Iran-US getting all ‘chatty’.

It’s difficult not to be fascinated by these developments. Over the past several years, there have been two distinct camps.

First there are the “We must talk to our enemies” people. Then there are the “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” people.

Certainly, there are a few who have held the middle ground. But it’s a precious few.

I’d be interested to hear from representatives of the two camps, now that the actions that have been so hotly contested are coming to pass.

BAGHDAD: Iran, Iraq and the United States have agreed to set up a security subcommittee to carry forward their talks on restoring stability in Iraq, the American ambassador said Tuesday at the end of a second round of groundbreaking talks in the Iraqi capital with his Iranian counterpart.

“We discussed ways forward and one of the issues we discussed was the formation of a security subcommittee that would address at a expert or technical level some issues relating to security, be that support for violent militias, Al Qaeda or border security,” the U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker, said after the meeting. The Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said officials would meet as early as Wednesday to work out how the panel will operate.

“We hope that the next round of talks will be on a higher level if progress is made,” Zebari said.

But underscoring the tensions between the two foes, Crocker reiterated Washington’s accusations that Iran is fueling violence in Iraq by arming and training Shiite militias. He warned that no progress could be made until Tehran changed its ways.

“The fact is, as we made very clear in today’s talks, that over the roughly two months since our last meeting we’ve actually seen militia-related activity that could be attributed to Iranian support go up and not down,” Crocker said, citing testimony from prisoners and weapons and ammunition confiscated in Iraq as evidence.

The Iranian ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, countered that Tehran was helping Iraq deal with the security situation but that Iraqis were “victimized by terror and the presence of foreign forces” on their territory.

He said his delegation also demanded the release of five Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq. The United States has said the five were linked to the Quds Force, an elite arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. It has accused the force of arming and training Iraqi militants. Iran says the five are diplomats who were legally in Iraq.

The meeting was opened by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who appealed for help to stabilize Iraq and warned that militants from Al Qaeda and other terror groups were now fleeing and finding refuge elsewhere.

An Iraqi official who was present at the meeting said Crocker and Qomi engaged in a heated exchange early in the talks. It began when Crocker confronted the Iranian with charges that Tehran was supporting Shiite militiamen who were killing U.S. troops, providing them with weapons and training. Qomi dismissed the allegations, saying the Americans had no proof, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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A case for attacking Iran

Here is a nice piece from the Christian Science Monitor regarding Iran.  It has some great links to further information for those of you who like to keep abreast of these developments.
By Jesse Nunes | csmonitor.com

Statements by US and Israeli officials in recent days on the possibility of attacking Iran have been met with increased posturing on both sides, warnings of retaliation from Tehran, and worries by the head of the international nuclear watchdog of a “brewing confrontation.”

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut suggested that the US should consider attacking Iran to keep them from training and supplying insurgents and foreign fighters in Iraq, as well as to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

“I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq…. And to me, that would include a strike into… over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.”

Senator Lieberman, a former Democrat who lost his party’s support before regaining his seat in Congress as an Independent, also said that if the US fails to take action against Iran, “they’ll take that as a sign of weakness on our part and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home.”

“We can tell them we want them to stop that, but if there’s any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can’t just talk to them…. If they don’t play by the rules, we’ve got to use our force, and to me that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they’re doing.”

The Financial Times notes that Lieberman appears to be the first high-ranking US politician to openly suggest attacking Iran. A White House statement addressing Lieberman’s remarks said that the US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker gave Iran a “strong message” to play a constructive role in the region during meetings last month on Iraq, and that President Bush “has made it clear we want to do everything to protect our troops,” according to the Financial Times.

In an interview with the Center For American Progress, a progressive think tank, Senator Harry Reid (D) of Nevada said of Lieberman’s comments, “I know Joe means well, but I don’t agree with him.” Reid suggested the US should listen to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and pursue diplomacy with Iraq, adding that “the invasion of [Iran] is only going to destabilize that part of the world more.”

Reuters writes that Lieberman’s comments are seen by analysts as an “escalation of official US rhetoric.”

“This takes it across the border,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“But it would not be a surgical limited strike. It could potentially escalate into a much more serious confrontation between the two countries, and if that’s the direction Lieberman wants to go, he has to be very honest about the potential pitfalls.”

Over the weekend, Israel officials indicated that a strike against Iran was an option being considered if diplomacy fails. The Associated Press reports that Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said the US and Israel would review the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran at the end of the year, and that the two allies share a strategy on dealing with Tehran.

“The strategy shared by the U.S. and Israel has three elements,” Mofaz told Israel Radio. “One is a united international front against the Iranian nuclear program. Secondly, at this time, sanctions are the best way to act against the aspirations of Iran.”

He said the third element is “a very, very clear signal and a clear statement that all options are on the table.” Mofaz added: “I never said there is no military option, and the military option is included in all the options that are on the table, but at this time it’s right to use the path of sanctions, and to intensify them.”

Ynetnews reports that Iran filed a complaint to the UN Security Council of Mofaz’s remarks, as well as similar remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which he said “it would take 10 days and 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles” to critically damage Iran’s nuclear program.

According to the Jerusalem Post, unnamed “senior American military officers” told the paper that they support military action against Iran to prevent the country from becoming a nuclear power, and that the US Navy and Air Force “would play the primary roles in any military action.”

A high-ranking American military officer told the Post that senior officers in the US armed forces had thrown their support behind Bush and believed that additional steps needed to be taken to stop Iran.

Predictions within the US military are that Bush will do what is needed to stop Teheran before he leaves office in 2009, including possibly launching a military strike against its nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, Iran has not let the increasingly hostile posturing by Israel and the US go unnoticed. Agence France-Presse reports that Gholam Ali Hadad Adel, a member of Iran’s parliament, told reporters during a visit to Kuwait on Sunday that Iran would attack US military bases in the Gulf if they were used to stage an attack on the country. Mr. Haddad Adel added that Iran’s neighbors in the Gulf had “learned many lessons from the US invasion of Iraq,” and that “officials in the region are not likely to link their fate with US mistakes” by allowing them to stage attacks in their countries. In a report on Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, Haddad Adel, after returning to Iran, added that “it is unlikely that US will try its chance in the region for the third time after its defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

AFP also reports that Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, the interior and defense minister of Kuwait, a US ally, said his country would not allow the US to launch an attack on Iran from Kuwaiti territory..

The US journal Defense News reported that former Iranian defense minister Adm. Ali Shamkhani indicated that Iran would target any Gulf states that help US in such a way.

“Allegations by some Arab gulf states that the Iranian nuclear program poses an environmental threat to the area and that it would spark a nuclear arms race are aimed at helping the U.S. establish legitimacy for its anticipated aggression against Iran,” Shamkhani said.

U.S. military action threatens Iran’s existence, he said, “but most of those who speak about the war option are well aware that Iran has the capability to face this choice.”

However, in a report by the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA), Mr. Shamkhani said that he never gave an interview with Defense News, and that “the news is fake and unreal .”

Finally, Bloomberg reports that IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said on Monday that he is “increasingly disturbed by the current stalemate and the brewing confrontation” between Iran and the West over its nuclear program, adding the situation “urgently needs to be broken” and “must be diffused.”

Bush authorizes covert ops against Iran.

US is beginning to rachet up the pressure on our buddy Pres. ImANutJob.  With violence erupting once again in Lebanon, now is the time to keep Iran in check.


Well played!!!

Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran

May 22, 2007 6:29 PM

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

Bush_authorizes_mnThe
CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert “black”
operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former
officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the
sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a
“nonlethal presidential finding” that puts into motion a CIA plan that
reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda,
disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international
financial transactions.

“I can’t confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether
the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall
American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime,”
said Bruce Riedel, a recently retired CIA senior official who dealt
with Iran and other countries in the region. 

Click Here to See Photos of the Players in Another Iran Operation — the Iran-Contra Affair: Where Are They Now?

A National Security Council spokesperson, Gordon Johndroe, said,
“The White House does not comment on intelligence matters.” A CIA
spokesperson said, “As a matter of course, we do not comment on
allegations of covert activity.”

The sources say the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year
and received approval from White House officials and other officials in
the intelligence community.

Officials say the covert plan is designed to pressure Iran to stop
its nuclear enrichment program and end aid to insurgents in Iraq.

“There are some channels where the United States government may want
to do things without its hand showing, and legally, therefore, the
administration would, if it’s doing that, need an intelligence finding
and would need to tell the Congress,” said ABC News consultant Richard
Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official.

Current and former intelligence officials say the approval of the
covert action means the Bush administration, for the time being, has
decided not to pursue a military option against Iran.

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Iran defiant in facew of more sanctions.

Oh that’s nice.  An emerging nuclear power declaring enemies.

Tehran, Iran (AHN) – Notwithstanding the
prospectus of a third round U.N. sanctions, Iran Thursday reiterated
its decision to continue with the nuclear program which would help it
become a world power.

Addressing group of Revolutionary Guards,
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “The enemy wants Iran to
surrender so it won’t have any say in the world. If we stop for a
while, they will achieve their goals.”

Ahmadinejad said by
thwarting his country’s exploitation of “peaceful nuclear technology,”
the enemies try to strike at the source of “Iran’s progress.”

Ahmadinejad
statement comes at a time when the U.S. and its allies are mounting
pressure on the U.N. Security Council to impose tougher sanctions on
Iran in the wake of the U.N. nuclear watchdog report earlier this week
that Iran has made significant progress in its uranium enrichment
program.

Though Iran insists the enrichment is for power
generation, the scale of the program has cast suspicion among Western
countries that it could lead to produce weapon-grade material.

Iran has already come under two rounds of sanctions by the U.N. for defying its order that Iran halt its enrichment program.

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Change of Plans for “The Surge”.

Short-Term “Surge” May Be Long-Term, Pentagon Said To Prepare Extended U.S. Troop Buildup, Unless Iraqi Leaders Fail To Meet Security Targets – CBS News
(CBS/AP) The Pentagon is laying the groundwork to extend the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq. At the same time, the administration is warning Iraqi leaders that the boost in forces could be reversed if political reconciliation is not evident by summer.

This approach underscores the central difficulty facing President Bush. If political progress is not possible in the relatively short term, then the justification for sending thousands more U.S. troops to Baghdad — and accepting the rising U.S. combat death toll that has resulted — will disappear. That in turn would put even more pressure on Bush to yield to the Democratic-led push to wind down the war in coming months.

If the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki does manage to achieve the political milestones demanded by Washington, then the U.S. military probably will be told to sustain the troop buildup much longer than originally foreseen — possibly well into 2008. Thus the early planning for keeping it up beyond late summer.

More than half of the extra 21,500 combat troops designated for Baghdad duty have arrived; the rest are due by June. Already it is evident that putting them in the most hotly contested parts of the capital is taking a toll. An average of 22 U.S. troops have died per week in April, the highest rate so far this year.

“This is certainly a price that we’re paying for this increased security,” Adm. William Fallon, the senior U.S. commander in the Middle East, told a House committee Wednesday. He also said the United States does not have “a ghost of a chance” of success in Iraq unless it can create “stability and security.”

The idea of the troop increase, originally billed by the administration as a temporary “surge,” is not to defeat the insurgency. That is not thought possible in the near-term. The purpose is to contain the violence — in particular, the sect-on-sect killings in Baghdad — long enough to create an environment in which Iraqi political leaders can move toward conciliation and ordinary Iraqis are persuaded of a viable future.

So far the results are mixed, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week during a visit to Iraq that he wants to see faster political progress by the Iraqis. “The clock is ticking,” he said, referring to the limited time the administration can pursue its strategy before the American public demands an end to the war.

Gates also said he told al-Maliki that the United States will not keep fighting indefinitely.

Iran to build 2 nuclear power plants

More developments in the Iranian Nuclear program.

Iran to build 2 nuclear power plants – Yahoo! News

 

TEHRAN, Iran –

Iran

said Sunday it is seeking bids for the building of two more nuclear power plants, despite international pressures to curb its controversial program.

Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh, the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in charge of power plants, said the plants would be light-water reactors, each with the capacity to generate up to 1,600 megawatts of electricity.

Each plant would cost up to $1.7 billion and take up to 11 years to construct, he told reporters during a news conference at his office.

The country has been locked in a bitter funding dispute with Russia, which is building Iran’s first nuclear power plant near the southern city of Bushehr.

Russia delayed the launch of the plant, which had been set for September, and refused to ship uranium fuel for the reactor last month as earlier planned, citing Iran’s payment arrears. Iranian officials denied any payment delays under the $1 billion contract, and accused Russia of caving in to Western pressure.

Iran is already building a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor in Arak, central Iran, based on domestic technology. It is also preparing to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhovin, in southwestern Iran.

Fayyazbakhsh said the two new plants would be built near Bushehr. He also said he planned to travel to Russia next week to try to ease tensions and get the first Bushehr plant back on track.

The bids for the two plants, which will expire in early August, have been published on the nuclear organization’s Web site. Iran has already negotiated with several foreign companies that have expressed interest in the new project, Fayyazbakhsh said. He declined to name the companies.

U.S. Won’t Release 5 Iranians Held in Iraq

A nice update from the fellas at ‘The Muslim Question‘. Thanks guys!

U.S. Won’t Release 5 Iranians Held in Iraq « tmq2

 

In a move likely to irritate Tehran [like we give a shit], the government has decided not to release five Iranians captured in Iraq, a newspaper reported on Friday.

The Washington Post said that after intense internal debate, the Bush administration had decided to keep the Iranians in custody and make them go through a periodic six-month review process used for the other 250 foreign detainees held in Iraq.

The next review is not expected until July, the newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying.

Washington says the five, seized in a January 11 raid by U.S. forces in the Kurdish city of Arbil, are linked with Iranian Revolutionary Guard networks involved in providing explosive devices used to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. Iran says they are diplomats and has demanded their release.