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Friday, September 12, 2008

Iran Threat....Latest News

Iran is a Threat, But the West Can't Afford to Have Israel Bomb It - Yet - Telegraph - Con Coughlin

With almost every day that passes, the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme appears to move a step closer to what looks increasingly like its inevitable conclusion - military action.Israel may be in the process of choosing a new prime minister, but that has not stopped its military establishment from pressing ahead with preparations to launch unilateral air strikes, should the West fail in its long-running diplomatic mission to bring Tehran to its senses.As the Israeli media reported yesterday, the plans for an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities have reached the stage where Jerusalem has presented the Bush administration with an inventory of the military equipment it needs to ensure the mission is a success.This includes "bunker-buster" bombs and refuelling planes to support the F-16 bombers. Even if Washington proves unwilling to provide this support, the Israelis are confident they can go it alone, especially after the success of the attack last year against a nuclear installation the Syrians were trying to build.The Israeli air force completely destroyed the complex, and its F-16s were well on their way home before the Syrians realised what was going on.Although the Israelis would prefer to have Washington's blessing and military assistance if they were to stage a similar strike against Iran's facilities, the only significant obstacle that remains in their way is getting the US military to grant permission for their planes to use a corridor through Iraqi air space, which the Americans have so far declined.While the Bush administration is sympathetic to Israel's concern about the existential threat it faces from Iran's nuclear programme, the White House remains reluctant to sanction military action.This is not because Washington still doubts that Iran is trying to develop an atomic arsenal - last year's controversial National Intelligence Estimate, which claimed Iran had halted work on its nuclear weapons programme, has now been widely discounted as erroneous within the transatlantic intelligence community.What concerns Washington is that military action against Iran would have disastrous consequences for the US-led coalition's efforts to bring stability to Iraq, where, as President Bush pointed out this week, progress is being made after the success of the military surge strategy by General David Petraeus.He will soon take control of US Central Command, which, among its many other responsibilities, handles security in the Gulf region, including Iran.Gen Petraeus's successor in Baghdad, Lt Gen Raymond Odierno, recently confided to US officials that his biggest fear concerning the Iraq mission was a unilateral Israeli air strike against Iran.The Iranian government has made it clear that it would respond to any such attack by retaliating against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as launching terror attacks against western capitals, including London.One important lesson the Bush administration has learnt from its painful involvement in Iraq is the importance of thinking through the likely consequences of military action. The most obvious consequence of any strike against Iran would be renewed sectarian violence in Iraq.But even though Washington continues to have strong reservations about the wisdom of attacking Iran, Israel's growing restlessness regarding the Iranian threat has not been lost on the mullahs, who, according to the latest western intelligence reports, appear to have intensified their efforts to conceal significant parts of their nuclear development programme.US spy satellites have detected several installations that intelligence officials believe are being used by Iran for a nuclear project that has not been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN-sponsored body responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear programme.One facility is located in the Amir Abid residential district of Tehran, where western nuclear experts believe the Iranians are conducting experiments with the sophisticated P2 centrifuge.Another suspicious site, whose existence British officials recently made public, is at Darhavin in south-west Iran, 200 miles from the Bushehr nuclear power plant. After Foreign Office officials expressed their concerns about it, the Iranians acknowledged they were building another nuclear reactor.Suspicions that Iran has resumed work on its clandestine nuclear weapons programme have deepened after the discovery by nuclear inspectors that significant quantities of enriched uranium are unaccounted for at Iran's uranium conversion facility at Isfahan, where raw uranium "yellow cake" undergoes the first stage of the enrichment cycle.Although the Isfahan complex is supposed to be under close IAEA supervision, nuclear inspectors only have access to the final storage area of the process which produces UF6, enriched uranium that can ultimately be used to provide weapons-grade fissile material. According to research by nuclear inspectors, between 50 and 60 tons of UF6 - enough to make six atom bombs - is unaccounted for. They suspect Iranian scientists have diverted the material from the complex before it reaches the storage rooms, where the IAEA relies on a single CCTV camera to monitor production. So far, the Iranians have failed to come up with an adequate explanation for these discrepancies, and until they do the drumbeats of war are unlikely to subside.

New Evidence Points to Renewed Weapons Work
JERUSALEM -- Fresh evidence has emerged suggesting Iran has renewed work on nuclear weapons, according to Western security sources. Experts monitoring Iran's nuclear program have discovered that enough enriched uranium, which if processed to weapons grade level could make up to six atomic bombs, has disappeared from the main production facility at Isfahan. more

Posted 12/9/2008 @ 10:1:46 GMT
Palin: US Mustn't 'Second Guess' an Israeli Strike on Iran
The US must ensure that Teheran does not obtain weapons of mass destruction and should not second guess an Israeli decision to carry out a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate in the US presidential race, said Thursday night in an interview with ABC News that focused almost entirely on foreign policy issues. more

Posted 11/9/2008 @ 14:37:49 GMT
Israel Aasks U.S. for Arms, Air Corridor to Attack Iran
The security aid package the United States has refused to give Israel for the past few months out of concern that Israel would use it to attack nuclear facilities in Iran included a large number of "bunker-buster" bombs, permission to use an air corridor to Iran, an advanced technological system and refueling planes. more

Posted 11/9/2008 @ 11:31:33 GMT
US Slaps Sanctions on Iranian Shipping Firm
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration on Wednesday slapped financial sanctions on Iran's largest state-owned shipping line and its affiliates for allegedly helping to transfer military-related arms and cargo. more

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