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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Deadline for Iran?

US State Department official William Burns sat in on 'negotiations' with Iran over its nuclear program in Geneva on Saturday. But the results may not have been exactly what the Ahmadinejad regime had in mind.
Major powers gave Iran two weeks to answer calls to rein in its nuclear programme on Saturday or face tougher sanctions after talks ended in stalemate despite unprecedented U.S. participation.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Washington hoped Iran now understood that it had a choice between cooperation and "confrontation, which can only lead to further isolation".


"There is nothing more to talk about. The Iranians are running the risk of foreclosing their options," said one diplomat in Gevena, warning they risked "going down the path which means further measures in the EU and the U.N."

[European Union foreign policy chief Javier] Solana said he hoped for more contacts with Iran "telephonically or physically", but officials made clear that any subsequent contacts would be at a lower level than Saturday’s talks.


In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "We hope the Iranian people understand that their leaders need to make a choice between cooperation, which would bring benefits to all, and confrontation, which can only lead to further isolation."
So far, the Iranians have not flinched.
Asked by Reuters if Tehran would consider a demand to suspend enrichment as a precondition for full negotiations on its nuclear programme, [Iran's chief nuclear negotiator] Saeed Jalili said: "We will only discuss common points of the package."

In a bid to kickstart those negotiations, world powers have also proposed that Tehran first freeze expansion of its nuclear programme in return for the U.N. Security Council halting further sanctions measures.

But a senior Iranian diplomat ruled that out too.

"Of course we will not discuss the freeze-for-freeze topic in the next meeting with Solana ... The freeze-for-freeze issue cannot be accepted because this (enrichment) is our right and we will never abandon our nuclear right.

The high-level U.S. participation in the meeting, together with Iranian comments playing down the likelihood of an attack by the United States or Israel, had earlier in the week raised hopes of progress and helped lower oil prices from record highs.

Yet that optimism was tempered even before the meeting as both the United States and Iran insisted their policy would not change.
On Friday, the New York Times published an editorial by Benny Morris, who for many years claimed that Israel had expelled 'Palestinians' from our country (a claim he has since retracted in part), which said that the best result that the world could hope for was a successful Israeli attack using conventional weapons against Iran's nuclear installations.
ISRAEL will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.
In the weekend JPost, Caroline Glick argued that the US has given Israel an open door to attack Iran, and that all Israelis (and maybe even the entire world) can only hope and pray that we have a government that will take advantage of it.
A nuclear-armed Iran would place the US military's hard-won victories against Iranian surrogates in Iraq and its tentative success in separating Iraq's Shi'ite leaders from Teheran in jeopardy. So, too, given Iran's increasingly active support for the Taliban, an Iranian acquisition of nuclear capabilities would cast doubt on America's ability to defeat the resurgent Taliban.

The US's economic well-being would also be endangered by a nuclear-armed Iran. Teheran has repeatedly threatened to attack Saudi oil platforms and endanger the oil shipping lanes in the Straits of Hormuz. And a nuclear arsenal would give Iran unprecedented power to dictate price-setting policies for the OPEC oil cartel.

Beyond all that, a nuclear-armed Iran would directly threaten US territory in two ways. First, there is no reason not to think that Teheran would use Hizbullah cells in the US to detonate nuclear devices in US cities. Iran has already shown a willingness to use Hizbullah to carry out terror attacks in the West - most spectacularly in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Second, it is widely feared that Iran is developing the capacity to launch an electromagnetic pulse (or EMP) attack against the US mainland. An EMP attack is conducted by launching a nuclear bomb into the atmosphere above a country. It needn't actually hit the country. Simply by detonating a nuclear device at sufficiently high altitude, an EMP attack can destroy the electrical grids, communications systems and military-industrial foundations of a society. Such an attack would set the US back a hundred years.

Fears of an EMP attack against the US were sparked last week by Iran's test of an advanced version of its Shihab-3 ballistic missile. The day of the missile test, William Graham, who heads a congressionally mandated commission on the EMP threat to the US, gave testimony on the issue to the House's Armed Services Committee. Graham explained that Iran has already conducted missile test from ships in the Caspian Sea. If it acquires nuclear weapons, it will apparently have the capacity to launch a nuclear warhead capable of carrying out an EMP attack against the US from a freighter in international waters off the US coast.

While any of these threats would be sufficient to justify a preemptive attack against Iran's nuclear installations, the US still has a reasonable excuse for not conducting such an attack: Iran has made clear that if it acquires nuclear weapons, the US will not be Teheran's first target. Israel enjoys that distinction.

And since the US is Iran's second target, the Bush administration has made clear that if Iran attacks Israel, the US will launch an attack against Iran. That is, the US will fight to ensure that Iran won't be able to attack it if America moves to the head of Iran's target list. But as long as it's only No. 2, it will take no action.
Read the whole thing. I have the same fear that Glick does: That the Olmert-Barak-Livni-Yishai government is too weak to pull the trigger unless they are guaranteed success.


At 11:27 PM, Blogger dentate said...

You mean the way they were guaranteed success in Lebanon?

At 8:25 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - this government of cowards was given a green light by the U.S to finish off Hezbollah in Lebanon and they bungled the opportunity to do so. Its not at all clear whether they do the same thing again if the U.S gave Israel another green light opportunity and given the type of morally depraved people running the country, I can image they're not the type that Israelis associate with the words, honor, courage and valor. Not after what happened this past week.


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