Pentagon Corrects Panetta's Lies about Iran; Tehran Invites Inspectors to Visit
December 24, 2011
Patrick J. Buchanan / Anti-War.com & The Daily Times of Pakistan
After Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CBS that he believed Iran "could have a nuclear weapon" in "about a year … perhaps a little less," the Pentagon rushed forward with a correction: "We have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon." Meanwhile, Iran has announced that it is ready to discuss international nuclear concerns and has invited foreign inspectors to visit in January. US diplomats dismissed Iran's offer as "charm offensive."
Make Congress Vote on War on Iran
Patrick J. Buchanan / Anti-War.com
WASHINGTON (December 23, 2011) -- Returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dropped some jolting news. Asked by CBS's Scott Pelley if Iran could have a nuclear weapon in 2012, Panetta replied: "It would probably be about a year before they could do it. Perhaps a little less. But one proviso, Scott, is that if they have a hidden facility somewhere in Iran that may be enriching fuel."
Panetta was saying the mullahs are a year or less away from an atom bomb and, if they have a hidden site for enriching uranium to weapons grade, they may be even closer.
"That is a red line for us," Panetta added. "If we get intelligence they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps necessary to deal with it." Panetta is raising the specter of preemptive war.
When Pelley's report hit, however, the Pentagon immediately began to walk the cat back.
"The secretary was clear that we have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon," said Pentagon press secretary George Little. "He [Panetta] didn't say that Iran would, in fact, have a nuclear weapon in 2012."
Little added that UN inspectors remain in Iran and have access to its uranium stockpile, and should Iran attempt a "breakout" by diverting low-enriched uranium to a hidden facility to convert it to weapons grade, UN inspectors would instantly detect the diversion. "We would retain sufficient time under any such scenario to take appropriate action," said Little.
In short, the Pentagon does not believe Iran has made a decision to build atomic weapons, and the department is confident that, should it do so, the United States would have ample warning.
Little's definitive statement, "We have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon," coincides with the consensus of all 16 US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, in December 2007.
In that report, the entire US intelligence community stated unanimously, with "high confidence," that Iran had given up its drive for an atom bomb back in 2003.
Yet the Pentagon's categorical statement this week, and the 2007 declaration by the entire US intelligence community that Iran abandoned its bomb program in 2003, raises a question.
How could the International Atomic Energy Agency conclude, as it did last month, that Iran "has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device"? Did the IAEA discover clandestine bomb-building that our own intelligence community failed to detect?
If Iran is doing experiments consistent with building an atomic bomb, as the IAEA reports, why does the US intelligence community not revise and update its 2007 report? Why are CIA and DIA silent?
This is no minor matter. For not only have Panetta and Barack Obama talked about "all options on the table" regarding Iran -- i.e., we do not rule out military strikes -- so, too, have the GOP presidential candidates, save Rep. Ron Paul.
Sen. Rick Santorum says we are already at war:
Iran is a country that has been at war with us since 1979. ... The Iranians are the existential threat to Israel.
In fierce rebuttal to Paul's suggestion that the real threat to America is being stampeded into a new war, Rep. Michele Bachmann retorted:
We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the map. … The Iran constitution ... states unequivocally that their mission is to extend jihad across the world and eventually to set up a worldwide caliphate.
But is all this consistent or credible?
If Iran is an "existential threat" to Israel and intends to use a bomb it is now building on Israel, why have the Israelis, with 200 to 300 nuclear weapons, who have bombed both Iraqi and Syrian nuclear sites, not removed that "existential threat" themselves?
Second, assume the Bachmann horror scenario that we know "beyond the shadow of a doubt" that Iran, as soon as it gets the bomb it is building, will use it on Israel. If that is so, who does Bachmann think will then be establishing that caliphate in an Iran that an Israeli retaliatory strike will have reduced to atomic ash?
Lest we forget, the Israelis are a "Never Again!" nation.
And there is another serious matter here. While Obamaites, neocons, and Republicans are talking about "all options on the table," the war option, if we still have a Constitution, cannot be used against a nation that has not attacked us, unless Congress, which alone has the power to declare war, has authorized military action.
When did Congress tell Obama or any president he can bomb Iran as soon as he concludes Iran is building a nuclear weapon? If, after leaving Iraq, we are going into yet another war of choice, let the Congress debate and vote on this new war with Iran.
Copywright 2011 Creators.com
Iran Says UN Nuclear Agency Could Visit in January
The Daily Times of Pakistan
VIENNA (December 23, 2011) -- A team of senior UN nuclear officials could visit Iran in January, the Islamic state's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency has told Reuters. Ali Asghar Soltanieh said on Tuesday that Iran had renewed an invitation for an IAEA team to travel to Tehran and he suggested Iranian officials would be ready to discuss international concerns about the country's nuclear programme.
He later gave further details in an interview with Reuters television on Wednesday evening, saying preliminary arrangements for the visit would be made in the first week of January. "Any time after that, after the composition of the team is finalised, they are welcome to come. Therefore I assume that perhaps in January this visit will be made," Soltanieh said.
Iran's latest overture to the Vienna-based UN agency, which has long urged Tehran to address disputes about its nuclear agenda, coincides with a sharpening of international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear work. Western diplomats tend to see such invitations as attempts by Iran, a major oil producer, to buy time and ease international pressure without heeding UN demands to curb activity that could be put to making atomic bombs and to be transparent about its program to ease misgivings about it.
One Western envoy this week dismissed Iran's new offer of talks as part of a "charm offensive" without any commitment from Tehran "to talk substance". Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for peaceful purposes but its foes suspect this has military aims. Western fears that Iran is seeking to develop atomic bomb capability were reinforced by a Nov. 8 IAEA report that said Tehran appeared to have worked on designing a nuclear weapon.
Suspicions have been stoked by Iranian secrecy and lack of full cooperation with inspectors from the IAEA, whose job is to verify that countries' nuclear activities are peaceful. Iran says its nuclear work is a peaceful bid to generate electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas. Iran initially invited Herman Nackaerts, IAEA deputy director general and head of nuclear safeguards inspections worldwide, in October. But Iran's angry reaction to the agency report the following month threw those plans into doubt.
Previous visits to Iran by senior IAEA officials have failed to make significant progress towards resolving the long-running row over Iran's nuclear programme, a dispute which has the potential to ignite a wider conflict in the Middle East. IAEA inspectors monitor Iran's declared nuclear sites but their movements are otherwise restricted. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has made clear that any new visit by his senior officials to Tehran must address the agency's growing concerns about potential military dimensions to the nuclear program.
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