Friday, May 25, 2007

US Prepares For The Bombing Of Iran

'War' Rages Between The Cheney And Bush Camps Over When To Begin Attack

A growing majority of military analysts appear to be settling on the scenario that the United States will launch air strikes on a number of Iran's nuclear energy facilities, or will quietly encourage Israel to launch the strikes, but will not launch a ground invasion.

One particularly interesting scenario now surfacing in the US is that the pressure to launch air strikes against Iran are not coming from President Bush, but from Vice President Dick Cheney, who is supposedly furious at moves by the president, and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice to engage in talks and negotiations with the Iranians over their nuclear energy future.

And yet, as fresh moves begin to increase the international sanctions levelled against Iran, the United States now has a monumental display of naval and air power performing "exercises" just off the coast of Iran.

President Bush is now more focused on blaming Iran for the failure of the American "troop surge" in Baghdad than he is on pushing claims they are working towards nuclear weapons.

Whether or not the Bush and US military claims that Iran is fighting a covert war against the US in Iraq, through weapons supplies, financing and training of 'Al Qaeda' militants, is still debatable.

But reportedly reliable White House insiders claim that Cheney wants the bombing to begin now, not in a few months, or a few years, when the IAEA says Iran is likely to have developed nuclear weapons, if they are actually even developing nuclear weapons :

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

While the Iraq War dominates the American public's attention, behind the scenes in the corridors of the White House, and in the West Wing itself, a secret war is now unfolding. A war between Bush and Cheney, and their teams of bureaucrats, diplomats and advisers, over when the bombing of Iran should begin.

From The Australian :
The US today threatened new UN sanctions to punish Iran's nuclear drive as it ratcheted up tensions with the biggest display of naval power in the Gulf in years.

A bristling US armada led by two aircraft carriers steamed into waters near Iran for exercises, hours before UN watchdogs said Iran was expanding its uranium enrichment program in defiance of international sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran continues to enrich uranium - which can provide fuel for civilian reactors but also make nuclear bombs.

That prompted warnings from US officials of further UN punishment unless Iran curtails its nuclear development - which the Islamic republic insists is devoted to civilian energy.

The US Navy said the Gulf exercises were not directed at Iran but Mustafa Alani, senior analyst with the UAE-based Gulf Research Centre, said it was no coincidence the powerful flotilla arrived on the day of the IAEA report.

"The aim of this step, which coincides entirely with the end of the UN deadline (to suspend enrichment), is to send a clear message to Iran that a military option is available to Washington," Mr Alani said.

The carriers USS John Stennis and USS Nimitz sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf along with a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ships carrying an estimated 2200 marines.

"We do maritime security operations here to reassure friends in the region of our commitment, and certainly this is a viable commitment and a visible one that helps security and stability in the waters here," said Commander Kevin Aandahl, a spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.

Mr Alani said a sudden, unexpected outbreak of hostilities between the US and Iran could be triggered by events in Iraq.

Ahead of Monday's talks, the US said Iran was escalating a proxy war against US forces in Iraq as the two nations sparred verbally over a number of their nationals being detained by each other.

From the UK Independent :

The Bush administration may be highlighting accusations that the Iranian government is behind attacks in Iraq in order to strengthen its hand in preparing for military strikes on Iran, according to a leading British think-tank.

In a report sifting the evidence produced by US authorities against Iran, the independent think-tank Basic cast doubt on the strength of the intelligence, saying that proved links between the Tehran regime and militia inside Iraq remained "sketchy".

Given the close ties between Shia Muslim Iran and Iraq, which has a dominant Shia population in the south, the report warned of the dangers of conflating "legitimate acts of foreign relations and cross-border movements of people" with the alleged Iranian involvement in violence.

The UK and US governments have frequently accused Iran of aiding militant groups in Iraq who are attacking coalition forces. However, the report said that "despite efforts by the Bush administration to confirm the strength of evidence presented, doubt still surrounds the case against Iran, particularly with regard to the degree of direct involvement of the Iranian leadership.

"Whatever the true extent and nature of Iranian military action in Iraq, few independent analysts believe Tehran is playing a decisive role in the sectarian warfare and insurgency," said the report.

Turning to the US strategic motivation for highlighting the Iranian role in Iraq, Basic (British American Security Information Council) suggested that Iran could be a "useful scapegoat to divert the blame" for failures in Iraq away from the occupying powers. But also, "if Tehran can be cast as a source of regional instability in the eyes of the international community, then the US administration's hand will be strengthened as it seeks support for stronger measures to oppose Iranian nuclear ambitions".

From CSM :

Iran says it will not succumb to "enemy" efforts to halt its nuclear program, as a US armada deployed in the Persian Gulf – setting the stage for an important week in Iran's standoff with the United States and other world powers.

US and Iranian diplomats are slated to meet in Baghdad Monday, for the first time, to discuss security in Iraq. And key powers are meeting to renew Western efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions after the UN's nuclear watchdog reported substantial progress in enrichment capability by Iran. The report has prompted calls from some countries for a third set of sanctions.

"The enemies want us to surrender so that Iran won't have anything to say in the world," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday. "With the backing of the Iranian nation, we are not afraid of the enemies' ... psychological warfare, and with God's help, we have come to our ultimate goals."

This week, US commanders have again accused Iran of backing anti-US forces of all stripes in Iraq. On Wednesday, nine warships with 17,000 sailors and marines – the largest US force assembled there in years – passed through the Strait of Hormuz, just miles off Iran's coast. The exercises are to end with an amphibious landing on Kuwait's beaches.

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