Ian Bruce / The Herald & Mike Whitney / CounterPunch – 2006-01-16 00:03:22
Israelis Plan Pre-emptive Strike on Iran
Ian Bruce / The Herald
LONDON (January 10 2006) — Israel is updating plans for a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities which could be launched as soon as the end of March, according to military and intelligence sources.
The news comes as Germany yesterday warned Tehran’s regime that it would face “consequences” if it removes UN seals from portions of its atomic programme and resumes enrichment of fuel which could be diverted for military use in breach of international agreements.
The Israeli raids would be carried out by long-range F-15E bombers and cruise missiles against a dozen key sites and are designed to set Tehran’s weapons programme back by up to two years.
Pilots at the Israeli air force’s elite 69 squadron have been briefed on the plan and have conducted rehearsals for their missions.
The prime targets would be the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, 150 miles south of Tehran, a heavy-water production site at Arak, 120 miles south-west of the capital, and a site near Isfahan in central Iran which makes the uranium hexafluoride gas vital to the arms manufacturing process.
Sources say one, possibly two airfields in Kurdish northern Iraq have been earmarked as launch-points to reduce flying time over Iran.
The Iranians have meanwhile dispersed production facilities across hundreds of miles of remote countryside to make a single, knockout blow more difficult.
They have also ringed the sites, some of them deep underground, with missile batteries and radar-controlled anti-aircraft guns.
Part of the reason for an acceleration of Israel’s contingency strike plans is that Russia agreed last month to sell Tehran £700m-worth of advanced SA-15 Gauntlet mobile missile systems.
Some are believed to be destined for defence of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant on the Gulf coast, which Russian engineers are helping to build.
Although Western military strategists think an attack on Tehran’s scattered sites would be fraught with difficulties and could not be carried out without loss to the attacking forces, few doubt Israel’s commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear firepower.
An Israeli source said: “We believe Iran will have useable nuclear weapons by 2007 unless something is done to prevent it. If Tehran is allowed to start enrichment of uranium, it will be too late.
“Underground facilities have to be supplied with air, water and fuel from the surface. They also have entrances which are vulnerable to conventional attack. Close down the infrastructure and you close down the facility.”
The Bombs of March Countdown to War with Iran?
Mike Whitney / CounterPunch.org
Iran will defend itself if it is attacked by the United States or Israel.
Defending one’s country against unprovoked aggression is sanctioned under international law and is a requirement of true leadership. We would expect no different if either the United States or Israel was attacked.
The Sharon and Bush administrations’ have done an admirable job of poisoning public opinion against Iran; interpreting President Ahmadinejad’s comments as a potential danger to Israel’s welfare. But such statements, however offensive, are commonplace in the Middle East and cannot be construed as a credible threat.
In fact, Iran has not demonstrated any territorial ambitions nor is it involved in the occupation of any foreign country as is true of both the United States and Israel.
Media-Hype; beating the war drums, again
The media has assumed its traditional role of fanning the flames for war by providing ample space for the spurious allegations of administration officials, right-wing pundits, and disgruntled Iranian exiles, while carefully omitting the relevant facts in Iran’s defense.
As always, the New York Times has spearheaded the propaganda war with an article by Richard Bernstein and Steven Weisman which lays out the sketchy case against Iran. In the first paragraph the Bernstein-Weisman combo suggest that Iran has restarted “research that could give it technology to create nuclear weapons.”
Perhaps, the NY Times knows something that the IAEA inspectors don’t? If so, they should step forward and reveal the facts. More likely, however, they are simply following in the tradition of mentor Judith Miller whose scurrilous front-pages articles misled the nation to war with Iraq.
There is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.
Not even George Bush would make that claim.
There’s also no evidence that Iran has the centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium to weapons-grade material. These are the two issues which should be given greatest consideration in determining whether or not Iran poses a real danger to its neighbors, and yet, these are precisely the facts that are absent from the nearly 2,500 articles written on the topic in the last few days.
IAEA chief Mohammed Elbaradei has repeatedly stated that his team of inspectors, who’ve had the opportunity to “go anywhere and see anything”, has found nothing to corroborate the assertions of the US or Israel.
On the other hand, we know that the US has developed a new regime of low-yield “usable” nuclear weapons to destroy underground bunkers. We also know that the militarists in the Pentagon have threatened to use nuclear weapons in a “first strike” preemptive attack, and that the main players in the Defense Dept. unanimously believe that nuclear weapons should be used as part of America’s strategy for global security.
Iran claims that developing nuclear weapons runs counter to their religious beliefs, while the Bush administration (as per the Nuclear Posture Review) believes that nuclear weapons are an integral part of the war on terror. Rumsfeld has even shaken up the Pentagon to further surround himself with like-minded people who support this basic thesis.
Perhaps, our fear of Iran is misplaced?
Presently, the administration is trying to bring Iran before the UN Security Council for violations that date back more than 2 years. Since then, there have been no violations and Iran has willingly complied with strict enforcement of its treaty obligations under the NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty) as well as other “confidence-building” measures which it freely accepted as a sign of good-will.
In truth, Iran is entitled to enrich uranium under the terms of the NPT and has agreed to do so in a manner that is consistent with the strict rules of the IAEA. Iran will not, however, give up its “inalienable right” to convert uranium for peaceful purposes, such as making fuel for use in nuclear power plants.
No other nation except Iran has been asked to forgo its rights under the NPT. The Bush administration expects the UN to annul parts of the treaty simply to accommodate its unfounded suspicions. But, why should Iran agree to be treated like an underling just to satisfy Bush? After all, Iran initially signed the NPT as a way of reducing nuclear weapons while Israel, the U.S., and other nations were busy building a new generation of nukes.
Besides, the conversion process takes place in front of IAEA inspectors and cameras that are set up to film the entire procedure. The IAEA is required to report any violations to the UN Security Council for punitive action. The watchdog agency was very successful in analyzing the true state of Iraq’s “alleged” nuclear program. There’s no need to suspect that they won’t succeed here as well. (Israel, Pakistan and India all avoided this regimen and developed nuclear weapons secretly)
The Last Straw
Britain’s Foreign Minister Jack Straw, who played such a critical role in disseminating the lies that preceded the Iraq war, has been equally disingenuous regarding Iran.
“For two and a half years, we’ve been working with Iran and the rest of the international community to bring Iran into compliance with its very clear obligations not to do anything that leads to suspicions they are developing a nuclear weapons capability.”
Straw knows, of course, that Iran has not violated its treaty obligations for over two years and has been in full compliance since then. His statement only confirms what reasonable people already know; Washington wants another war.
The Bush administration knows that there’s no hope of passing a Security Council resolution for sanctions against Iran. Neither Russia nor China would agree to penalties nor is there any proof of wrongdoing. The case will simply be used to increase public suspicion and fear while Israel-Washington put the final touches on their battle plans.
It is worth noting, however, that Iran will be attacked without a shred of evidence that they have nuclear weapons, a nuclear weapons program, or even a long-range plan for hostilities against the US or Israel. In other words, they are completely innocent.
Now that the administration has abandoned the internationally recognized benchmark of an “imminent threat”, it has also disposed of any other reasonable claim to justify unprovoked aggression. Iran will be attacked without pretext and without congressional or UN authorization invoking the executive authority to prosecute the war on terror by “all necessary and appropriate means”.
The determination to attack Iran goes back more than a decade to now famous policy documents (PNAC) which support the idea of integrating Iranian resources into the global system while eliminating potential adversaries of Israel in the region. This first phase is intended to defang the regime and leave it vulnerable to future invasion or regime change. The forthcoming attack will probably unfold as surgical strikes by Israel on perhaps as many as 12 facilities and weapons sites. Both Israel and the US have signaled to Iran that retaliation will escalate quickly into nuclear war. In fact, the Pentagon hawks may desire such a conflict to deter future adversaries in Latin America and Asia.
If Iran does respond with force, there’s no telling how things will play out. The markets could nosedive, the dollar could fall precipitously, and vital oil shipments could be indefinitely disrupted. (Read the business page and see how jittery many analysts are) If the conflagration goes nuclear, then we can expect that China, Russia and Venezuela will take firm steps to demonstrate their disapproval. Oil shipments from Venezuela may be cut off while China stages a destructive sell-off of its $769 billion in foreign-exchange.
Then, of course, there’s the likelihood that the attacks will draw the Iraqi Shiites into an alliance with the Sunni-backed resistance making occupation of Iraq even more tenuous. Or, perhaps the Mullahs will deploy state-sponsored jihadiis across the globe targeting American energy facilities and commercial interests. In any event, there could be hefty price to pay for Washington’s recklessness.
Whatever the cost, the attack seems likely to be carried out sometime on or before March 2006 when Iran plans to open its new oil bourse. The new exchange which directly challenges the continued dominance of the greenback in the oil trade (the largest commodity traded in the world) poses an “existential threat” to the well-being of western financial institutions and elites.
Beyond the media subterfuge of “nuclear weapons” and “non-compliance”, the empire is marching resolutely to war; voluntarily risking nuclear holocaust to preserve the system of privilege and concentrated wealth.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state.
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