Iran Attack Preparations
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2 April 2006
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IRAN ATTACK PREPARATIONS

"It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy
Iran's
ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is 'inevitable'..."

MER - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 2 April:
With Washington politics in slow-motion meltdown, the Iraq war bordering on historic catastrophe, and an impeachment attempt possibly looming, preparations for attacking Iran are very real. A few days ago a quarter-page ad on the Op Ed Page of the New York Times loudly warned this is what is coming. Furthermore both Washington and Israel may actually be attempting to provoke Iran and supporters, or at least prepare the public climate to blame them for anything that may happen, in order to create the excuse and momentum to unleash the wider war long sought by the Neocons, the fundamentalist Evangelicals, and the hardline Israeli Lobby. The following articles, all published today, are from Sunday's Telegraph in the UK, Zaman in Turkey, and the Washington Post in the U.S. And remember the previous articles and analysis published by MER for some time.



London Government in secret talks about strike against Iran
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent

Daily Telegraph - 2 April 2006: The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme.


A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence
A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence

Tomorrow's meeting will be attended by Gen Sir Michael Walker, the chief of the defence staff, Lt Gen Andrew Ridgway, the chief of defence intelligence and Maj Gen Bill Rollo, the assistant chief of the general staff, together with officials from the Foreign Office and Downing Street.

The International Atomic Energy Authority, the nuclear watchdog, believes that much of Iran's programme is now devoted to uranium enrichment and plutonium separation, technologies that could provide material for nuclear bombs to be developed in the next three years.

The United States government is hopeful that the military operation will be a multinational mission, but defence chiefs believe that the Bush administration is prepared to launch the attack on its own or with the assistance of Israel, if there is little international support. British military chiefs believe an attack would be limited to a series of air strikes against nuclear plants - a land assault is not being considered at the moment.

But confirmation that Britain has started contingency planning will undermine the claim last month by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that a military attack against Iran was "inconceivable".

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, insisted, during a visit to Blackburn yesterday, that all negotiating options - including the use of force - remained open in an attempt to resolve the crisis.


Gen Sir Michael Walker
General Sir Michael Walker

Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from US navy ships and submarines in the Gulf would, it is believed, target Iran's air defence systems at the nuclear installations.

That would enable attacks by B2 stealth bombers equipped with eight 4,500lb enhanced BLU-28 satellite-guided bunker-busting bombs, flying from Diego Garcia, the isolated US Navy base in the Indian Ocean, RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and Whiteman USAF base in Missouri.

It is understood that any direct British involvement in an attack would be limited but may extend to the use of the RAF's highly secret airborne early warning aircraft.

At the centre of the crisis is Washington's fear that an Iranian nuclear weapon could be used against Israel or US forces in the region, such as the American air base at Incirlik in Turkey.

The UN also believes that the production of a bomb could also lead to further destabilisation in the Middle East, which would result in Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia all developing nuclear weapons programmes.


Click to enlarge

A senior Foreign Office source said: "Monday's meeting will set out to address the consequences for Britain in the event of an attack against Iran. The CDS [chiefs of defence staff] will want to know what the impact will be on British interests in Iraq and Afghanistan which both border Iran. The CDS will then brief the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on their conclusions in the next few days.

"If Iran makes another strategic mistake, such as ignoring demands by the UN or future resolutions, then the thinking among the chiefs is that military action could be taken to bring an end to the crisis. The belief in some areas of Whitehall is that an attack is now all but inevitable.

There will be no invasion of Iran but the nuclear sites will be destroyed. This is not something that will happen imminently, maybe this year, maybe next year. Jack Straw is making exactly the same noises that the Government did in March 2003 when it spoke about the likelihood of a war in Iraq.

"Then the Government said the war was neither inevitable or imminent and then attacked."

The source said that the Israeli attack against Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 proved that a limited operation was the best military option.

The Israeli air force launched raids against the plant, which intelligence suggested was being used to develop a nuclear bomb for use against Israel.

Military chiefs also plan tomorrow to discuss fears that an attack within Iran will "unhinge" southern Iraq - where British troops are based - an area mainly populated by Shia Muslims who have strong political and religious links to Iran.

They are concerned that this could delay any withdrawal of troops this year or next. There could also be consequences for British and US troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran.

The MoD meeting will address the economic issues that could arise if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president - who became the subject of international condemnation last year when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" - cuts off oil supplies to the West in reprisal.


Iran factfile

There are thought to be at least eight known sites within Iran involved in the production of nuclear materials, although it is generally accepted that there are many more secret installations.

Iran has successfully tested a Fajr-3 missile that can reach Israel, avoiding radar and hitting several targets using multiple warheads, its military has confirmed.

21 March 2006: Bush warns Iran: don't touch our ally Israel
14 March 2006: Bush ready to initiate 'regime change' for the mullahs

Leader: Time to take action

Sleuths look for smoking gun

The experts' analysis

Iran factfile






Zaman.com - Turkey - 2 April: The United States is firm in its plans to launch a military operation against Iran, said Kazim Jalali, a spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s Commission of Foreign Affairs, adding the United States would find another reason for its military operation even if the nuclear plants were immediately shut down.

There are peaceful motives behind the nuclear projects in Iran, said Jalali, when he asserted that the use of nuclear weapons is outlawed according to Islam too. The Western news media distorted what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said about Israel, Jalali argued.

Jalali was hosted in Turkey by the Political Thought Platform. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, Jalali told Zaman, and added that the treaty accords certain rights to produce and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

There are nuclear projects in Iran that allow international monitoring, said Jalali.

“For the past three years, 1,700 international overseers have been granted official permission to inspect Iran’s nuclear projects. One is most unlikely to see any other instances of this. Iran received an order from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to relinquish its works on nuclear energy within a period of two months. Iran put on hold its nuclear works of its own accord when the government here conferred with the European Union member countries on the Paris Pact. With a blind eye to our efforts, they asked us for a sheer abandonment of nuclear projects.

Iran’s use of a new generation of technology would alarm the United States,” said the Iranian deputy. He argued that the administration in Washington is encouraging the IAEA to press the administration in Tehran to turn its back on the nuclear projects.

The nuclear works in Tehran are only used as a pretext by the United States to do away with the Islamic regime of Iran, Jalali said.

“The United States will always have a reason to strike Iran in spite of an assertion from the government here to close soon all the nuclear plants.”

Although there is a common awareness of the presence of nuclear weapons in Israel, there is no objection to Israeli right to own such weaponry, said Jalali.

The Iranian government will definitely not disown its peaceful nuclear projects, Jalali concluded.


Attacking Iran May Trigger Terrorism
U.S. Experts Wary of Military Action Over Nuclear Program

By Dana Priest

Washington Post - Page 1 - Sunday 2 April: As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.

Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.

U.S. officials would not discuss what evidence they have indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action, but the matter "is consuming a lot of time" throughout the U.S. intelligence apparatus, one senior official said. "It's a huge issue," another said.

Citing prohibitions against discussing classified information, U.S. intelligence officials declined to say whether they have detected preparatory measures, such as increased surveillance, counter-surveillance or message traffic, on the part of Iran's foreign-based intelligence operatives.

But terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups -- namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Iranian government views the Islamic Jihad, the name of Hezbollah's terrorist organization, "as an extension of their state. . . . operational teams could be deployed without a long period of preparation," said Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism.

The possibility of a military confrontation has been raised only obliquely in recent months by President Bush and Iran's government. Bush says he is pursuing a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but he has added that all options are on the table for stopping Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Speaking in Vienna last month, Javad Vaeedi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, warned the United States that "it may have the power to cause harm and pain, but it is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if the United States wants to pursue that path, let the ball roll," although he did not specify what type of harm he was talking about.

Government officials said their interest in Iran's intelligence services is not an indication that a military confrontation is imminent or likely, but rather a reflection of a decades-long adversarial relationship in which Iran's agents have worked secretly against U.S. interests, most recently in Iraq and Pakistan. As confrontation over Iran's nuclear program has escalated, so has the effort to assess the threat from Iran's covert operatives.

U.N. Security Council members continue to debate how best to pressure Iran to prove that its nuclear program is not meant for weapons. The United States, Britain and France want the Security Council to threaten Iran with economic sanctions if it does not end its uranium enrichment activities. Russia and China, however, have declined to endorse such action and insist on continued negotiations. Security Council diplomats are meeting this weekend to try to break the impasse. Iran says it seeks nuclear power but not nuclear weapons.

Former CIA terrorism analyst Paul R. Pillar said that any U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iranian territory "would be regarded as an act of war" by Tehran, and that Iran would strike back with its terrorist groups. "There's no doubt in my mind about that. . . . Whether it's overseas at the hands of Hezbollah, in Iraq or possibly Europe, within the regime there would be pressure to take violent action."

Before Sept. 11, the armed wing of Hezbollah, often working on behalf of Iran, was responsible for more American deaths than in any other terrorist attacks. In 1983 Hezbollah truck-bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241, and in 1996 truck-bombed Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. service members.

Iran's intelligence service, operating out of its embassies around the world, assassinated dozens of monarchists and political dissidents in Europe, Pakistan, Turkey and the Middle East in the two decades after the 1979 Iranian revolution, which brought to power a religious Shiite government. Argentine officials also believe Iranian agents bombed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, killing 86 people. Iran has denied involvement in that attack.

Iran's intelligence services "are well trained, fairly sophisticated and have been doing this for decades," said Crumpton, a former deputy of operations at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. "They are still very capable. I don't see their capabilities as having diminished."

Both sides have increased their activities against the other. The Bush administration is spending $75 million to step up pressure on the Iranian government, including funding non-governmental organizations and alternative media broadcasts. Iran's parliament then approved $13.6 million to counter what it calls "plots and acts of meddling" by the United States.

"Given the uptick in interest in Iran" on the part of the United States, "it would be a very logical assumption that we have both ratcheted up [intelligence] collection, absolutely," said Fred Barton, a former counterterrorism official who is now vice president of counterterrorism for Stratfor, a security consulting and forecasting firm. "It would be a more fevered pitch on the Iranian side because they have fewer options."

The office of the director of national intelligence, which recently began to manage the U.S. intelligence agencies, declined to allow its analysts to discuss their assessment of Iran's intelligence services and Hezbollah and their capabilities to retaliate against U.S. interests.

"We are unable to address your questions in an unclassified manner," a spokesman for the office, Carl Kropf, wrote in response to a Washington Post query.

The current state of Iran's intelligence apparatus is the subject of debate among experts. Some experts who spent their careers tracking the intelligence ministry's operatives describe them as deployed worldwide and easier to monitor than Hezbollah cells because they operate out of embassies and behave more like a traditional spy service such as the Soviet KGB.

Other experts believe the Iranian service has become bogged down in intense, regional concerns: attacks on Shiites in Pakistan, the Iraq war and efforts to combat drug trafficking in Iran.

As a result, said Bahman Baktiari, an Iran expert at the University of Maine, the intelligence service has downsized its operations in Europe and the United States. But, said Baktiari, "I think the U.S. government doesn't have a handle on this."

Because Iran's nuclear facilities are scattered around the country, some military specialists doubt a strike could effectively end the program and would require hundreds of strikes beforehand to disable Iran's vast air defenses. They say airstrikes would most likely inflame the Muslim world, alienate reformers within Iran and could serve to unite Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, which have only limited contact currently.

A report by the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks cited al-Qaeda's long-standing cooperation with the Iranian-back Hezbollah on certain operations and said Osama bin Laden may have had a previously undisclosed role in the Khobar attack. Several al-Qaeda figures are reportedly under house arrest in Iran.

Others in the law enforcement and intelligence circles have been more dubious about cooperation between al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, largely because of the rivalries between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Al-Qaeda adherents are Sunni Muslims; Hezbollah's are Shiites.

Iran "certainly wants to remind governments that they can create a lot of difficulty if strikes were to occur," said a senior European counterterrorism official interviewed recently. "That they might react with all means, Hezbollah inside Lebanon and outside Lebanon, this is certain. Al-Qaeda could become a tactical alliance."


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April 2006


Magazine



IRAN Crisis and Military Preparations Escalating
(April 29, 2006)
The 'Revolt of the Generals' out-front target Rumsfeld wasn't really payback for the past, it was and is growing apprehension about the future. Bush 'The Decider' is much more boxed in than he has ever been, the Americans far weaker geostrategically and geopolitically than they are willing to admit (not only to others but to themselves). Impending defeat in the mid-term election and a possible serious impeachment attempt are looming large now in everyone's calculations. This is the context in which the war clock is ticking closer to midnight than in a long time and more ominously than since the face-offs between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that almost destroyed the world.

'The Israel Lobby' Paper Keeps On Ticking
(April 28, 2006)
It's hard to remember any 'academic paper' that has unleashed such a firestore of interest, applause, and vilification. The two highly respected academic authors no doubt knew they were walking on eggshells and about to hit sensitive political/social nerves, but it's doubtful they realized how abusive, slanderous, and sustained the mudslinging would become. Originally commissioned by The Atlantic Monthly, which now has taken an oath of silence and apparently gotten the Professors to agree it seems, the article didn't find a major publisher in the States where it is most relevant and timely. It ended up in a late March issue of The London Review of Books, but in the age of the Internet it quickly got extraordinary circulation far beyond. Robert Fisk takes it from there in his insightful article published today:

Chomsky - American on the road to being a 'Failed State'
(April 26, 2006)
In his new book Professor Noam Chomsky examines how the United States is beginning to resemble a failed state that cannot protect its citizens from violence and has a government that regards itself as beyond the reach of domestic or international law. In the book, Chomsky presents a series of solutions to help rescue the nation from turning into a failed state.

Apocalypse Then....and Now
(April 23, 2006)
Since writing this article nine years ago Edward Said has himself passed away, taking from us all one of the most eloquent and passionate voices of truly expert and courageous thought and analysis. Said was partially compromised and straight-jacketed by his associations with the major Arab regimes, which at the time of this article he was relying on for publication of his regular column. Even so Said's penetrating commentaries and often biting insights were among the best of his day and provide considerable insight now upon reflection many year and many terrible events later.

Bush/Cheney - Worst Ever?
(April 23, 2006)
"George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace." So declares ROLLING STONE magazine in a major cover story just out.

Fortress America on the Tigris
(April 22, 2006)
Fortress America in the 'Green Zone' and huge 'permanent' military bases around the country are the realities on the ground in America's Iraq no matter what the rhetoric. This article was published by the Associated Press earlier this month focusing on the world's largest super-Embassy-CIA-Occupation complex now emerging alon the Tigris.

Bush: Worst President in History?
(April 19, 2006)
"George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace." So declares ROLLING STONE magazine in a major cover story that hits the streets this Friday.

Get Ready For International Political/War Hurricanes
(April 19, 2006)
Hurricane force geopolitical winds are in the forecast for the rest of the year -- and beyond.

Corrupt Bought-And-Paid-For Washington
(April 18, 2006)
Modern-day Rome, Washington, D.C., has become a kind of political cesspool corrupting so many elected officials through the legalized loop-holes the big corporations, lobbyists, and power-brokers have themselves created. Former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers has long been, since his White House days, one of the great American champions explaining how bad things have become and crusading for serious reforms. No single thing would in fact change the nature of Washington and the policies that emerge from Washington than "Getting Money Out of Politics", the theme of this recent Moyer's article that has not received nearly enough attention.

US and Israel - Bring Down or Take Down IRAN
(April 12, 2006)
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Neocons Take Pentagon To War With Internet and Media
(April 11, 2006)
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TARGET IRAN - Washington Readies
(April 9, 2006)
'TARGET IRAN' is something MER has been reporting and emphasizing and warning about for some time now. The powerful combination of Israeli Lobby, largely Jewish Neocons, and Christian Evangelicals continues to work its will through the Bush/Cheney administration in 'New World Order' Washington. From the start Afghanistan and Iraq were never the end-goals -- that has always been U.S. imperial domination of the critical Middle East region in tandem with Israel. And as much as the Europeans often pretend to protest the underlying reality is their own involvment, complicity, and often under-the-table acquiescence if not outright support for the American/Israeli determination to control the region on behalf of the judeo-Christian 'civilized' Western world. These three telling and insightful articles appear today in the British media about 'Target Iran'

IRAN as 'October Surprise' 2006?
(April 8, 2006)
Thus a pre-emptive war on Iran, while a political triumph for the president this fall, could, like the invasion of Iraq, prove a long-term disaster.

Israel's Vast Arms and U.S. Policies Fuel Iranian Crisis
(April 6, 2006)
The Americans and the Europeans helped arm Israel over the years, so much so in fact that Israel today is far stronger militarily than all the Arab countries combined. And this is the geo-political military context for the crisis with Iran and for all the war quite public war threats from all sides.

TARGET IRAN - More Threats, Counterthreats, and Preparations
(April 4, 2006)
In recent days article after article and interview after interview have underscored the very real danger that the U.S. and Israel are in fact, not just in threat, preparing to attack Iran and attempt to destroy Iranian weapons capabilities. Also in recent days the Iranians have very publicly 'tested' and announced new weapons that if actually developed and deployed could be used to greatly harm the U.S., Israel, and allies as well as possibly cripple the world economy through blocking the Straits of Hormuz...all with unforetold but sure to be historic consequences.

Articles about publication of 'The Israel Lobby' and Professor Stephen Walt the principle author
(April 3, 2006)


Iran Attack Preparations
(April 2, 2006)
"It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is 'inevitable'..." ------------ With Washington politics in slow-motion meltdown, the Iraq war bordering on historic catastrophe, and an impeachment attempt possibly looming, preparations for attacking Iran are very real. A few days ago a quarter-page ad on the Op Ed Page of the New York Times loudly warned this is what is coming. Furthermore both Washington and Israel may actually be attempting to provoke Iran and supporters, or at least prepare the public climate to blame them for anything that may happen, in order to create the excuse and momentum to unleash the wider war long sought by the Neocons, the fundamentalist Evangelicals, and the hardline Israeli Lobby.




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