutionary country named Karona, it is -- with its Revolutionary Guards, WMD, and oil wealth -- unmistakably meant to be Iran.
Various scenarios involving Iran's missile force have also been examined in another study, initiated in 2004 and known as BMD-I (ballistic missile defense -- Iran). In this study, the Center for Army Analysis modeled the performance of U.S. and Iranian weapons systems to determine the number of Iranian missiles expected to leak through a coalition defense.
The day-to-day planning for dealing with Iran's missile force falls to the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha. In June 2004, Rumsfeld alerted the command to be prepared to implement CONPLAN 8022, a global strike plan that includes Iran. CONPLAN 8022 calls for bombers and missiles to be able to act within 12 hours of a presidential order. The new task force, sources have told me, mostly worries that if it were called upon to deliver "prompt" global strikes against certain targets in Iran under some emergency circumstances, the president might have to be told that the only option is a nuclear one.
Contingency planning for a bolt-out-of-the-blue attack, let alone full-fledged war, against Iran may seem incredible right now. But in the secretive world of military commands and war planners, it is an everyday and unfortunate reality. Iran needs to understand that the United States isn't hamstrung by a lack of options. It needs to realize that it can't just stonewall and evade its international obligations, that it can't burrow further underground in hopes that it will "win" merely because war is messy.
On the surface, Iran controls the two basic triggers that could set off U.S. military action. The first would be its acquisition of nuclear capability in defiance of the international community. Despite last week's bluster from Tehran, the country is still years away from a nuclear weapon, let alone a workable one. We may have a global strike war plan oriented toward attacking countries with weapons of mass destruction, but that plan is also focused on North Korea, China, and presumably Russia. The Bush administration is not going to wait for a nuclear attack. The United States is now a first-strike nation.
The second trigger would be Iran's lashing out militarily (or through proxy terrorism) at the United States or its allies, or closing the Strait of Hormuz to international oil traffic. Sources say that CENTCOM and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have developed "flexible deterrent options" in case Iran were to take such actions.
One might ask how these options could have any deterrent effect when the government won't talk about them. This is another reason why Rumsfeld should acknowledge that the United States is preparing war plans for Iran -- and that this is not just routine. It is specifically a response to that country's illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons, its meddling in Iraq and its support for international terrorism.
Iran needs to know that the administration is dead serious. But we all need to know that even absent an Iranian nuke or an Iranian attack of any kind, there is still another catastrophic scenario that could lead to war.
In a world of ready war plans and post-9/11 jitters, there is an ever greater demand for intelligence on the enemy. That means ever greater risks taken in collecting that intelligence. Meanwhile, war plans demand that forces be ready in certain places and on alert, while the potential for WMD necessitates shorter and shorter lead times for strikes against an enemy. So the greater danger now is of an inadvertent conflict, caused by something like the shooting down of a U.S. spy plane, by the capturing of a Special Operations or CIA team, or by nervous U.S. and Iranian forces coming into contact and starting to shoot at one another.
The war planning process is hardly neutral. It has subtle effects. As militaries stage mock attacks, potential adversaries become presumed enemies. Over time, contingency planning transforms yesterday's question marks into today's seeming certainty.
2.
DESPITE DENIALS, U.S. PLANS FOR IRAN WAR
By William M. Arkin
Early Warning
April 13, 2006
http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/earl...ials.html#more
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has been conducting theater campaign analysis for a full scale war with Iran since at least May 2003, responding to Pentagon directions to prepare for potential operations in the "near term."
The campaign analysis, called TIRANNT, for "theater Iran near term," posits an Iraq-like maneuver war between U.S. and Iranian ground forces and incorporates lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In addition to the TIRANNT effort and the Marine Corps Karona invasion scenario I discussed yesterday, the military has also completed an analysis of Iran's missile force (the "BMD-I" study), the Defense Intelligence Agency has updated "threat data" for Iranian forces, and Air Force planners have modeled attacks against "real world" Iranian air defenses and targets to establish new metrics. What is more, the United States and Britain have been conducting war games and contingency planning under a Caspian Sea scenario that could also pave the way for northern operations against Iran.
After new reports of intensified planning for Iran began to circulate over the weekend, the President dismissed the news as "wild speculation."
On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld similarly called media speculation about Iran war planning as "fantasyland."
Asked at a Pentagon new conference whether he had in recent days, weeks or month, asked the Joint Staff or CENTCOM to "update, refine, [or] modify the contingencies for possible military options against Iran," Rumsfeld said: "We have I don't know how many various contingency plans in this department. And the last thing I'm going to do is to start telling you or anyone else in the press or the world at what point we refresh a plan or don't refresh a plan, and why. It just isn't useful."
I beg to differ, Mr. Secretary.
World pressure and American diplomacy would be mightily enhanced if Iran understood that the United States was indeed so serious about it acquiring nuclear weapons it was willing to go to war over it. What is more, the American public needs to know that this is a possibility.
Think the U.S. military isn't serious about war with Iran?
Since at least 2003, in response to a number of directives from Secretary Rumsfeld and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, the military services and Pentagon intelligence agencies have been newly working on a number of "near term" and "near-year" Iranian contingency studies in support of CENTCOM war planning efforts.
These studies, war games, and modeling efforts have been the first step in shifting the bulk of planning from almost exclusive focus on Iraq to Iran. At CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, at Army and Air Force CENTCOM support headquarters in Georgia and South Carolina, and at service analysis and operations research organizations like the Center for Army Analysis at Fort Belvoir (thanks readers for correcting me), a monumental effort has been underway to "build" an Iran country baseline for war planning.
Under the TIRANNT campaign analysis program, Army organizations, together with CENTCOM headquarters planners, have been examining both near term and "out year" scenarios for war with Iran, covering all aspects of a major combat operation from mobilization and deployment of forces through post-war "stability" operations after regime change.
The core TIRANNT effort itself began in May 2003, when modelers and intelligence specialists pulled together the data sets needed for theater level (large scale) scenario analysis in support of updated war plans. Successive iterations of TIRANTT efforts have updated "blue" (United States), "green" (coalition), and "threat" databases with post-Iraq war information.
The follow-on TIRANNT Campaign Analysis (TIRANNT-CA), which began in October 2003, has calculated the results of different campaign scenarios against Iran to provide options for "courses of action" analysis. According to military sources close to the planning process, in 2002-2003, the CENTCOM commander, Gen. John Abizaid was directed to develop a new "strategic concept" for Iran war planning and potential courses of action for Secretary of Defense and Presidential review.
Parallel with the TIRANNT and TIRANNT-CA analysis, Army and CENTCOM planners have also been undertaking the "TOY study." TOY stands for TIRANNT Out-Year, and posits a U.S.-Iran war in the year 2011. Under the TOY modeling effort, Army division-sized formations as currently organized are sent up against real world models of Iranian ground units. The results are compared to the same engagements when fought by newly reorganized Army brigade combat teams who fight independent of a strict divisional hierarchy. The product gauges not only the impact of military "transformation" efforts in the Army but also the most propitious timing for war.
Under a separate "BMD-I study," for ballistic missile defense -- Iran, the Army Concepts Analysis Agency has modeled the performance of U.S. and Iranian weapon systems to determine the number of missiles expected to "leak through" a coalition missile defense in the 2005 (current) time frame. The BMD-I study has not only looked at U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missile performance and optimum placement to protect U.S. and coalition forces, but also the results of combined air, cyber warfare and missile defense operations to disable Iranian command and control capabilities and missiles on the ground before Iran can fire them.
In July 2004, U.S. and British Army planners also met at Fort Belvoir to play the Hotspur 2004 war game, a 2015 timeframe Caspian Sea scenario examining deployment of forces, movement to "contact" with the enemy, and "decisive" operations. A U.K. medium weight brigade operated subordinate to U.S. forces and the game included an assessment of lessons learned in U.S.-British interoperability during similar operations in southern Iraq.
The extremely complex Caspian Sea scenario has become the standard non-Asian platform for education, training, and force development in the Army. The current 2005 "high resolution" version model provides analysts with the ability to manipulate thousands of entities using tens of thousands of combat orders to simulate all aspects of major combat operations. The scenario not only has variable "physical battlespace" including urban terrain, but an adaptive enemy, allowing analysis of not just standard military operations but also complex counter-insurgency activity.
In February 2005, after a similar flurry of news reporting on U.S. military options for Iran, the Deputy Commander of CENTCOM Lt. Gen. Lance Smith was asked at a Pentagon briefing if the Tampa based command was in any kind of heightened state of planning when it comes to Iran.
"We plan everything," Smith responded. "We have a requirement on a regular basis to update plans. We try to keep them current, particularly if -- you know, if our region is active. But I haven't been called into any late-night meetings at, you know, 80 at night, saying, 'Holy cow, we got to sit down and go plan for Iran.'"
Throughout mid-2002, when a similar public debate about an Iraq war plan swirled in the news, Secretary Rumsfeld, Myers, and then CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks insisted that there were no "war plans," that they hadn't been asked to prepare a war plan, that no decisions had been made, that no war plan sat on the President's desk.
It would take a doctoral dissertation to wade through the chronology of statements and actions to sort out the specifics of the truth, but here is the reality: Iraq war planning consumed the government inner circle all through this period and the government made a knee jerk decision -- never really thoughtfully reviewed -- not to speak about it. "We don't discuss war plans," the mantra goes. And it is dead wrong.
Maybe history will show that the Bush administration was so hell-bent on war in 2002-2003, nothing that Saddam Hussein could have done would have prevented it. Still, the world went through the motions of U.N. inspections and the Security Council and the U.S. Congress made decisions based upon the illusion that war could still be averted, that all diplomatic options would be exhausted before the decision to go to war was made.
We now also know that the Iraqis themselves didn't quite believe that the United States was serious about regime change and that it would go all the way. Perhaps, though, had the United States candidly stated its intentions rather than spending so much time denying reality, Baghdad would have gotten the message and war would have been averted, perhaps in another time and place.
It seems today we face a similar problem with Iran. The President of the United States insists that all options are on the table while the Secretary of Defense insists it "isn't useful" to discuss American options.
I think this sends the wrong message to Tehran. Contingency planning for a full-fledged war with Iran may seem incredible right now, and Iran isn't Iraq. But Iran needs to understand that the United States isn't hamstrung by a lack of options, Iran needs to know that it can't just stonewall and evade international inspections, that it can't burrow further underground in hopes of "winning" because war is messy.
As I've said before in these pages, I don't believe that the United States is planning to imminently attack Iran, and I specifically don't think so because Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons and it hasn't lashed out militarily against anyone.
But the United States military is really, really getting ready, building war plans and options, studying maps, shifting its thinking.
It is not in our interests to have Tehran not understand this. The military options currently on the table might not be good ones, but Iran shouldn't make decisions based upon a false view. Two so-called "experts" are quoted in the Washington Post today saying that there are no options, that there is no Plan B, that the United States will just live with Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. They are fundamentally wrong about the options, and misunderstand the Bush administration as well.
But most important, this constant drum beat in the newspapers and the media sends the wrong message to Iran. This is why Secretary Rumsfeld should be saying that the U.S. is preparing war plans for Iran, and that the United States views the situation so seriously that it would be willing to risk war if Iran acquired nuclear weapons or lashed out against the U.S. or its friends. The war planning moreover, Rumsfeld needs to add, is not just routine, it is not just what military's do all the time. It is specifically related to Iran, to its illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons, to its meddling in Iraq and support for international terrorism.
Iran needs to know the facts and the American public need to know the facts. But most important, the American public needs to hear the facts about American war plans, military options, and preparedness from the government so that they can understand where we are and decide whether they think the threat from Iran justifies the risks of another war.


plz pray,
Sardarzada
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Old Friday, April 28, 2006
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Post Oil, Geopolitics, and the Coming War with Iran

by Michael T. Klare


As the United States gears up for an attack on Iran, one thing is certain: the Bush administration will never mention oil as a reason for going to war. As in the case of Iraq, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will be cited as the principal justification for an American assault. "We will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon [by Iran]," is the way President Bush put it in a much-quoted 2003 statement. But just as the failure to discover illicit weapons in Iraq undermined the administration's use of WMD as the paramount reason for its invasion, so its claim that an attack on Iran would be justified because of its alleged nuclear potential should invite widespread skepticism. More important, any serious assessment of Iran's strategic importance to the United States should focus on its role in the global energy equation.
Before proceeding further, let me state for the record that I do not claim oil is the sole driving force behind the Bush administration's apparent determination to destroy Iranian military capabilities. No doubt there are many national security professionals in Washington who are truly worried about Iran's nuclear program, just as there were many professionals who were genuinely worried about Iraqi weapons capabilities. I respect this. But no war is ever prompted by one factor alone, and it is evident from the public record that many considerations, including oil, played a role in the administration's decision to invade Iraq. Likewise, it is reasonable to assume that many factors -- again including oil -- are playing a role in the decision-making now underway over a possible assault on Iran.
Just exactly how much weight the oil factor carries in the administration's decision-making is not something that we can determine with absolute assurance at this time, but given the importance energy has played in the careers and thinking of various high officials of this administration, and given Iran's immense resources, it would be ludicrous not to take the oil factor into account -- and yet you can rest assured that, as relations with Iran worsen, American media reports and analysis of the situation will generally steer a course well clear of the subject (as they did in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq).
One further caveat: When talking about oil's importance in American strategic thinking about Iran, it is important to go beyond the obvious question of Iran's potential role in satisfying our country's future energy requirements. Because Iran occupies a strategic location on the north side of the Persian Gulf, it is in a position to threaten oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, which together possess more than half of the world's known oil reserves. Iran also sits athwart the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which, daily, 40% of the world's oil exports pass. In addition, Iran is becoming a major supplier of oil and natural gas to China, India, and Japan, thereby giving Tehran additional clout in world affairs. It is these geopolitical dimensions of energy, as much as Iran's potential to export significant quantities of oil to the United States, that undoubtedly govern the administration's strategic calculations.
Having said this, let me proceed to an assessment of Iran's future energy potential. According to the most recent tally by Oil and Gas Journal, Iran houses the second-largest pool of untapped petroleum in the world, an estimated 125.8 billion barrels. Only Saudi Arabia, with an estimated 260 billion barrels, possesses more; Iraq, the third in line, has an estimated 115 billion barrels. With this much oil -- about one-tenth of the world's estimated total supply -- Iran is certain to play a key role in the global energy equation, no matter what else occurs.
It is not, however, just sheer quantity that matters in Iran's case; no less important is its future productive capacity. Although Saudi Arabia possesses larger reserves, it is now producing oil at close to its maximum sustainable rate (about 10 million barrels per day). It will probably be unable to raise its output significantly over the next 20 years while global demand, pushed by significantly higher consumption in the United States, China, and India, is expected to rise by 50%. Iran, on the other hand, has considerable growth potential: it is now producing about 4 million barrels per day, but is thought to be capable of boosting its output by another 3 million barrels or so. Few, if any, other countries possess this potential, so Iran's importance as a producer, already significant, is bound to grow in the years ahead.
And it is not just oil that Iran possesses in great abundance, but also natural gas. According to Oil and Gas Journal, Iran has an estimated 940 trillion cubic feet of gas, or approximately 16% of total world reserves. (Only Russia, with 1,680 trillion cubic feet, has a larger supply.) As it takes approximately 6,000 cubic feet of gas to equal the energy content of 1 barrel of oil, Iran's gas reserves represent the equivalent of about 155 billion barrels of oil. This, in turn, means that its combined hydrocarbon reserves are the equivalent of some 280 billion barrels of oil, just slightly behind Saudi Arabia's combined supply. At present, Iran is producing only a small share of its gas reserves, about 2.7 trillion cubic feet per year. This means that Iran is one of the few countries capable of supplying much larger amounts of natural gas in the future.
What all this means is that Iran will play a critical role in the world's future energy equation. This is especially true because the global demand for natural gas is growing faster than that for any other source of energy, including oil. While the world currently consumes more oil than gas, the supply of petroleum is expected to contract in the not-too-distant future as global production approaches its peak sustainable level -- perhaps as soon as 2010 -- and then begins a gradual but irreversible decline. The production of natural gas, on the other hand, is not likely to peak until several decades from now, and so is expected to take up much of the slack when oil supplies become less abundant. Natural gas is also considered a more attractive fuel than oil in many applications, especially because when consumed it releases less carbon dioxide (a major contributor to the greenhouse effect).
No doubt the major U.S. energy companies would love to be working with Iran today in developing these vast oil and gas supplies. At present, however, they are prohibited from doing so by Executive Order (EO) 12959, signed by President Clinton in 1995 and renewed by President Bush in March 2004. The United States has also threatened to punish foreign firms that do business in Iran (under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996), but this has not deterred many large companies from seeking access to Iran's reserves. China, which will need vast amounts of additional oil and gas to fuel its red-hot economy, is paying particular attention to Iran. According to the Department of Energy (DoE), Iran supplied 14% of China's oil imports in 2003, and is expected to provide an even larger share in the future. China is also expected to rely on Iran for a large share of its liquid natural gas (LNG) imports. In October 2004, Iran signed a $100 billion, 25-year contract with Sinopec, a major Chinese energy firm, for joint development of one of its major gas fields and the subsequent delivery of LNG to China. If this deal is fully consummated, it will constitute one of China's biggest overseas investments and represent a major strategic linkage between the two countries.
India is also keen to obtain oil and gas from Iran. In January, the Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL) signed a 30-year deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Corp. for the transfer of as much as 7.5 million tons of LNG to India per year. The deal, worth an estimated $50 billion, will also entail Indian involvement in the development of Iranian gas fields. Even more noteworthy, Indian and Pakistani officials are discussing the construction of a $3 billion natural gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan an extraordinary step for two long-term adversaries. If completed, the pipeline would provide both countries with a substantial supply of gas and allow Pakistan to reap $200-$500 million per year in transit fees. "The gas pipeline is a win-win proposition for Iran, India, and Pakistan," Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz declared in January.
Despite the pipeline's obvious attractiveness as an incentive for reconciliation between India and Pakistan -- nuclear powers that have fought three wars over Kashmir since 1947 and remain deadlocked over the future status of that troubled territory -- the project was condemned by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a recent trip to India. "We have communicated to the Indian government our concerns about the gas pipeline cooperation between Iran and India," she said on March 16 after meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh in New Delhi. The administration has, in fact, proved unwilling to back any project that offers an economic benefit to Iran. This has not, however, deterred India from proceeding with the pipeline.
Japan has also broken ranks with Washington on the issue of energy ties with Iran. In early 2003, a consortium of three Japanese companies acquired a 20% stake in the development of the Soroush-Nowruz offshore field in the Persian Gulf, a reservoir thought to hold 1 billion barrels of oil. One year later, the Iranian Offshore Oil Company awarded a $1.26 billion contract to Japan's JGC Corporation for the recovery of natural gas and natural gas liquids from Soroush-Nowruz and other offshore fields.
When considering Iran's role in the global energy equation, therefore, Bush administration officials have two key strategic aims: a desire to open up Iranian oil and gas fields to exploitation by American firms, and concern over Iran's growing ties to America's competitors in the global energy market. Under U.S. law, the first of these aims can only be achieved after the President lifts EO 12959, and this is not likely to occur as long as Iran is controlled by anti-American mullahs and refuses to abandon its uranium enrichment activities with potential bomb-making applications. Likewise, the ban on U.S. involvement in Iranian energy production and export gives Tehran no choice but to pursue ties with other consuming nations. From the Bush administration's point of view, there is only one obvious and immediate way to alter this unappetizing landscape -- by inducing "regime change" in Iran and replacing the existing leadership with one far friendlier to U.S. strategic interests.
That the Bush administration seeks to foster regime change in Iran is not in any doubt. The very fact that Iran was included with Saddam's Iraq and Kim Jong Il's North Korea in the "Axis of Evil" in the President's 2002 State of the Union Address was an unmistakable indicator of this. Bush let his feelings be known again in June 2003, at a time when there were anti-government protests by students in Tehran. "This is the beginning of people expressing themselves toward a free Iran, which I think is positive," he declared. In a more significant indication of White House attitudes on the subject, the Department of Defense has failed to fully disarm the People's Mujaheddin of Iran (or Mujaheddin-e Khalq, MEK), an anti-government militia now based in Iraq that has conducted terrorist actions in Iran and is listed on the State Department's roster of terrorist organizations. In 2003, the Washington Post reported that some senior administration figures would like to use the MEK as a proxy force in Iran, in the same manner that the Northern Alliance was employed against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Iranian leadership is well aware that it faces a serious threat from the Bush administration and is no doubt taking whatever steps it can to prevent such an attack. Here, too, oil is a major factor in both Tehran's and Washington's calculations. To deter a possible American assault, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and otherwise obstruct oil shipping in the Persian Gulf area. "An attack on Iran will be tantamount to endangering Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and, in a word, the entire Middle East oil," Iranian Expediency Council secretary Mohsen Rezai said on March 1st.
Such threats are taken very seriously by the U.S. Department of Defense. "We judge Iran can briefly close the Strait of Hormuz, relying on a layered strategy using predominantly naval, air, and some ground forces," Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 16th.
Planning for such attacks is, beyond doubt, a major priority for top Pentagon officials. In January, veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker magazine that the Department of Defense was conducting covert reconnaissance raids into Iran, supposedly to identify hidden Iranian nuclear and missile facilities that could be struck in future air and missile attacks. "I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran," Hersh said of his interviews with senior military personnel. Shortly thereafter, the Washington Post revealed that the Pentagon was flying surveillance drones over Iran to verify the location of weapons sites and to test Iranian air defenses. As noted by the Post, "Aerial espionage [of this sort] is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack." There have also been reports of talks between U.S. and Israeli officials about a possible Israeli strike on Iranian weapons facilities, presumably with behind-the-scenes assistance from the United States.
In reality, much of Washington's concern about Iran's pursuit of WMD and ballistic missiles is sparked by fears for the safety of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, other Persian Gulf oil producers, and Israel rather than by fears of a direct Iranian assault on the United States. "Tehran has the only military in the region that can threaten its neighbors and Gulf security," Jacoby declared in his February testimony. "Its expanding ballistic missile inventory presents a potential threat to states in the region." It is this regional threat that American leaders are most determined to eliminate.
In this sense, more than any other, the current planning for an attack on Iran is fundamentally driven by concern over the safety of U.S. energy supplies, as was the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. In the most telling expression of White House motives for going to war against Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney (in an August 2002 address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars) described the threat from Iraq as follows: "Should all [of Hussein's WMD] ambitions be realized, the implications would be enormous for the Middle East and the United States.... Armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror and a seat atop 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, Saddam Hussein could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, [and] directly threaten America's friends throughout the region." This was, of course, unthinkable to Bush's inner circle. And all one need do is substitute the words "Iranian mullahs" for Saddam Hussein, and you have a perfect expression of the Bush administration case for making war on Iran.
So, even while publicly focusing on Iran's weapons of mass destruction, key administration figures are certainly thinking in geopolitical terms about Iran's role in the global energy equation and its capacity to obstruct the global flow of petroleum. As was the case with Iraq, the White House is determined to eliminate this threat once and for all. And so, while oil may not be the administration's sole reason for going to war with Iran, it is an essential factor in the overall strategic calculation that makes war likely.

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Post Iran Plans

Journalist Seymour Hersh argues in this New Yorker article that the Bush administration is secretly preparing to wage war on Iran – with covert operations already taking place inside the country. The US even considers using tactical nuclear weapons, so called “bunker busters,” to reach facilities located deep beneath the surface. Beyond the destruction of Tehran’s nuclear program, Washington seems to be particularly keen on imposing a regime change to oust the Iranian leadership. Some people inside the administration and the Pentagon criticize these plans, believing an attack on Iran would cause grave repercussions in the Middle East and internationally.
Been There, Done That
Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski argues in this Los Angeles Times article that a military attack on Iran would be “damaging to long-term US national interests” and cites reasons why. There is no legal backing for such a unilateral attack. Reactions by Tehran would seriously complicate the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The price of crude would rise dramatically. Finally, the US would become an even more likely target for terrorists. Zbigniew concludes that “a sense of a religiously inspired mission” should not guide the US.
Iran: Don't Do It
This TomDispatch article gives very cogent reasons why attacking Iran would be “insane.” Military airstrikes would only lead to an acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program and a full-blown invasion is just unthinkable, regarding how stretched already the US forces are in Iraq. Iran has so far not violated international law - the Non-Proliferation Treaty - which makes finding a pretext for war hard for Washington. Finally, the often-cited danger that Tehran will launch a nuclear strike on Israel seems highly unrealistic, because it would amount to committing “national suicide.”
Britain Took Part in Mock Iran Invasion
Despite rhetoric by both Washington and London, the two long-standing allies seem to prepare attacking Iran. Two years ago, the US and the UK jointly conducted a war game codenamed “Hotspur 2004.” The planners said the scenario was a fictitious Middle East country called “Korona,” however the border corresponded exactly with Iran's and the characteristics of the enemy were Iranian. This is one article in a recent stream of articles showing how the US and the UK get ready to invade Iran. (Guardian)
To Battle Stations! To Battle Stations!
This Inter Press Service article gives a good overview of the intensified efforts by neo-conservative authors, publications and think-tanks to promote military strikes against Iran. The Project for the New American Century, the American Enterprise Institute, and their affiliated authors such as William Kristol and Michael Ledeen openly call for an invasion of Iran to force a regime change in Tehran.
Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away
Despite Iran’s announcement that it had enriched Uranium to levels that could fuel a nuclear reactor, experts claim it will take Tehran many more years to actually construct an atomic bomb. Nevertheless, various countries, including China and Russia, have criticized Tehran for escalating the tensions that already exist between Iran and the US. Such provocative actions might in fact play into the hands of some members of the Bush administration, who seek confrontation. (New York Times)
An Iranian Missile Crisis?
This Washington Post Op-Ed compares the current confrontation between the US and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear activities with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Washington will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and Tehran believes that only by acquiring nuclear capabilities can it deter a US intervention. The Op-Ed quotes Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski saying that if the US attacks Iran “we will lose our position in the world.”
Government in Secret Talks about Strike Against Iran
The British Government is secretly discussing US-led air strikes against Iran. According to this Telegraph article, some members of the government believe that “an attack [by the US and/or Israel] is now all but inevitable,” if Tehran continues to pursue its enrichment program. Such attacks would have grave repercussions in the whole Middle East and beyond.
"Cabal" Blocked 2003 Nuclear Talks with Iran
This Inter Press Service argues that in 2003 the Bush administration has deliberately avoided negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Tehran sought consultations and even offered to provide the names of the al-Qaeda operatives it had detained. Washington refused this offer, because a “secret cabal of neoconservatives” wanted to push for regime change in Tehran.
Washington Seeks to Bully UN Security Council over Iran
The Security Council is under intense pressure from the US to adopt a statement that will allow aggressive action against Iran. In language that recalls the period before the US invasion of Iraq, US Ambassador John Bolton warned that Washington’s patience was running out and that the “negotiating process was not indefinite.” Bolton also questioned the legitimacy and authority of the world body, declaring that “if the Security Council cannot deal with the greatest threat we have with a country like Iran, you have a real question of what it can deal with.” (World Socialist)
Iran: Where Do We Go From Here?
Why did the US take the case of Iran’s nuclear program to the Security Council if Washington knew that the five veto-holding powers would not reach consensus on sanctions against Tehran? According to this Uruknet article, the Bush administration’s intention was to increase suspicion about Iran’s nuclear program and mobilize public support for a war. The author warns that if the Security Council issues a presidential statement accusing Iran of developing a nuclear weapons program – even though there is “no evidence” of such program according to the IAEA – it will only strengthen Washington’s plans to attack Iran. Instead, the Council should take positive steps to diffuse the crisis, starting by supporting Iran’s rights under the Non Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium under the strict supervision of the IAEA.
US Envoy Hints at Strike to Stop Iran
This Guardian article reports that US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has openly voiced the possibility of a military strike against Iran. Bolton was quoted as having said to British members of Parliament that “you only have to take out one part of their (Iran’s) nuclear operation to take the whole thing down." Most other observers, including the CIA, remain skeptical about a military solution.
US Marines Probe Tensions Among Iran’s Minorities
The US marines’ intelligence wing contracted the Science Applications International Corporation to investigate Iran’s ethnic minorities, says the Financial Times. They studied whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kind of fault lines that are splitting Iraq. This could mean that the US plans to actively destabilize the regime in Tehran.
How Neo-Cons Sabotaged Iran's Help on al Qaeda
The US and Iran were on a course to cooperate in the fight against al Qaeda and its Taliban sponsors in Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002. However, neocon members of the Bush administration disrupted that cooperation, because they wanted to include Iran in the Axis of Evil. This Inter Press Service article draws on sources from the State Department and the National Security Council.
Funding Regime Change
This Asia Times article claims that the Bush Administration’s US$ 75 million plan to undermine the regime in Tehran will only have limited effects. The US has antagonized the target of this initiative – the Iranian civil society – with its aggressive foreign policy. Iranians still remember that the US tried several times before to topple the Iranian leadership with covert operations.
WWIII or Bust: Implications of a US Attack on Iran
This article argues that the US actively seeks confrontation with Iran, using the alleged Iranian nuclear threat as a pretext. The real reasons are economic - the US wants to secure the vast fossil energy reserves. The US also seeks to safeguard the dollar as Iran plans to allow oil trading in euros in March 2006. (Common Dreams)
Rice Seeks $75 Million to Spur Democracy Drive in Iran
On top of US$10million already allocated in Iran for 2006, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested US$75 million extra to expand Washington’s media influence in the country. Allocating these funds to broadcast US radio and TV programs, Rice argues that the media campaign will inspire Iranian citizens to pursue “freedom and democracy.” Although Rice’s request attracted criticism from the Democratic and Republican party, she stated that the US will “actively confront the aggressive policies” of Tehran. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
US Instigated Iran's Nuclear Policy in the '70s
The Bush administration opposes Iran’s nuclear enrichment program even though Washington started Tehran’s nuclear development in the 1970s. After the oil crisis in 1972, Washington pursued investment opportunities in Iran, including selling Tehran nuclear plants and offering a “full nuclear cycle.” This Providence Journal article questions US motives behind a possible military action against Iran 30 years after having developed its nuclear facilities with “great enthusiasm.”
Juggernaut Gathering Momentum, Headed for Iran
This truthout article shows how Washington tries to prepare the US public for a war with Iran by constantly repeating how dangerous the country is. In support for this claim, the US is even manipulating pieces of intelligence or only using the intelligence deemed supportive. In addition, the article exposes how key figures from the Bush administration offered Iran a deal for nuclear facilities in the 1970s, jumpstarting Iran’s nuclear research.
US Tries to Pressure Iran with Attack Stories
This Washington Post article argues that while “all options [against Iran] are on the table,” the Bush administration focuses on covert commando operations to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities. In addition, Washington sends high-level officials from the Central Intelligence Agency to Turkey and arranges “sensational” reports in the Turkish and German press to increase pressure on Tehran. Such leaks about a possible military action against Iran aim at forcing the country to make concessions over its nuclear enrichment program.
And Now Iran
Neoconservative William Kristol argues in this Weekly Standard article that the US should be willing to use military force to “halt the nuclear program of the Iranian regime.” Kristol criticizes European countries for being “generally hesitant and wishful” in dealing with Iran.
Who's Afraid of Big, Bad Iran?
The US is selective when it comes to condemning countries for violating the nuclear non-proliferation policy, Philip Bowring argues in this International Herald Tribune commentary. On the one hand, Washington aligns with nuclear countries such as Israel, Pakistan and India. On the other hand, the US condemns Iran’s resumption of nuclear activities, calling it a grand threat to the Middle East and the world. By bullying Iran, the US may shoot itself in the foot and give Tehran the incentive to develop nuclear technology.
US and Iran: Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?
Journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte argues that Washington is preparing for a military strike against Iran’s suspected nuclear sites early in 2006. Ulfkotte interprets CIA Director Porter Goss’s visit to Turkey as an attempt to win support from Ankara for Washington’s possible attack against Iran. While Washington discusses the use of force to bring Tehran “into line,” critics argue that an attack could instead increase support for Ahmadinejad’s regime in the region. (Spiegel)
A Possible Israel-Iran War
If the Security Council fails to put the Iranian nuclear issue on the agenda by the end of March 2006, Israel, backed by the US, declared it will attack secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran. Israel fears that by April 2006, Iran will have the technical expertise to enrich uranium in sufficient quantities to build a nuclear warhead. (Sunday Times)
Iran and the United States: A Clash of Perceptions
According to this openDemocracy article, Washington has viewed Tehran as the “real problem” in the Middle East since the downfall of the Shah. When Iran insisted on enriching its nuclear program, the Bush administration's view hardened still further. This article argues that following the intervention in Iraq, Washington has established permanent bases in the region to achieve greater control of the Middle East’s energy resources. This move can only lead to an increased tension between Washington and Tehran.
Are We Going to War with Iran?
Is the US threat to go to war with Iran real or is it just a scare tactic to get Iran to halt its nuclear program? Dan Plesch writes in the Guardian that Washington regards Iran as enough of a critical threat to warrant an attack. Indeed, US intelligence considers that while Iran is years from a nuclear weapons capability, “the technological point of no return is now imminent.” US Ambassador John Bolton warned that if the Security Council failed to deal with Iran’s alleged breach of its commitments on nuclear proliferation, “the US would solve the problem on its own.”
Experts Predict US Attack on Iran
Dan Plesch, Scott Ritter and Fred Halliday discuss the possibility of a US military operation against Iran. Focusing on the causes and consequences of a confrontation with Iran, these experts base their arguments on the Iraq experience, the Cold War era, and the history of US-Iran relations. Although the feasibility of military action or overthrow of the regime by Iranians may seem like a “fantasy,” Ritter asserts that “fantasy is reality in the neo-con’s Washington.” (Democrat's Diary)
Iran's Nukes: Jack's Straw Man
During his speech at the UN World Summit 2005, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad defended Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology in accordance with international treaties and regulations. The US and EU officials claimed that the speech was “very aggressive,” “disappointing and unhelpful.” His speech, however, emphasized “the double standards” over nuclear weaponry “that [allow] powerful states to access materials...while denying access to less powerful states.” (spiked)
US Deploys Slide Show to Press Case against Iran
During an August 2005 briefing in Vienna, US officials tried to convince their allies that Iran’s energy program aims at producing nuclear weapons. Although UN inspectors did not find “proof of a weapons program,” Washington wants to increase pressure on the Iranian government, and insists that the UN should impose sanctions against it. This article compares the briefing to the “the flawed presentation on Iraq’s weapons program” in the Security Council, and warns that the Iraq experience is still “fresh in the minds of international decision-makers.” (Washington Post)
Don't Make Hollow Theats
This Newsweek article argues that the Bush administration uses “hollow threats” against Iran to make it stop its nuclear development. US President George Bush stated that “all options are on the table,” in his response to Iran’s decision to resume its nuclear program. However, because Iran has well-hidden and scattered facilities and good economic relations with China and Russia, neither a military intervention nor comprehensive economic sanctions would likely produce a desired outcome for the US. Therefore, these threats, rather than influencing Iran’s nuclear development, help “cheapen [the US] credibility around the world.”
The Iran War Buildup
Michael Klare warns that there are striking similarities between the Bush administration’s activities before the invasion of Iraq, and its current attitude towards Iran. Citing evidence that the Defense Department has begun serious planning for military action against Iran, he urges the US government to halt such moves before it has built up an unstoppable momentum towards war. (The Nation)
Anatomy of a Neocon Smear
The US Neocons attempted to demonize Iran’s new president before he even took office, says TomPaine. From dismissals of the elections as “fixed” to claims that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the 1979 hostage takers at the US embassy, in the face of strong evidence to the contrary, the neocon establishment is trying to portray Iran’s leader as a hard-line fanatic the US cannot negotiate with.
The US War with Iran Has Already Begun
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter compares the process which led to war in Iraq with current US-Iran relations to reach the frightening conclusion that the Bush administration’s policy of forcible regime change is well underway. "From its “liberation/democracy rhetoric” and the conditioning of public opinion, to covert operations and advanced logistical planning, he argues that the US march to war has begun. (al-Jazeera)
Bush and Hawks Try Pre-Emptive Strike Vs. Iran Vote
US President George W. Bush and a group of hard-line US “hawks” tried to discredit the Iranian elections before they took place, “the better to justify some kind of attack leading to regime change,” according to experts interviewed by Inter Press Service. Iran specialists say “some hardliners are trying to fit the facts into their preferred policy.” The hawks’ “orchestrated public-relations campaign” depicting the election as a sham is “simplistic at best, a deliberate distortion at worst.”
Letter from Tehran: In Washington's Cross-Hairs
The US “has not waited for the first ballot to be cast before dismissing Iran’s presidential election as rigged.” Truthout argues that this is “wishful thinking” stemming from the Washington neocons' “delusion that they can overthrow the Iranian regime with plenty of missiles.” In fact, American “bombast” is undermining genuine grassroot democratic change underway in Iran, strengthening the hand of hardliners for whom “a missile strike against Iran would be a godsend.”
Trade Group to Start Talks to Admit Iran
The United States has dropped a long-standing veto, allowing Iran to begin membership negotiations with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US change of heart comes as an apparent reward for Iran’s agreement to halt its nuclear program. The US holds significant clout over WTO decisions, and although politics is not supposed to play a role in issues relating to WTO membership, membership negotiations with Iran are clearly conditional on the status of its nuclear program. (New York Times)
Iran: Tehran Opposes US Pro-Democracy Initiatives
The US has appropriated millions of dollars for Iran’s pro-democracy movement under the Iran Freedom Support Act, which ominously calls for holding the Iranian government accountable and supporting a “transition to democracy.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that the initiatives have fostered “hatred against America” and that Iranian officials object to US meddling. However, the article fails to consider these enterprises as a cover-up for more aggressive US-sponsored regime change.
Cheney’s Other Trick NIE ?
Former CIA officer Ray McGovern refutes the Bush administration’s claims about dangers in Iran, likening the rising threats to the fabricated weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002 and warning that the real US reasons for intervention include “oil, Israel and a strategic presence in the region.” McGovern calls for an “honest” national intelligence estimate on Iran and hopes government officials will not “take the course of least resistance” in arguing about foreign policy. (TomPaine)
US May Aid Iran Activists
In another effort to spur regime change in Iran, the Bush administration may earmark $3 million for Iranian activists. But the administration’s inclination for “more creative solutions” to further “spread freedom” could backfire; several Iranians have harbored strong anti-US sentiments since the CIA-sponsored coup in 1953, and any US-sponsored activity could incite violence. As US-Iranian relations in the past make it clear, the administration “can’t buy political action.” (Los Angeles Times)
Doomed to Fail
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter writes in the Baltimore Sun that the Bush administration must separate nonproliferation policies from those of regime change. Using Iraq as an example, Ritter warns that weapons of mass destruction do not serve as a good excuse for military intervention. Iran and North Korea have begun to develop nuclear weapons because of US aggression, he says, and the world could see a “nuclear apocalypse” if the US does not back down.
Iran Vows to Down US Spy Planes: Blast Near Dam Sparks Panic
Following media and civilian reports of unmanned drones spying on Iran’s nuclear sites, Tehran officials ordered the military not to engage but then authorized shooting down US spy planes. The announcement came after an unrelated explosion stirred tensions that the US was planning an attack, though US officials deny the allegation and instead claim the intelligence searches revolve around suspicions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. (DAWN)
Iran's Choice
The Wall Street Journal has "substantial reservations and doubts about Iran's good faith" with respect to the country's pledge to cease its uranium enrichment program. This article argues that Iran avoided Security Council referral by "negotiating a departure from the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) normal safeguards standards" and warns that this may set a precedent for further IAEA inspections. Conservative criticism aimed at the IAEA echoes US justification to invade Iraq and could serve as propaganda to legitimize US action against Iran.
Military Rumblings on Iran
This New York Times editorial likens the hints of US military intervention in Iran to the build-up of the Iraq war, and warns that the US has neither the troops nor the support to make such a move. Given the potential consequences of Iran gaining nuclear capabilities, the author urges the US government and European diplomats to present a firm line to the Iranian leadership: dismantle the nuclear program or “suffer severe economic penalties.”
The Coming Wars
Seymour Hersh uncovers a covert US military and intelligence campaign directed at Iran. The Pentagon, under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has used the guise of “intelligence reform” to take over some of the CIA’s intelligence gathering and secret operations and place them even further outside of Congressional oversight. Pentagon operations may signal a growing commitment in Washington to topple Iran’s government. (New Yorker)
Cheney Warns of Iran as A Nuclear Threat
Denying Seymour Hersh’s article on covert US military operations in Iran, Vice President Dick Cheney said the Bush administration plans to “pursue diplomacy first” and propose UN Security Council sanctions if diplomacy fails. But Cheney warned that “all options are on the table,” and that Israel “might well decide to act first and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess.” (Washington Post)
Persian Dilemmas
This Slate article debates the uncanny similarities between “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and the current Iran situation, where the US refuses to follow Europe’s advice for a “diplomatic solution.” Instead of a military intervention, it suggests a “serious US strategy of regime change” focusing on constructive bilateral relations with Iran.
There Are Worse Things Than a Nuclear Iran
This International Herald Tribune article challenges the US and EU assumption that they cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran, saying "if the price for a democratic Iran is Tehran's being allowed to develop limited nuclear capabilities, then so be it." The author argues against military action, citing the proven inefficiency of a top-down approach to democracy, and claiming that military strikes would only enrage Islamists and isolate reformists. He also rules out the possibility of sanctions, saying that the world economy needs Iran's oil, and, as with military action, veto-wielding Security Council members would be unlikely to authorize them.
Pentagon Turns Heat Up on Iran
Following suspicions of uranium enrichment in Iran, the US government considers taking military action in the country, warning of “possible strikes on leadership, political and security targets.” (Observer)
Today Iraq, Tomorrow Iran
This article lists 21 mistaken predictions of the US administration in its invasion of Iraq. The author suggests that the US government may consider a “pre-emptive” attack on Iran to “distract the American people from their catastrophic and incompetent record.” (Salon.com)
Shifting the War to Iran
Columnist Charles Krauthammer supports a US war against Iran, but former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski recommends “selective political engagement” with the Iranian regime. This Znet commentary presents their arguments, concluding that Krauthammer and Brzezinski share the long-term goal of US control over the Middle East’s energy reserves. Furthermore, the author suggests that Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard is the blueprint for US foreign policy, and not the Project for a New American Century as many people believe.
Iran in Bush's Sights
The 9/11 commission’s attempt to show links between Iran and al-Qaeda is part of a campaign to justify a US war against Iran, writes Middle East scholar Juan Cole. Arguing that the alleged relationship between Iran’s regime and Sunni militants is extremely unlikely, Cole asks who benefits from these claims and the war that they could help to bring about. (Informed Comment)
Regime Change in Iran Now in Bush's Sights
According to a government official, if US President George W. Bush wins the November election “there will be much more intervention in the internal affairs of Iran.” The US will act to provoke revolts against the current Iranian regime, rather than using overt military action to overthrow it. (Sunday Herald)
The Next War
In “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror,” Washington’s hawks Richard Perle and David Frum present an agenda for how to proceed in the “War on Terror.” The authors propose a US sponsored regime change in Iran, a military blockade of North Korea, and "economic quarantine" for Syria, and state that France should be treated as an “enemy.” (TomPaine)

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Old Friday, April 28, 2006
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Post Mission impossible? US-Iran

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

The US decision to hold a direct dialogue with Tehran over Iraq coupled with a policy of isolating Iran over the nuclear-weapons issue and Washington's often-stated goal of regime change might seem like mission impossible, yet some decision-makers in Washington would argue that under the present circumstances these objectives can in fact be pursued simultaneously.

But no matter what transpires from the dialogue over Iraq, the administration of US President George W Bush faces a problem about

if and how really to pursue the policy of regime change in Iran, which has been formally articulated under the guise of a new US$75 million fund to undermine the rule of the theocrats and promote democracy in Iran that was announced recently by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Many in the US Congress, pushing for a similar result under the rubric of the Iran Freedom Act, argue that by opting to have any kind of dialogue with Iran, the Bush administration might be diverted from what they consider the real mission. Some US lawmakers insist that the US should recognize the exiled opposition group the People's Mujahideen Organization (Mujahideen-e Khalq, or MEK), even though it is deemed a terrorist organization by the Department of State.

For the moment, however, enough concrete signals have been received from Tehran to confirm a positive reaction to the US overtures. These were initially expressed by Rice at a congressional hearing last October, wherein she stated that she had authorized the US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad to meet with his Iranian counterpart. Subsequently, Khalilzad confirmed that both the president and the secretary of state had given him explicit authorization for this purpose.

As of this writing, the date and time of the dialogue have not been finalized and, by all indications, both sides are engaged in an intense pre-talks session, sending mixed feelers toward each other and demonstrating that they have both arrived at a rather awkward moment in which neither party quite knows how to begin.

For instance, no sooner had the Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei given his blessing to the dialogue than a US spokesperson raised questions about "the curious timing" and suggested that Iran's decision was due to the international pressure over the nuclear issue. In turn, through its mission to the United Nations, Iran reacted rather negatively, reminding everyone that Tehran had not initiated the idea of dialogue.

Hence the fate of the dialogue is contingent on the state of the Iraq crisis, or the nuclear crisis, each of which tends to act as a brake on the other. The fact that the Arab world has also raised serious questions about the talks between Iran and the US over their heads cannot be altogether ignored either, even though, objectively speaking, the Arabs should welcome any thaw in the US-Iran relations. It is bound to benefit the cause of peace in the Middle East.

At this stage the most important thing the two parties can do is set the ground rules for a constructive dialogue, one that will be something more than a "dialogue of the deaf" where both sides talk past each other. Dialogue is a style of communication that, to quote the philosopher Martin Buber, encourages "tolerance and civility". There is a huge difference, however, between a genuine two-way engagement on the one hand and a distorted, pseudo-monological dialogue on the other.

Another problem is somehow to insulate the issue of US-Iran dialogue and/or rapprochement from the competitive contingencies of electoral politics in both the US and Iran, which have so far proved yet another brake on the omnibus of such a dialogue.

Lessons from the past
Unfortunately, for the past quarter of a century, US-Iran relations have been predominantly, though by no means exclusively, of a monological nature - the 2001 dialogue on Afghanistan being an exception. Both sides have dwelt mainly on points of disagreement, have subsumed dialogue to their conflicting geostrategic jockeying and have evinced studied indifference to the other side's interests and concerns. In the worst of times, they have wrapped their direct or indirect dialogue in comparative discourses of antagonism and even annihilation.

One of Iran's enduring complaints, most recently aired by Iran's envoy to the UN on the popular television program The Charlie Rose Show, is that all Iran got for its cooperation on the anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 was to be labeled a part of the "axis of evil" in President Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech. There is, in other words, a thick residue of distrust by both sides that would require a tremendous effort to overcome.

Learning from the past can come in handy today, in light of the rather endless series of half-steps stretching back to the hostage crisis of 1979. Ideally, both Washington and Tehran need to express an explicit desire to improve relations with each other, as the very manifestation of such a desire is a powerful antidote to the harsh polemics of the past. Clearly, significant hurdles on the path of rapprochement remain and, as a result, a further deterioration of relations is by no means improbable.

Suggested ground rules
1. Each side must strive for a clear understanding of the other side's interests as well as problems. This is both a precondition and a result of dialogue, and it requires serious homework in advance. Thus, for example, the US must put the recent impressive week-long military exercise in the Persian Gulf in the context of Iran's post-September 2001 security worries, instead of misconstruing them as a sign of militarism or offensive purposes.

2. Each side should have a clear understanding of its own interests and priorities. This implies an eagerness to articulate one's position and a willingness to have it scrutinized. Part of the United States' problem, therefore, is to engage in some strenuous intramural debate about the long-term purpose of its military presence in Iraq: Is it designed mainly as an anti-Iran deterrence force or something else?

As for Iran, there is need for much greater public debate on whether or not the time for normalization of relations with the US has arrived and how this is likely to impact Iran's national interests. With respect to Iraq and its current dangerous descent toward a civil war and the potential for spillover into Iran and other neighboring countries, both sides need to express their determination to halt this unwanted situation in favor of peace and stability in the region.

3. Each side must work to "water down" differences with the other side. This can be achieved by analytically distinguishing between differences, separating those that preclude normalization from those that can be accepted within normal diplomatic relations. Examples of this can be found in the diplomatic history of both countries, such as America's relations with Russia and China and Iran's relations with the other Persian Gulf states. This distinction helps to winnow the list of differences and rank them either as corresponding interests, such as combating terrorism; conflicting interests, such as US unilateralism in the Gulf and parallel interests, such as Gulf stability, Iraq's national unity and the containment of Iraq's civil strife.

There is always the possibility that some of the differences may turn out to be less divisive than hitherto thought, such as the Iranian antipathy to a transitional US-led multinational military presence until the situation in Iraq is stabilized. In light of this possibility, each side must exhibit a genuine willingness to revise its understanding and interpretation of the other side. A chief prerequisite for all this is Washington's understanding that stability is not a one-way phenomenon, and that US power does not by itself necessarily guarantee stability.

As with China, US relations with Iran will most likely be buffeted by various problems for the foreseeable future with or without diplomatic normalization. Yet instead of coercive diplomacy, the US would be well advised to implement the options of conciliation and negotiation.

4. Each side must maintain a constant willingness to engage in sustained, constructive dialogue instead of half-hearted attempts without meaningful follow-ups. To minimize the effects of discontinuity, a preliminary roadmap for dialogue agreed upon by both sides is needed, so that a movement toward improved relations is not stalled by any counter-dialogue momentum it generates. Also, it requires a continuous "positive signaling" that incrementally prepares public opinion in both countries for normalization. A good example is an opinion article by Iran's envoy to the UN, Mohammad Javad Zarif, reiterating Iran's anti-nuclear-weapons stance that was published simultaneously in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.

5. Both sides must strive to engage in dialogue in good faith. This means avoiding public arguments over who made the first move, as well as avoiding the perception that dialogue is for political "expediency" and not aimed at the possibility of any eventual good emerging from the discussions. Unfortunately, the climate for US-Iran dialogue today is rife with serious misgivings about the other side's motives and characterized by a running mill of accusations and counter-accusations.

Some elements in the US recently attacked Iran for allegedly being a haven for al-Qaeda terrorists, and this author was struck, in the course of listening to a recent interview by the Voice of America, about how determined are the efforts to make this allegation stick at this sensitive juncture. In response, the author pointed at the varying positions of the UN Security Council's Committee Concerning al-Qaeda, Taliban, and the Associated Individuals and Entities, praising Iran's cooperation with this committee.

In conclusion, lingering suspicion about motives can be cleared away by deepening the process of dialogue and broadening its scope by initiating a North Korea multilateral dialogue, for instance. Questions about the motives and intentions can be cleared up, however, only when the discrete issue of Iraq's stability is telescoped into the larger issues blocking normalization. Perpetuation of ill-will between the two countries is guaranteed as long as they continue to shun direct dialogue on the "mother of all issues" - the nuclear issue.


plz pray,
Sardarzada
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