IRAN Crisis and Military Preparations Escalating
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28 April 2006

News, Views, & Analysis Governments, Lobbies, & the
Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know

Pentagon plans Iran crisis simulation involving uop U.S. officials

"So far, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have held simulations that
envisioned a conflict with Iran. On June 2, the Pentagon plans to
detonate 700 tons of explosives in the Nevada desert in an effort to
determine the effectiveness of bunker-busting bombs against hardened
targets in Iran and North Korea. Officials said the forthcoming Pentagon
exercise on Iran, would test the responses of groups of 15 to 20 people."

MER - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 29 April. The U.N. Security Council Iran debate is really just posturing, for so much these days of international affairs is public relations, positioning and timing. The Americans have known from the start that two of the five key veto-wielding members of the Security Council, Russia and China, are not going to play it their way, certainly not with Chapter 7 'enforcement' provisions. All the while the military forces are preparing throughout the region, and indeed throughout the world. Meanwhile, politically in the U.S. itself, powerful voices are speaking up unusually harshly against the imperial militant intentions of the Bush/Cheney Neocon/Evangelical Administration vis-a-vis Iran and beyond. 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.

Pentagon plans Iran crisis simulation involving
top U.S. political officials

WASHINGTON — The United States has scheduled an exercise that would include the use of military options against Iran and involve the U.S. leadership.

The Pentagon plans to conduct an exercise designed to simulate an Iranian nuclear crisis and a U.S. response. The exercise is scheduled for July 18 and will include senior officials as well as members of Congress.

"We may draw from something that happened in real life or could happen in real life to make it as current or realistic as possible," David Thomas, spokesman for the Pentagon's National Defense University, said on April 19.

The National Defense University has been assigned to develop the exercise. The university includes the National Strategic Gaming Center, which introduces military commanders, officials and other representatives.

In October 2005, the university released a study on Iran's nuclear program. The 104-page report did not call for a U.S. preventive strike, but urged Washington to bolster the capability of a rapid military response.

"Effective deterrence requires a credible range of military options and assured capabilities to respond to attack," stated the report, "Reassessing the Implications of a Nuclear-Armed Iran."

"The ability of the United States to react quickly and effectively would depend on it maintaining a military presence in the region, even though such presence may not be welcomed in some quarters," the report stated.

The Bush administration has held a series of discussions regarding U.S. options to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. President Bush said the United States has focused on diplomatic measures, but would not rule out a military strike to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program.

So far, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have held simulations that envisioned a conflict with Iran. On June 2, the Pentagon plans to detonate 700 tons of explosives in the Nevada desert in an effort to determine the effectiveness of bunker-busting bombs against hardened targets in Iran and North Korea.

Officials said the forthcoming Pentagon exercise on Iran, would test the responses of groups of 15 to 20 people.

The National Defense University also plans a simulation on China in May.

In 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld included members of Congress in simulations and exercises in an effort to facilitate discussions on policy options. The exercises have usually lasted a day and do not include simulated combat.

"We develop scenarios based on things that are fairly current in the real world, but the schedule is set way in advance," Thomas said. "The intent is to teach, to educate, the complexity of decisions in formulating policy."

Think tank: U.S. could easily stop Iran from closing Strait of Hormuz

WASHINGTON — Iran lacks the capability to block the world's leading shipping route for crude oil exports, according to a new report by a Washington think tank.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies said the Iranian navy, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has failed to procure platforms or weapons required to block the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for 60 percent of the world's oil trade. In a report, the Washington-based center said the United States could block any Iranian attempt to attack Gulf shipping, particularly from the sea.

"Iran could not close the Strait of Hormuz, or halt tanker traffic, and its submarines and much of its IRGC forces would probably be destroyed in a matter of days if they become operational," the report said.

The assertion undermined an Iranian warning to threaten the global oil trade if attacked by the United States. The warning was issued during the Holy Prophet exercise in the Gulf, which took place from March 31 to April 6.

Authored by Anthony Cordesman and Khalid Al-Rodhan, the report said Iran could seek to disrupt Gulf oil traffic from land-based facilities. The report, "Iranian Nuclear Weapons? The Options if Diplomacy Fails," envisioned Iranian missile strikes on oil facilities in Iraq and the southern Gulf region in response to a U.S. air strike.

"Even sporadic random strikes would create a high risk premium and potential panic in oil markets," the report said.

Still, the report said, the Iranian navy remains highly vulnerable and would be quickly overwhelmed by a U.S. attack. The navy has deployed such assets as the Raad anti-ship missile, with a range of up to 100 kilometers and deployed near the Strait of Hormuz.

The navy also operates three "relatively effective" Kilo-class submarines procured from Russia, the report said. The underwater platforms have been equipped with mines as well as long-range wire-guided torpedoes.

The report said the IRGC naval branch operates 10 Hudong missile patrol boats with sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. The force also deploys C-14 high-speed catamarans and 40 Bohammar Marine patrol boats.

"Many are so small they are difficult to detect with ship-borne radars," the report said. "They can conduct suicide attacks, or release floating mines covertly in shipping lanes or near key facilities."

The report also dismissed the effectiveness of Iran's air defense umbrella. Cordesman and Al Rodhan said Iran's arsenal of aging Western- or Russian-origin surface-to-air missile batteries could be quickly neutralized by U.S. countermeasures.

"All of its major systems are based on technology that is now more than 35 years old, and all are vulnerable to U.S. use of active and passive countermeasures," the report said. "Iran's air defense forces are too widely spaced to provide more than limited air defense for key bases and facilities, and many lack the missile launcher strength to be fully effective."

Saudis fear Iran is after their oil, not Israel

Saudi Arabia has been making reassuring statements in public. But privately, Saudi leaders are skirting the edge of panic as they watch Iran's nuclear weapons program unfold.

Western intelligence sources said the kingdom fears it will be the first target of any Teheran retaliation against a U.S. strike on its nuclear facilities. The sources said the Saudi leaders believe Iran has placed Saudi Arabia at the top of the list of targets in an effort to deter any U.S. strike.

"The Saudis provide the difference between a stable and unstable energy market," one Western intelligence source said. "One Iranian missile toward a major Saudi oil facility and the market collapses."

The Saudis have not been assuaged by Iran's threats against Israel.

Indeed, Saudi leaders believe that Iran and Israel have been cooperating as part of an effort to establish Shi'ite dominance over Sunnis in the Middle East.

Here is the Saudi scenario: Iran takes over southern Iraq through its Shi'ite quislings and becomes owner of the huge oil reserves in the area. That would place Iran along the borders of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

At that point, Iran would send thousands of Arabic-speaking agents into Saudi Arabia's eastern province, where the kingdom's considerable Shi'ite minority live. These agents would be in striking distance of Saudi oil wells and refinery.

The Saudis have dismissed the prospect of an Iranian attack on Israel.

They assess that such a strike — whether nuclear or conventional — would kill many more Palestinians than Israelis. Israel has already protected much of its population through a missile defense system and bunkers. That leaves the Palestinians vulnerable — something Teheran wants to avoid.

"There's only one Iranian target seen by the Saudis and that's themselves," the source said. "The royal family believes that nobody would raise a finger to help the Saudis. There's too much oil to be divided."

The only ally the Saudis trust is Pakistan. Islamabad has been given billions of dollars by the Saudi kingdom, money that has certainly financed Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Pakistan has similar fears of a nuclear Iran, and particularly one that would threaten oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

The sources expect Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to accelerate nuclear and missile cooperation over the next year. Another possible ally could be Russia, which has also offered to provide a response to an Iranian nuclear threat.

Cash moving out of Iran as U.S. hints at actions by extra-UN alliance

The international crisis over Iran’s nuclear program has resulted in large amounts of money being sent out of the country as well as a sharp decline in the number of tourists traveling to Iran, U.S. officials said.

Wealthy Iranians have been making large cash deposits in Swiss banks and in other secure locations in Europe because of fears that the U.S. or Israel will launch military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Additionally, more than 60 percent of travel reservations have been cancelled in recent months.

Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, told reporters that the U.S. is already taking steps to form a coalition outside the United Nations to impose sanctions on Iran for its defiance of the world body.

“If the Security Council cannot act over a reasonable period of time, then there will be an opportunity for groups of countries to organize themselves together for the purpose of isolating the Iranians diplomatically and economically,” Burns said. “It's not beyond the realm of the possible that at some point in the future a group of countries could get together, if the Security Council is not able to act, to take collective economic action or collective action on sanctions.”

The action would be designed to circumvent “those that might prevent the Security Council from acting effectively,” such as Russia and China, he said.

In Washington, Robert Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control, said the Iranians have “both feet on the accelerator” of their nuclear weapons program.

“They're moving very quickly to establish new realities on the ground associated with their nuclear program,” he said.

Iran claims it has converted enough uranium for 110 tons of uranium hexafluoride as feedstock for centrifuges.

“This is enough material for more than 10 weapons,” Joseph said.

Joseph said the most disturbing aspect of the Iranian nuclear program is the announcement by Teheran that they are operating a cascade of 164 centrifuges. “I'm a political scientist, not a nuclear physicist, but every nuclear physicist that I have talked to in the past has always suggested that 164 is a key number, because once you're able to operate over a sustained period of time 164 centrifuges in cascade, and feed into that this material, this UF6 that I talked about, you're well on your way to an industrial-scale capability in terms of the production of enriched uranium,” he said.

Iran wants 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz by the end of the year, enough to produce one nuclear weapon a year, he said.

Iran also claims it is developing the P-2 design centrifuge that is four times more effective at enrichment than the P-1, Joseph said.

“This is likely the greatest strategic threat that we face as a nation and that faces the international community,” Joseph said.

“A nuclear-armed Iran is something that we simply cannot tolerate, and this is a sense that is shared very widely by most states. A nuclear-armed Iran would represent, I think, a direct threat, not only to us and not only to the countries in the region, but to the entire nuclear nonproliferation regime. It would represent a threat to stability in the region, because a nuclear-armed Iran, I believe, would be emboldened to take even more aggressive actions through the use of terrorism and other means.”

Rumsfeld's vote of no confidence on Iran intelligence

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week that he has little confidence in the ability of U.S. intelligence agencies to gauge Iran’s covert nuclear program.

Asked by radio talk show host Laura Ingraham if he has confidence in U.S. estimates that Iran is five to 10 years from having nuclear weapons, Rumsfeld replied: “No. I’m not confident.”

“I think it's a very difficult target for our intelligence community,” he said. “They work hard at it and they're fine people, but it's a difficult thing to do. Our visibility into their circumstance is imperfect.”

Rumsfeld also said that the question of how long it will take the Iranians to develop a nuclear bomb indigenously without foreign assistance, “you’d get one answer.”

“If you said what if they were able to get ballistic missiles from North Korea, as they have, and what if they were able to acquire fissile material from somebody? How long would it take? I think you'd get a somewhat different answer,” he said.

Rumsfeld has been a skeptic on U.S. intelligence since he headed a special commission in 1998 that criticized U.S. intelligence for its failures to accurately gauge foreign missile developments.

A U.S. intelligence estimate from 1996 stated that no nation outside of the declared nuclear powers would be capable of hitting the United States with a long-range missile for 15 years.

In August 1998, shortly after Rumsfeld’s missile commission issued its report, North Korea fired a long-range Taepodong missile that caught U.S. intelligence agencies by surprise and contradicted the intelligence estimate.

Russia coming through with strategic assistance in Iran's time of need

Russia is stepping up defense-related support to Iran at a time when the United States is seeking to pressure Teheran into giving up its nuclear weapons program.

Moscow has agreed to send advanced Tor-M1 air defense missiles to Teheran. The missiles could be used by the Iranians to counter any U.S. and allied military action against their nuclear sites.

Moscow also has agreed to upgrade Iran’s two Kilo-class submarines. The submarines will be equipped with the new SS-N-27 anti-ship missiles.

Meanwhile, Iran is building up its naval forces in the Caspian Sea with additional cruisers and frigates, according to Iranian press reports.

Iranian ground forces are also building up along the Caspian coast from Anzali to the east.

U.S. to upgrade aging missile defense systems with advanced tech

WASHINGTON — The United States plans to modernize the Patriot PAC-2 air and missile defense system that is used by U.S. allies around the world.

The U.S. Army has awarded Raytheon a $47-million contract to upgrade PAC-2 systems to GEM+ configuration. GEM, or Guided Enhanced Missile, seeks to incorporate advanced technology used in PAC-3 in the PAC-2 systems, which reflect 1980s technology.

So far, the Defense Department has approved 11 orders relating to the GEM+ project. The orders have reached $256 million since 2000.

"This modernization program plays a vital role in providing the U.S. Army the capability to defeat modern threats," Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems Vice President Rick Yuse said.

Raytheon has presented GEM+ as an upgrade that would allow the Army to transform its missile inventory into PAC-3 configuration capability.

Executives said capability close to that of PAC-3 could be achieved for a fraction of the cost of a new system.

Several Middle East countries have been briefed on the GEM+ upgrade, including Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, all of which deploy the PAC-2.

Industry sources Israel rejected the GEM+ upgrade as insufficient.

On April 13, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $379.7-million Pentagon contract for the PAC-3. Under the award, Lockheed Martin would supply interceptors, launchers and spares for the PAC-3.

28 April 2006, Source World


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April 2006


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)
Israel’s...three Dolphin-class nuclear submarines already on standby in the Straits of Hormuz had been brought to one level below launch to fire their guided missiles into predetermined Iranian rocket sites. The air force was at “take-off readiness” to launch air strikes. The Sholdag unit, modelled on the SAS, was ready to launch an aerial assault on the prime nuclear target of Natanz where the Taepodong-1 rockets were being assembled.

Neocons Take Pentagon To War With Internet and Media
(April 11, 2006)
This article was published a few days ago in the SUNDAY HERALD in Scotland. It reports on a very important and new aspect of the American NEOCON agenda now being implemented by the Pentagon with its whopping budget and capabilities. The CIA and other U.S. departments are thought to be involved though stealth tactics make it difficult to penetrate to the core of what is really happening. Bottom line: This is INFORMATION WARFARE and deception not only against the perceived enemies of the Americans but against their own citizens and allies as well.

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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