Iranians Break Open the Seals

Things keep slowly ratcheting up with Iran. The NYT reports that:
Iran broke open internationally monitored seals on at least three of its nuclear facilities on Tuesday, clearing the way for uranium enrichment activities that Europeans and Americans say are a crucial step toward making a nuclear weapon. [...] the United States and its European allies condemned the action and stepped up a campaign to persuade the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions, perhaps by the end of the month.
"The Iranians have behaved so remarkably badly, it's hard to believe that the international community will do anything other than put them in front of the ultimate court of international public opinion," a European diplomat said, referring to the Security Council. "That is where the Iranians are heading." The official did not want to be identified by name or country to preserve a united front with his European colleagues. President Jacques Chirac of France criticized Iran's action as a grave error, and the new German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Iran was sending "very, very disastrous signals."
But who is going to put sanctions on who? Last time Iranian oil production dropped sharply, it created the worst oil shock the world has seen.

Iranian Oil Production. Click to enlarge. Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2005.

I'm becoming more convinced that some form of military action against Iran is coming.  Most likely with an Israeli attack, because then the US can get involved without all the icky coalition building.  I think it will be a complete disaster, and spiral way out of control.  The Iranians are just not playing ball, and I don't think they're likely to, as they've probably concluded that nothing they do to appease us will work.  
The Iranians seem to be doing everything they can think of to provoke the US, and I can't help thinking that they're deliberately trying to draw the US into something unpleasant. I wonder what they've got up their sleeves - something cooked up with Russia and/or China perhaps? The potential for something to spiral of out control seems quite high.
Iran now has many ties with China over oil, and China sits on the Security Council, so it could block UN action against Iran. A little something up their sleves, yes. (Fortune magazine had an article several months ago on the growing China - Iran ties and even had a picture of the first Chinese resteraunt in Tehran).

Juan Cole mentioned in his 2006 predictions:

3. Iran's clerical elites will use the $36 billion windfall from high petroleum prices to strengthen their military and security forces, and to spread their radical Khomeinist form of Islam. The US, even if it takes some desperate step, will prove unable to shake the regime in 2006.
  1. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization composed of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as members and India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan as observers, will follow up on its success in getting US troops out of Uzbekistan and on strengthening energy cooperation between Kazakhstan and China on the one hand, and Russia and Kazakhstan on the other, as well as security cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan. The conjuncture of gas, petroleum, Islam, terrorism and great power jockeying will keep the new Great Game going, this time with Russia, China and the United States all playing. The US hand is weak.
  2. The US attempt to isolate Iran by putting boycotts on Chinese and other companies that deal with it will only prove effective for those companies that do a lot of business with the US. Moreover, it is easy enough for a company to hive off a de facto subsidiary to deal with Iran (ask Bechtel and Halliburton). And, rising powers like India that have relatively little trade with the US will tempted to choose energy from Iran over good diplomatic relations with the US.
  3. The United States will continue to lose global political influence because its government is running large deficits and going ever deeper into debt. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower routinely used the threat of calling in loans from war-devastated Europe to get his way. He threatened UK Prime Minister Anthony Eden with loan cancellations if the latter did not get back out of the Suez in late 1956. He threatened DeGaulle with loan cancellations if the latter didn't get France out of rebellious Algeria before it went Communist. Nowadays the US is a massive debtor nation, and has lost that kind of leverage with all but the poorest and most beaten-down countries. The US nuclear arsenal is relatively useless because it cannot actually be used, and the US military is bogged down in Iraq. America remains a superpower for the third and fourth worlds, but is often a helpless, pitiful giant as far as places like Western Europe and China are concerned.

[Caveat emptor: The author, a historian, has a fair amount of expertise with the past, but knows nothing out of the ordinary about the future.]
So just how could China call back it's "loans" and what makes you think it wouldn't hurt them more than the US?

China holds US treasury bonds with long durations. There is no way to call them back. If a bank gives you a cheap fixed interest 30 year mortgage, they don't have you over a barrel. China would have to sell the bonds to someone else at a loss. Their asset base would decrease and their currency would increase  killing both their export machine and ability to fund any adjustments.

Secondly, China would get hurt much worse in a currency battle with the US. The debt is in US dollars, giving the US to inflate out of the problem to some degree by printing whatever money the Chinese need and buying the bonds back. Sure it would hurt the US, but it would ruin the Chinese. Current Chinese leaders don't fancy the idea of hiding in the basement of the million dollar villas while the angry peasants tear then to shreads.

The Chinese hold US dollar assets because they need to, not because they are nice. As Nixon's treasury secretary said: ``It's our currency, but it's your problem.''

Hi Jack.

Since you seem to understand more of these issues than me, what would be the case if China exchanged those long term US bonds for another foreign corrency assets? That would keep their currency low, would't it?

Hi lads,

If they shifted reserves into another currency, it would tend to move the Yuan even lower versus that currency (or currencies), but it would still rise against the dollar. For this reason, I believe that China will not significantly reduce its dollar holdings.

By the way, I do think the current administration is fiscally irresonsible and that this does place the US and world economies at risk. My point is that the US-China trade and currency balances are complex and a two way street. It is inaacurate to claim that China holds a gun to the US's head (and maybe even to claim that China has the stronger position, although this is less clear). Actually, I think that if China sold bonds, Europe might have to buy them as a sky high Euro wouldn't help them much either.

I do think that the only way that China will significantly reduce US dollar holding is in a crisis, "bank run" scenario and that is will be disasterous for all concerned. Similarly, I do not think China would silently support Iran in antagonizing the US with the hope of a war. Their economy is too fragile and depends on growth.

Again, I do think that the current US administration is playing a riskier game than I am comfortable with. However, the analogy that I use to describe the risk is like someone crossing the street at 5am with a blindfold on. The chances are probably pretty good that nothing happens and it all works out. That doesn't mean their street crossing policy isn't idiocy.

It is also worth remembering China is the sole creditor to the US. A massive world economic correction is coming, thats for sure.
is an interesting article about real estate in Shanghai, i think given all the factors we are just in the calm before the storm which could hit either this year or next.

I believe Iran is well within its rights to do everything it is doing. You may not agree with it. But you have to respect Iran as a serious player in the middle east, as do the rest of the world. the EU and US need to get their head around the fact Iran WILL enrich uranium and they will not change their mind on the issue.

"China is the sole creditor to the US"?  Huh?  Japan holds more US treasury securities than China, by more than a factor of 2.

For a country breakdown, see:

hehe bad typo was meant to be 'China isn't the sole creditor' but im sure you guessed that ;)

As you say Japan holds close to 1 trillion in US debt :S

The immediate risks of a US military strike against Iran are indeed high, but so are the longer term risks of failing to prevent wide spread nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  If Iran gets the bomb, others will surely try to as well.  How secure will the world be post oil peak  when all the major players - Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iran - have nuclear weapons pointing at each other and at Israel?  
About as secure as the world is today: Pakistan, India, North Korea among several other nations have nukes.

I respectfully disagree.  Given that risk is a product of two factors - the probability of harm and the severity of harm the risk to the world is much greater with nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  The probablilty of harm is much greater because there are more potentially unstable actors involved and the severity of potential harm to the world is beyond catastrophic.  A nuclear war there would suddenly deprive the world of 60% of it's oil and lead to total global economic collapse.
Thanks Jack.
I think that if China sold bonds, Europe might have to buy them as a sky high Euro wouldn't help them much either.

I guess that's it. This Status Quo is better for everyone.

China closing to Iran is not primarily an anti-US move. I think their main reason is to take over the oil bought from Iran by their arch-rival Japan.

"Their asset base would decrease and their currency would increase..."
As long as asset base decreasing - this will cost them much less then confronting US military. And the results for USA will be thousand times more devastating than for China. USA can not live without creditors; China can perfectly live without debtors.

For the second claim - their own currency will not gain value if they simply switch to Euro assets.


You are obviously committed to believing what you want to believe. I won't pop your bubble.

If you want to put any evidence behind your assertions, we can debate them. But I guess that would take all the fun out of it.

I am not sure what evidence you would accept for a hypothetical situation. I am not saying it will happen, only that it can happen with or without China acting as a trigger.

Personally I am very much worried by the inability of the USD to beat the 1.20 mark in spite of the growing interest differential with EU. My interpretation is that the market is already well too saturated with our assets and the situation may be getting closer to the detonation point with each day passing. Meanwhile countries like Russia and oh yes China are quietly switching to euro assets to minimize the loss from a dollar depreciation. Yes it would be a lose-lose-lose thing to happen but in this case I would not rely on just that.

Start with this:

"Meanwhile countries like Russia and oh yes China are quietly switching to euro assets to minimize the loss from a dollar depreciation."

Can you provide a link or any evidence to indicate that China is actually switching to Euro assets?

I have heard comments from Chinese officials that they might look to diversify their asset base. The most substantial appeared to be a plan to invest in oil, although the statement was clear that this was an idea for the future, not an actual activity. I know that the end of M3 measurement could possibly make this harder to evaluate.

But I think your assertion is just plain wrong and would like to hear why you think differently.

You are right about China swithing, I had read some of the same comments and hurried to extrapolate their words in actions.
Nevertheless it is obvious that they have been planning for that for a long time and pegging the yuan to a basket of currencies istead of USD alone was the first step of it. They will surely try to do it incrementally not to shake the market but I am not sure this will be a safe play in the current situation.

Let's go back to the beginning - you are claiming they will not do it because they will lose the value of their assets; That one is true but there are also other truths around.
My claim is they can do it and are in fact positioning themselves for such an option especially if USA endangers their energy supplies. In such case the loss of value will be a minor price for the resulting effect especially if they play their cards well.

Unluckily I don't see a fruitful outcome from such an argument - there are too many ifs and subjective judgements here. And it's already becoming too late at my longitude...
Have a nice one.

I don't see the US-China relationship as heading inexorably towards violent conflict. In fact, I believe that China needs stability to continue their immensely successful program of lifting a large number of their people out of poverty.

I contend that the capital loss in China's asset base is an important, although maybe not primary, reason for their inability to convert assets out of dollars and into Euros or any other currency. The primary, or at least immediate, urgency is exchange rate maintenance. Contrary to your claim above, if China converted dollar assets into Euro assets, the Yuan would lose value against the Euro and gain against the dollar. Again, I suspect the ultimate result would be Euro nations purchasing the discounted bonds to maintain their exchange rates.

Debt is not the same thing for individuals, companies and countries. Much corporate and national debt is in the form of bonds, which are purchased as investments. China has invested in US Treasury bonds that have durations of 20 to 30 years and can not be called back. The US national debt level is not unusually high by international standards. I think it is over 70% of GDP versus 130% for Japan. Theory holds that as long as the return on debt is higher than the cost of debt, debt is good.

I am not saying that I think the US is putting the debt to good use. Neither do I claim that US fiscal and trade positions don't combine to create a high level of risk. My point is that it takes two to Tango and China is Tangoing too.

Actually, debt IS debt, regardless of whether it is publicly or privately held. A dollar owed is a dollar owed.  Indebtitude. Liability. A rose by any other name....
Presently, the ratio of total US debt vs. total US annual GDP is 304%, even worse than during the Great Depression.

You might want to check out this article by UCSD physicist, Jorge Hirsch, who has extensively documented recent public changes in US policy on (our) first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries. Try here for physicist Gordon Prather's take on the state of the Iranian nuclear program. He was right about Iraq in 2002.
The President of Iran is not behaving rationally regarding  nuclear threats.  Israel has never had a better friend than George W. Bush.

I believe that President Bush can enter a war with Iran and perhaps win it more easily than in Iraq. In an ideal scenario, he has a sufficient political majority at home, and the U.S. military can employ lessons learned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It might be that a lot less force could be used to replace the head of state, and call for a popular uprising. Then make a simple fix to the Iranian constitution for a truely representative government so that the existing bureaucracy and military structure is preserved, because at the moment America is popular among many urban Iranians. Rapid free elections could be conducted followed by the phased withdrawal of American forces.  The SPR's could be drawn down to cover the loss of Iranian oil.

Actual events will differ of course, but a scenario like this could be what is planned by advisors close to Bush.  I worry about the US employing nukes.  We should get rid of all of ours unilateraly - they have no purpose that cannot be accomplished by high-tech and otherwise conventional forces.  I can imagine Islamic terrorists motivated for a millenium to retaliate against the West with their own nukes.

I agree what you say is probaly an 'ideal' scenario for the current US administration. But Iran is no Iraq or Afphanistan. Looking back over the 20th C you see America doesn't attack countries that can mount serious opposition (Vietnam/Loas/Cambodia/Cuba/Nicaragua etc).

I find it very hard to believe the US or Israel will launch a full scale war. More than likely will be isolated strikes resulting in a oil shock and could be a trigger for a much larger world financial crisis.

In regaurds to nukes, I dont think even this administration would be so foolish to use them.

Generally there has been a gradual ramp-up of anti-Iranian rhetoric, and they probably have very little to lose by unsealing their nuclear research facilities. Honestly we should SPONSOR them making indigenous nuclear power (and monitor it carefully): that way they can run their country on nukes and we can continue to liquefy and export their enormous gas reserves!

I think the decision to form their own oil bourse was the nail in Iran's coffin. It is not possible for the US to live the lifestyle we've become accustomed to unless the dollar is the exclusive reserve currency of the entire world.

We shall see! We live in interesting times. I am selfishly thankful to be past the draft age because this one's gonna be a complete bodybag/bodycount type situation (not as if Iraq isn't!).

Well, maybe, if the US would stop this incredibly stupid and self-defeating policy of regarding Iran as a rogue terrorist state and instead sit down with them and say "let's do some business", then maybe we wouldn't have this increasingly precarious situation. Bringing Iran into the world community as a bona fides member would do the whole world a lot of good.

I would remind all TOD readers that the US was the one who fucked them over to begin with a long time ago in the 1950's. When they overthrew the Shah, who was installed by the CIA, they had a revolution of independence in 1979/80--you know, like 1776, The Declaration of Independence and all that. They are an Islamic country (Persians, not Arabs) and their policies reflect that. Darius was the King of Kings (the Persian Empire) when Europeans were lucky to be eating something other than shit (~ca. 500 bc). I believe their extremist rhetoric and current actions reflect their feelings of being threatened, isolation and their own pride and self-esteem. Why not bring them in to sit at the table rather than making covert threats? Regarding their various Ayatollahs, those guys would fade into the background rapidly if the people in Iran knew there would be some bucks to be made and some prosperity. They like Disney, Coke and Britney Spears too.

And, oh, did I mention, they're sitting on a a whole lot of hydrocarbons over there and that they are geographically placed in almost the most strategic location on Earth? Screw it.
People seem to forget that the Iranians have very good reason to fear / loathe the US.  Also, they have very good reasons to want nuclear power.  Sure, they've got loads of oil, and it's more than enough for them if they're happy being a backwards, subservient colony for the western powers.  But that's not the case, as they seem to want to become an industrial nation, and they know their oil is declining.

Is there any doubt that if the Iranians had nuclear weapons now, that they'd have no real concerns about a US attack?  I'm sure they've figured that out too.  And they've got a shining example right on their border that the US is willing to make an unprovoked attack in order to secure oil.  Also, if they had nukes then their ability to mess with the southern part of Iraq would be enhanced, possibly increasing their control over those fields and therefore their power.  

I am not defending the Iranian government; they're despots - but the distortions there are not surprising given meddling you mention above.  It seems the Iranian powers-that-be thought they'd found a useful idiot in Ahmadinejad, but have since discovered that he's too much of an idiot to be useful, and is in fact dangerous.  It sounds as if they're moving to marginalize him.  I don't know why they felt so compelled to imitate the US!

I'm still wrestling with the oil bourse thing.  I tend to think it is just one issue, not the whole ball of wax, but is it enough to push us to a military move?  And with Sharon out of power, will Netanyaho win?  Of all the potential disasters we face, the issue of an attack on Iran is the one that turns my blood cold.  The first 6mo of 2006 is going to be a very dangerous time.

You say that if Iran had nukes they'd have no real concerns about a US attack. To speculate wildly for a moment (with my Machiavellian hat on), what if they already have nuclear weapons and are just biding their time before revealing the fact to the world? They've had plenty of time to prepare and must have foreseen the possibility of American aggression. To my mind, they are acting as if they have no fear of a US attack, despite the example of Iraq next door. They almost seem to be saying "Go on - make my day".

Perhaps they're waiting for the US to work itself into a frenzy before revealing that they're better protected than previously thought. Iran could announce that they've got nukes pointed at Israel, and any external threat will result in their being launched. It would be very embarassing for the US administration to make threats and then have to back down, while having its nose rubbed in its impotence. That would please Ahmedinejad no end.

Interesting, but I don't think they have 'em yet.  Short of the US using Nukes, we cannot destroy them using air power alone.  I'm not even sure we can take out their nuclear program.  Even if we could take Iran, we could not hold it.  They probably think they have the conventional military to fight us off, and they've got friends, and they've got oil.  And the Strait of Hormuz.  How strong are we?  We are vulnerable economically, and the Iraq debacle has shown there are limits to our power.  Three times the population of Iraq, and I believe they will fight.  

And if we used nuclear weapons in a preemptive strike, we would destroy any pretense of who and what we thought we were.  There would be no illusions left to cling to.  Other powers might elect to retaliate in some manner, including economically.  It is beyond imagining.

Well, it's not inconceivable, as this article (first pointed at by Old Hermit in the earlier Gaussian post) does say that the Russians have been supplying Iran with arms, and these may have included some nuclear warheads as well.

They've used a Russian rocket to launch a satellite which might have been a warning that they have some longer range launch vehicles.

This is definitely the most worrying turn to the whole Iran/US/Russia/China situation that I have seen.

Time to start building those underground bunkers!

I understood the Russians launched it for them, not that they launched it.  Just like the Russians launch satellites for the EU, etc.  

Russia Won't Block U.S. on Iran
Commitment Is Cited by Officials Pressing for IAEA Vote

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 12, 2006; Page A18

The Bush administration, working intensely to galvanize international pressure on Iran, has secured a guarantee from Russia that it will not block U.S. efforts to take Tehran's nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council, American and European officials said yesterday.

Yeah, Russia is the last one that will try to prevent us from shooting our own legs. I suspect it is quite amusing for China and Russia to watch our slow descendancy from the place of a world single superpower. Actually they don't need to do a lot, just wait and let us do whatever we're already doing.
Cumhuriyet - During his recent visit to Ankara, CIA Director Porter Goss reportedly brought three dossiers on Iran to Ankara.

Goss is said to have asked for Turkey's support for Washington's policy against Iran's nuclear activities, charging that Tehran had supported terrorism and taken part in activities against Turkey.

Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible US air operation against Iran and Syria.

Goss, who came to Ankara just after FBI Director Robert Mueller's visit, brought up Iran's alleged attempts to develop nuclear weapons. It was said that Goss first told Ankara that Iran has nuclear weapons and this situation was creating a huge threat for both Turkey and other states in the region. Diplomatic sources say that Washington wants Turkey to coordinate with its Iran policies. The second dossier is about Iran's stance on terrorism. The CIA argued that Iran was supporting terrorism, the PKK and al-Qaeda. The third had to do with Iran's alleged stance against Ankara. Goss said that Tehran sees Turkey as an enemy and would try to "export its regime."
Strictly speaking, they don't need "nukes", as we call them. All they really need are "dirty bombs" using long half life isotopes. Then they can threaten to destory their own and Iraq's oil fields with dirty bombs that would make the oil inaccessible to anyone for centuries.

According to the Huffington Post, the Saudis have done exactly this already to give pause to any country that might consider overthrowing the royal family.

I'm still wrestling with the oil bourse thing.  I tend to think it is just one issue, not the whole ball of wax, but is it enough to push us to a military move?

That's something I've asked myself too. But some quote Rumsfeld as saying "everybody wants to go to Iraq, real men want to go to Iran". That was before the Iraq war, and before anything was known about an oil bourse. So I think it doesn't matter much what they do, inasmuch as it didn't matter much what Sadam did: they've already decided they want to control the whole ME.

I still cannot believe that they are so stupid (or criminal) to do it. Why would anyone, voluntarily, precipitate the entire world in an energy crisis and recession by attacking a country and causing thousands of deaths?. Maybe they really believe they will succeed?.

And with Sharon out of power, will Netanyaho win?

I think nearly all of the Israeli political elite want to do it, so it doesn't matter whether Sharon will be in power.

The first 6mo of 2006 is going to be a very dangerous time.

I fully agree. And in contrast to the Iraq War, the world peace movement is in deep sleep mode.

One thing is clear to me. How all this turns out, will prove many things. One of them will be the credibility of people like those at globalresearch.

We'll see. End of March is the date. Fasten your seat belts.

I think it needs to be stressed that Israel has been threatening to bomb Iran's nuclear sites since at least 1995, and that it has been pressuring the US to do a Desert Storm on them since 1992, when Mossad was spreading the rumour that Iran had acquired nuclear weapons from Ukraine.  The Israeli strategy is to get the US to do the job for them as they cannot mount the kind of sustained operation that would insulate them from the retaliatory options that Iran has at its disposal.

And that's before we even take into consideration Israel's problem with identifying the correct targets to hit ( the Iranians ahve apparently been able to hide their facilities with a cloak of invisibility that defeats all attempts to locate a weapons programme ), the political-diplomatic problem of whose airspace do we violate in doing this; Israel cannot give advance warning as permission will be refused by both Saudi and Turkey, but cannot just hope to bust through without attracting attention and potentially failing in the operation before they even get in sight of their targets.

The Iraqis will never allow Israel to use their airspace and if the US were to permit it, it would simply lead to the political, and potentially, military, collapse of the US on the ground.

It's also worth noting that once you get beyond the lurid headlines in the JP, you find that Israeli military figures tend to be far more nuanced about the whole thing, and some even suggest that there is no military option actually at Israel's disposal. I think that it is politically impossible for Israel to act at this juncture - and the regime that will surface after the March election is liable to be a very weak, fractious and unstable coalition.

And in contrast to the Iraq War, the world peace movement is in deep sleep mode.
The protests around the world at the time of the Iraq war were pretty much spontaneously organized in the time frame of less than two weeks. If the US attacks Iran, there will be even more immediate reaction, and if there are even rumours of nukes being used against Iran, no US embassy in any European country will be a particularily safe place to be at. No one will want anything to do with the US if nukes are to be used. The general populace will just not tolerate any co-operation with anyone engaging in an unprovoked nuclear attack.
although ironically no one will be able to afford the gasoline to drive to DC if we do attack Iran!
Here's a couple of scenarios. I don't know if they would be described as "worst case." But they both sound pretty grim.

The author of the first article linked below, Michel Chossudovsky, is an economics professor at the University of Ottawa, and he says it's all over but the crying. The decision has been taken by the US and Israel that the attacks will go ahead at some point in the near future and everyone's just waiting now for the final superficial touch ups and wrangling at the UN to get some type of semi-legitimate cover before launching the attack.

The second article linked is by a USAF vet who has come up with what he sees as a likely scenario for how the first day of an attack would play out.  It seems pretty realistic to me, but what do I know. I am no military expert. However I do hear those Rusky Sunburn anti-ship missiles that Iran is equipped with are pretty fast and deadly.

Nuclear War against Iran

by Michel Chossudovsky

January 3, 2006

The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran is now in the final planning stages.

Coalition partners, which include the US,  Israel and Turkey are in "an advanced stage of readiness".

Various military exercises have been conducted, starting in early 2005. In turn, the Iranian Armed Forces have also conducted large scale military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf in December in anticipation of a US sponsored attack.

Since early 2005, there has been intense shuttle diplomacy between Washington, Tel Aviv, Ankara and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

In recent developments, CIA Director Porter Goss on a mission to Ankara, requested Turkish Prime Minister  Recep Tayyip Erdogan "to provide political and logistic support for air strikes against Iranian nuclear and military targets."  Goss reportedly asked " for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help prepare and monitor the operation." (DDP, 30 December 2005).

In turn, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given the green light to the Israeli Armed Forces to launch the attacks by the end of March:

All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March, 2006, as the deadline for launching a military assault on Iran.... The end of March date also coincides with the IAEA report to the UN on Iran's nuclear energy program. Israeli policymakers believe that their threats may influence the report, or at least force the kind of ambiguities, which can be exploited by its overseas supporters to promote Security Council sanctions or justify Israeli military action. (James Petras,  Israel's War Deadline: Iran in the Crosshairs, Global Research, December 2005)

The US sponsored military plan has been endorsed by NATO, although it is unclear, at this stage, as to the nature of NATO's involvement in the planned aerial attacks.

Continued at:

Chossudovsky goes on to discuss in the remainder of the article the different types of weapons that the US/Israel would likely deploy against Iran including small nukes as bunker buster warheads etc.

And then there's this:

Day One, The War with Iran

Douglas Herman (USAF Ret)


The Iranian air force, like the Iranian navy, never really knew what hit them. Like the slumbering US sailors at Pearl Harbor, the pre-dawn, pre-emptive attack wiped out fully half the Iranian defense forces in a matter of hours.

By mid-morning, the second and third wave of US/Israeli raiders screamed over the secondary targets. The only problem now, the surprising effectiveness of the Iranian missile defenses. The element of surprise lost, US and Israeli warplanes began to fall from the skies in considerable numbers to anti-aircraft fire.

At 7:35 AM, Tehran time, the first Iranian anti-ship missile destroyed a Panamanian oil tanker, departing from Kuwait and bound for Houston. Launched from an Iranian fighter plane, the Exocet split the ship in half and set the ship ablaze in the Strait of Hormuz. A second and third tanker followed, black smoke billowing from the broken ships before they blew up and sank. By 8:15 AM, all ship traffic on the Persian Gulf had ceased.

US Navy ships, ordered earlier into the relative safety of the Indian Ocean, south of their base in Bahrain, launched counter strikes. Waves of US fighter planes circled the burning wrecks in the bottleneck of Hormuz but the Iranian fighters had fled.

At 9 AM, Eastern Standard Time, many hours into the war, CNN reported a squadron of suicide Iranian fighter jets attacking the US Navy fleet south of Bahrain. Embedded reporters aboard the ships--sending live feeds directly to a rapt audience of Americans just awakening--reported all of the Iranian jets destroyed, but not before the enemy planes launched dozens of Exocet and Sunburn anti-ship missiles. A US aircraft carrier, cruiser and two destroyers suffered direct hits. The cruiser blew up and sank, killing 600 men. The aircraft carrier sank an hour later.

Continued at

I tend to wonder myself, as a previous poster mentioned, whether or not Iran, Russia, and China have some plan up their sleeve to lure the US/Israel into some type of trap by acting to provoke them into a first strike. It does seem that Iran  has been  going out of the way recently to yank the chain of both Israel and the US.

I was wondering if it was possible Russia has given Iran some type of secret, super duper, bleeding edge technology that would be effective at downing the US and Israeli aircraft including the stealth fighters and bombers. However, it's hardly likely that even if such a technology existed they could get a system like this up and operational without the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies detecting it and blowing the whistle.  So what's the alternative explanation? They're just nutso and believe Allah will step in on their side and smite the infidels? Who knows?

Here is an extract and two links to
a) The legality of Iran's nuclear action and
b) An imminent (and probably nuclear) attack on Iran.

The extract below is from an article by a Professor Petras, a retired Sociology prof at NYU.  Full article is at

"..Israeli intelligence has determined that Iran has neither the enriched uranium nor the capability to produce an atomic weapon now or in the immediate future, in contrast to the hysterical claims publicized by the US pro-Israel lobbies. Mohammed El Baradei, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspected Iran for several years, has pointed out that the IAEA has found no proof that Iran is trying to construct nuclear weapons. He criticized Israeli and US war plans indirectly by warning that a "military solution would be completely un-productive".
More recently, Iran, in a clear move to clarify the issue of the future use of enriched uranium, "opened the door for US help in building a nuclear power plant". Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, stated "America can take part in the international bidding for the construction of Iran's nuclear power plant if they observe the basic standards and quality" (USA Today, Dec. 11, 2005).
Iran also plans to build several other nuclear power plants with foreign help. This Iranian call for foreign assistance is hardly the strategy of a country trying to conduct a covert atomic bomb program, especially one directed at involving one of its principal accusers.
The Iranians are at an elementary stage in the processing of uranium, not even reaching the point of uranium enrichment, which in turn will take still a number of years, and overcoming many complex technical problems before it can build a bomb. There is no factual basis for arguing that Iran represents a nuclear threat to Israel or to the US forces in the Middle East.
Scores of countries with nuclear reactors by necessity use enriched uranium. The Iranian decision to advance to processing enriched uranium is its sovereign right as it is for all countries, which possess nuclear reactors in Europe, Asia and North America. Israel and AIPAC's resort to the vague formulation of Iran's potential nuclear capacity is so open-ended that it could apply to scores of countries with a minimum scientific infrastructure.
The European Quartet has raised a bogus issue by evading the issue of whether or not Iran has atomic weapons or is manufacturing them and focused on attacking Iran's capacity to produce nuclear energy ­ namely the production of enriched uranium. The Quartet has conflated enriched uranium with a nuclear threat and nuclear potential with the danger of an imminent nuclear attack on Western countries, troops and Israel. The Europeans, especially Great Britain, have two options in mind: To impose an Iranian acceptance of limits on its sovereignty, more specifically on its energy policy; or to force Iran to reject the arbitrary addendum to the Non-Proliferation Agreement and then to propagandize the rejection as an indication of Iran's evil intention to create atomic bombs and target pro-Western countries.
The Western media would echo the US and European governments position that Iran was responsible for the breakdown of negotiations. The Europeans would then convince their public that since "reason" failed, the only recourse it to follow the US to take the issue to the Security Council and approve international sanctions against Iran.
The US then would attempt to pressure Russia and China to vote in favor of sanctions or to abstain. There is reason to doubt that either or both countries would agree, given the importance of the multi-billion dollar oil, arms, nuclear and trade deals between Iran and these two countries. Having tried and failed in the Security Council, the US and Israel would, on the scenario of the War Party, move toward a military attack. An air attack on suspected Iranian nuclear facilities would entail the bombing of heavily populated as well as remote regions leading to large-scale loss of life...."

The next link is to an article by Michel Chossudovsky published in January 2006.  Chossudovsky is a Prof of Economics at Ottawa University, Canada.  Chossudovsky details an imminent (March-April 2006)  attack on Iran.

If a retired sociology professor says it, it must be true.
I still have the hope of a nuclear attack not being the action to take. But these articles are right on the money. Oil money I say.

I still believe the Iranian Oil Burse to be the big problem, although I respect the opinions of peers like Jack.

Around here, among the left partisan people there's a growing certainty of an imminent attack.

The new iranian President's actions have to mean that he doesn't fear US. He does that either because of his allies or because of Iran's power over Hormuz, or both.

Any kind of aggression against Iran (even an embargo) will be a great disaster - maybe worse than the Iran-Iraq war.

It has to be quite a disaster to be worse then the Iran-iraq war, counted in the number of casualties.

We may disagree on the bourse, but I do share your view that the new Iranian president does not seem to fear the US, Euro or the UN. I think this is in part because of allies that can prevent UN actions. However, a bigger part to my mind is that Iran holds a lot of cards. I don't think the US can invade Iran. I don't think any kind of sanctions can work either. If anybody has the power to harm the other by sanctions, its probably Iran. A totalitarian regime in Iran can hold out on limited imports longer than the world can hold out without Iran's oil.

I think that the only way that the US/Europeans/UN can prevail is to appeal past the president to the people and former leadership, who must be pretty uncomfortable with him by now. Perhaps that why he is being hostile. If the US rattles its sabres, it presents less of a sympathetic face to Iranian and makes the "Death to America" chant sound less silly.

By the way, I also think Iran is one of the main reasons for the move to increase the US strategic reserve. I think Cheney and Co may be saying that even if they can't invade now, if Iran shuts off oil exports, we would - and have enough fuel to do it.

I suspect the opinions that offend many of us in the west are quite popular with his own people.
I'm not so sure. It certainly does not seem as if the current president sees eye to guy with the populace, or the milder mullahs he replaced. As far as I know he is still zero for three in his selection of an oil minister - none were approved by Parliment.

Clearly, he is not alone and does have a base of support, but I don't think it is that broad or deep. That is why I do think that the US and int'l community can appeal past him to the Iranian people. At the same time, the people clearly do not favor the idea of a US invasion and seem to support the quest for nuclear weapons. That is why I think it would make sense for him to lure the US into a bout of sabre rattling, which could still nationalist juices and make people rally around him.

I am not an expert on Iran and these are only guesses, backed up by a fair amount of reading. I would like to hear any other views.

Attacking Iran when oil is above $60? Wow, that would take some balls. Consider that the mere mention of these events is bullish for oil traders. If Iranian exports are halted, the sky is the limit for oil prices. There simply is no worldwide spare capacity left. Also what people may not realize is that it is not just the sudden drop in supply that will cause a price spike, but also the threat to the strait of Hormuz, destabilizing the entire ME, intervention in Iraq, etc. etc. In fact, an Israeli attack alone would probably be a disastrous mistake because it would require U.S. allowance for them to fly over Iraqi airspace. So, there is little distinction between an Israeli or U.S. attack. I believe worst-case scenario will be sanctions. Israel is not foolish enought to attack without a green light from the U.S., and the  U.S. doesn't need another Iraq to the second power (if the Iraq war by some accounts is expected to cost $1 trillion by the time its over, imagine how much a war with Iran would cost - forget the indirect costs of the increased price of oil).
Like Sina seems to be, I too am skeptical of the imminence of a US attack against Iran.  If I remember correctly, there have been "rumors of war" regarding an impending attack against Iran since near the beginning of 2004.  But so far, the rumors have all been false.  What makes the present juncture any different?  I'll believe it when it happens, not beforehand.
I'm sure my fellow TODdlers will point and laugh at me for saying this, but what the heck--it won't be the first time.

I honestly don't think the US will attack Iran unless Iran starts shooting first.  Yes, I know all about the war planning, and I know far more about the neocons' wet dreams of serial regime change in that part of the world (I'm a regular over at and as much of a political junkie as I am an energy geek).  But I think the costs in terms of oil hitting who knows how high a price, extreme friction with Russia, China, and likely the EU, and above all trying to fight a war with armed forces that have been stretched thin and abused by the Iraq debacle, would be so huge that even Bush and his minions can see it would be a Very Bad Idea.

One caveat: Before the Iraq mess started, I thought that Bush had at least the IQ of the average artichoke and wouldn't invade that country.  I was convinced that it was a bluff to get Saddam Hussein out of power, and that the rational people around Bush, like Powell, would make it clear to him what an unmitigated disaster it could turn into.

OK, this is the part where you point and laugh.

Lou, I'm not laughing, I think the same sometimes, and wonder if it's all posturing and attempts to intimidate the Iranians.  But lately I'm reading more and more stuff that adds up to it being real.  We've put in a lot of work making the case, Iran is key to so much in the ME, and our "energy plan" has so far failed utterly.  We clearly have no plan B - no solutions other than military ones.  And then there is the IOB.    

And lastly, (I too am a political junky) I really see no limits whatsoever to the lengths the neocons will go to, and no limits to the delusions.  Reasonable and rational do not seem to apply.  Truly, what will they do if they DON'T get control over Iran?  Can you imagine an emboldened Iran with control over the Southern Iraq oil too, selling energy to China but not the US - and in Euros at that?

I "won" the bet with my Dad that they'd go into Iraq - I'm hoping I don't "win" this one too.  

I would not have supported the war on Iraq no matter what Saddam had in the way of WMDs. But I was surpised that he didn't have ANY. He really did disarm. What did it get him? So there's a very big lesson there for anyone else.

It makes me want to puke when I see all the other powers pressuring Iran to refrain from processing uranium when they AND Israel got nukes up the gazoo. It's undoubtedly US pressure: you want some of the oil and gas too, don't you?
The bank IS going to get robbed---might as well join in.

Iraq is proving to be indigestible. It's beyond my imagination to think what the attack on Iran will open up. And yet it is coming. Things are becoming incredibly explosive.

I think we are seeing peak oil in action.   In spite of all the denialists and lack of coverage in the media, things are going to get bad and in the short term.  Kiss your affordable gasoline and consumer economy goodbye.  An attack on Iran would be proof of total desperation brought about by the absence of any substitutes for cheap oil and gas from the middle east.

Tar sands and alternative energy sources are just developing too slowly to keep the system afloat.  If the economy enters a serious depression development of these sources will stall, thereby prolonging the depression.  This nightmare scenario must be driving the decision makers mad.

This is just part of the normal rotation right?

122nd Fighter Wing to leave in the wee hours
From staff reports

Members of the Fort Wayne-based 122nd Fighter Wing are scheduled to leave for Southwest Asia about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday from the unit's headquarters on Ferguson Road. It represents the wing's largest single deployment since it was called to Chambley, France, in 1961 during the Berlin Crisis. This deployment is in support of ongoing operations in the U.S. Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) area of responsibility, which includes Southwest Asia. The unit will deploy fighter pilots, as well as maintenance and support personnel.

If I was an Iranian I would want some nukes. What Iraq and North Korea prove is if you dont have any WMD's you had darn well better get some. The US and the coalition of the but kiss wouldent have messes with Iraq if it had a couple of nuke's.
Sorry for double dip--but I also wanted to say that those who think rationality will prevail, that Iran won't get attacked, are, I think, overlooking a thing or
two. Remember the plan for Iraq---shock and awe---everyone would see and draw the appropriate lesson. Well, that totally failed and the world sees the Empire bogged down and are taking advantage of it to shamelessly pursue their
own interests.

So now there are two ways for the empire to go: one is reverse. But this would promote further shamelessness and cause the current crew to go down in flames. I don't think they are willing to go down in flames. I think they would rather risk that we all go down in flames. From their point of view, there really is no way out but to raise the ante. And it can't be raised with troops. It has to be nuclear. That's the tragedy that is unfolding.

Twilight - "And lastly, (I too am a political junky) I really see no limits whatsoever to the lengths the neocons will go to, and no limits to the delusions.  Reasonable and rational do not seem to apply.  Truly, what will they do if they DON'T get control over Iran?"

I tend to agree here.  I do not think the Bush administration lives in the real world.  They badly miscalculated in Iraq when they assumed the populace would be welcoming the invasion like in France in 1944.  I am sure that they could delude themselves that much the same could happen in Iran.

I think that the real problem comes later.  Assuming after whatever time the USA pulls out of Iraq the Shia majority there is then free to make alliances with the Iran Shais who are not really close however could be a lot closer as they are both on the same side of Islam.  I think that the fear is that then this would be a hostile united bloc dominating 20% of the global oil supplies and threatening the rest.  There are no guarantees that a post USA Iraq is going to be either friendly or cooperative.

The thought maybe is to take out the threat before it happens.

Maybe I am naive but I don't think the US is the only driver of events in the Middle East.  President Ahmadinejad has recently publicly stated (at least it is reported as such) that 1. The Holocaust never happened.  2. Israel should be moved.  3. Israel should be wiped out.  Oil is certainly a secondary concern when the Israeli military ponders the consequences of a nuclear armed Iran in the near future.  As other writers here have menioned Ahmadinejad almost seems to be taunting Israel.  Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said concerning the Iranian statements. "Thank God Israel has the means at its disposal to bring about the downfall of this extremist regime in Iran. There will be no second `final solution'."  I'm not sure what that means but this situation is getting a little scary.  
I've spent the last two years watching Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and other countries who feel threatened by the Neocons making a series of economic and military alliances. I believe they have a plan in place if Iran is attacked, and that's why I believe Iran has been trying to taunt the U.S./Israel into attack.

Iraq was the sucker punch that opened the resource war, but it was only chapter one, the first battle. When the U.S. got bogged down, the other countries had a chance to develop their counter-strategy.

I think the response will be much more sophisticated than simply blocking the Gulf of Hormuz; I think it will involve an economic and energy strangulation of the U.S.

We would definitely see gasoline and food rationing in the U.S. while the war raged. I'm not confident we would survive.

Another piece of evidence to support the thesis of an impending attack on Iran is that a month ago without explanation the Federal Reserve announced that as of March 23 of this year they will no longer publish M3 statistics.

This was truly a WTF moment, but given the background of a massive attack on Iran and the resulting severe economic dislocations it begins to make sense.

I don't want to believe the neocons are deluded and desperate enough to undertake folly of such grand proportions, but sadly have to conclude that they are.

I agree. I'd only include the word "insane" as well.  I also believe that the whole scenario in the Middle East is not ultimately only about oil.  It's about power and money.  Implementation of an effective Bourse would release the strangle hold we have on the rest of the world.  And it would completely wreck our economy.  But more importantly, it would take away th Neocons ability to finance their adventures in World domination. Because oil would no longer be only denominated in dollars, other countries would no longer be forced to buy US treasuries.  The only thing that props up US empire is this currency / dollar illusion.  We peaked as an oil province in 1971 and replaced that with petro / dollar hegemony, and thats what the Neocons are protecting.  The Bourse is what they fear.  Saddams move to the Euro was why they invaded him.  They could have continued to buy the oil from Iraq.  It would have been cheaper than invading.  
The Wall Street Journal published a story a year or so ago regarding "hypothetical" plans for an invasion of Iran. They quoted an Army officer as saying that they were war gaming a scenario in which instead of taking over the whole country, they would just take over a portion and show what democracy could do for the country, the assumption being that the populace would then overthrow the government in the non-occurpied regions.  

Inquiring minds want to know:  what portion or portions of the country would we take over-- perhaps the oil producing regions?

My contention for some time has been that the Neocons have three goals in the Middle East--control of the oil reserves in:  Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Fact #1: Iran is the most important ally of the US in Iraq. The Teheran-controlled political forces (SCIRI and Dawa) and militias (Badr brigades) make the only important local support for the US de facto occupation regime (Kurds are in Kurdistan). But the US is turning around now and seeking contacts and a deal with the Iraqi Resistance. This would make possible to turn against Iran. This makes the things move faster.

Fact #2: Iran wanted and abetted the US invasion in Iraq. Iranians fought 8 years for the oil fields in Southern Iraq, in vain. Now they have quite strong de facto control over them. Only the Americans have to leave (or to be neutralized).

Fact #3: The Iranians do not have nuclear weapons. They don't have a real nuclear weapons program either (IAEA knows this).  So the real issue is not nuclear weapons. No bombing can destroy a non-existent program.

Fact #4: Juding from past experience it is very likely than any conventional bombing would lead to the collapse of present Iranian governement. Iran has some democracy and the president is elected. Nuclear attack could force it to surrender. Prolonged conventional bombing against civil infrastructure could make the Iranians to make concessions. But prolonged bombing would mean a prolonged oil shock and this increases the risk of a nuclear war.

Fact #5: The US don't at present have enough forces  to successfully wage a ground war against Iran or occupy it, even partially, if the Iranian government will make resistance.

Fact #5: Teheran has a plan. We don't know exactly what it is, but they have acted very boldly and consistently. They are not waiting, they are acting. They are definitely no fools. To survive in ME politics is the ultimate challenge for any politician. Also Saddam Hussein did have a functioning plan for defending Iraq, after all.

Fact #6: The conflict is pretty much unavoidable. The main factor here is Southern Iraq. It is the key. It has the most important oil fields and oil terminals. And it borders to Saudi Arabian and Kuweit oil fields. Controlling this area Iran would be in the very same strategic position the US wanted to gain by the present war. The stakes are here. The  oil shock will be seen as temporary and the high stakes will justify it.

And this is guessing: The Iranians want to provoke an Israeli attack (what a propaganda victory and pretext!) or some US hostile action. They want to get their plan going before the Iraqi Resistance and the US make a deal and the US troops in Iraq are free to turn against Iran and their allies in Iraq. The pro-Iranian forces in Iraq cannot take out the US and British bases there, but with Iranian forces they could. Fast action would be necessary to make the US surrender a fait accompli in Iraq, and to not give the Americans time to bring in reinforcements and kill masses of  Iranian-minded insurgents. A massive surprise attack could work.

But the Iranian plan may be a little less violent. Provoking an attack against themselves they would have a pretext for an oil embargo, if the attacker would be Israel, they could bring others with it, too. This would open the road towards a deal on Iranian terms. This might be an Islamic Republic of Southern Iraq allied with Iran and the Iranian national oil company controlling the oil fields. The Americans could have some isolated logistical bases in South and keep their positions elsewhere in Iraq.

There is also another scenario: The US is maybe after some kind of new Kosovo, with or without a bombing campaign. This would mean arrangements in Southern Iraq to contain the Iranian influence there. Later the US could try a regime change a la Serbia in Iran. Nice plan. Europe, China and Russia might accept it and claim some part in the occupation. But Iran is definitely not in the Balkans.

All this means that the actors probably think they can aggravate the situation and control it according their plans. This might get out of hands. The greatest risks lie here.

My guess, TI, is a sudden and sustained bombing attack on Iran coupled with a commando-style takeover of the Iranian oil fields.

They may also use some nukes to show Iran (and the rest of the world) who is boss.

A commando attack won't work. Occupation requires too many troops and Iraq teaches that the oil production will dwindle. There are very few options for the US. Iran can counter even a nuclear attack effectively by taking the fight inside Iraq.

Nevertheless the US must try. It cannot get out of Iraq unless it can compel Iran to release control there. And it must control Iran to gain reliable access to the Caspian Sea (the only sea where the US don't have any naval force), Caucasus and Central Asia. Controlling Iran will mean controlling Indian and Chinese access to oil and gas in that area. Pakistan will not needed any more to gain access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Europeans can build pipelines to ME through the future EU member Turkey. That is why EU is backing the US here.

But Russia would lose its export routes southwards and the Chinese would lose Central Asian oil. The stakes are still higher than in Iraq.

[The US] cannot get out of Iraq unless it can compel Iran to release control there.

Translation: We've got ourselves right where Iran wants us.
Correct translation. The Iranians knew far better than the US what the Iraq war was to be like. The Americans did have very little local support in Iraq and the Iranians were ready to give a helping hand. The US suppressed all anti-occupation forces and created thus a virtual political vacuum. Pro-Iranian SCIRI and Dawa filled it, and the Americans did not have much choice here.

Now the Iranians are waiting for the Americans to leave and for the final takeover. So the Americans cannot leave. But they cannot turn against the pro-Iranian forces, because all Iraq would explode then. So it makes sense to exert pressure directly on Iran. The nuclear issue is just a pretext.

From the viewpoint of a close US allie in the southern hemisphere, beside oil going to $2-300 per barrel, world trade being dislocated and maybe armed conflict between China and the US- what do you think would happen to the pro-US governments in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? A military attack on Iran, especially with nukes, is armageddon territory.
Let's assume that the Bush Administration was aware of Peak Oil from day one.  And let's assume that they made the following predictions:  (1)  the federal debt will never be repaid (as the world economy implodes) and (2)  he who controls the remaining oil reserves controls the world.

A lot of people have been puzzled why a supposed "conservative" like Bush would turn out to be one of the biggest spending presidents (if not the biggest spending) in history.  If you are convinced that you are going to file bankruptcy, why not max out the credit cards?  

By cutting tax rates and encouraging every form of federal spending known to man, Bush juiced the economy and massively expanded the deficit.   Using our good credit rating, we sucked in billions and billions of dollars in foreign capital.  

What if Bush, in effect, is using foreign capital to pay for our takeover of the Middle Eastern oil fields?  At the appropriate time, we in effect declare national bankruptcy, perhaps by inflating our way out of debt.  We would be left with control of the Middle Eastern oil fields.

I'm not saying it's ethical, but the scenario has a certain cold-blooded rationality to it, and it explains a lot of Bush's actions.

The only problem is that the US cannot even control the Iraqi oil fields at present - and it's highly doubtful that the US could muster sufficient boots to put on the ground in even a small portion of Iran and maintain them. The other thing to bear in mind is that the US is highly exposed throughout the Gulf region, and especially in Iraq, to Iranian countermeasures. If the fundamental rationale for the Iraq invasion was control of the oil and the erosion of OPEC's pricing power, then it has been a dismal failure thus far, and shows no signs of ever succeeding.

The US military may have a technological advantage over the Iranian military, but it cannot engage in war with Iran, let alone occupation of any description, without sustaining substantial casualties and eroding its capacities to fight the insurgency that is raging in Iraq. Americans don't like wars of choice that leave too many bodies behind, raise gas prices to levels never seen before and wreck the economy.

There are several reasons,why we will see an Israeli attack on Iran by March or April 2006.This attack will be supported by US Forces. Eventually US forces are going to participate.
From the Israeli point of view, there are at least six reasons why they MUST act.
  1. According to Israeli Intelligence, the Iranians will have the first weapon usable plutonium by march, as they are actually starting uranium enrichment now
  2. Iran does already have ballistic missiles,capable of reaching Israel (Schahab 3), and ist trying to buy missiles in North Korea which are capable of reaching well into western europe (BM 25)
3.The destruction of Israel is clearly the main topic of Iranian politics (just hear Ahmadinedschad). Iranian WMD are thus an existencial danger for Israel. Israels trauma is an repeat of the holocaust. So they will not even take an chance of  it happening again.
4.Israel is very small. In just three agglomerations (Jerusalem,Jaffa,Tel Aviv) live 75 per cent of the Israelian Population. So, only three even crude nuclear weapons might destroy an immense percentage of its population.
5.Its own nuclear ballistic missiles (Jericho 3) are reportedly not save against a first strike hit.To avoid a use them or loose them situation and to stay on a conventional war level, it has at all cost to be avoided, that Iran and inescapable then, other arabic nations, are deploying nuclear weapons.
6. In December, Iran bought 29 modern SAM missile systems in Russia (Tor 1). These systems will endanger the survivability of Israels attack planes. I guess that these systems will be operational in several weeks.

Therefore, Israel must attack, as long as they still have a chance to destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities. Perhaps by May the time window for an attack will  be gone. Israel attacked the Irak reactor in Osirak in 1981, and they must do it again.

I agree that, apart from Washington's plans, the Israelis have a real security concern. It's more a kind obsession. But reports of IAEA experts (which the USA will choose to ignore like they did in Iraq) say that Iran has not a nuclear program, and the CIA and Mosad know that an Iranian nuclear bomb is nowhere near in sight.

Apart from that (and the Iraq experience tells us it's true), arguments such as this:

5.Its own nuclear ballistic missiles (Jericho 3) are reportedly not save against a first strike hit. To avoid a use them or loose them situation and to stay on a conventional war level, it has at all cost to be avoided, that Iran and inescapable then, other Arabic nations, are deploying nuclear weapons.

make no sense. What's the matter if Israel's missiles are not safe against a first strike hit?. What about the US? do you think they would seat idle? It is a fact: Iranian nuclear attack on Israel-> destruction of Iran by the USA.

Preemptive war was invented by Hitler (quoting president Eisenhower). The only path out of this nuclear madness is an international agreement where it is stipulated that any country first to use nuclear bombs shall be destroyed by all other countries of the world.

It depends on whether you consider fantasy nuclear weapons, based on substantial misrepresentations of Israeli/IAEA statements to be really usable. If Iran already has nuclear weapons then this whole issue is moot. If the IAEA and other intelligence estimates are accurate, then, once the Natanaz plant is fully operational ( which would take a
minimum of 2 years ), then Iran could, if it chose to do so, produce enough HEU to make a bomb in about 6 months - that's some time in late 2008 at the very earliest.

The Iranians don't have to hit a single Israeli city as there is one target, and one target only, which would be Israal's nuclear plant at Dimona - if they were able to hit it and break the containment then you have Chernobyl
all over again, and I doubt that too many of the inhabitants of Tel Aviv would be happy with that a mere 60 miles away.....

There is no plutonium weaponisation route available to Iran at present - it would require them to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from their civilian reactors which have yet to become operational - and even if their Bushehr plant was operational and generating power, their reprocessing facility at Arak is nowhere near ready to do this anyway

The current activity at Natanz is small-scale research work in preparation for the production of LEU nuclear fuel,a nd will probably be conducted in the presence of IAEA inspectors.

I wonder what a 'terrorist' attack on US soil in the next couple of month would do to move an Iran attack forward?

It would definatley play to the advantage of the Neo-Cons to have another 9/11 type event allowing for a smoother action against Iran to take place if the population was again willing to give up and allow anything for 'safety'.

There are just too many factors converging at once. Something has to give.

I am worried about the exact same thing.

The only way the Bush Admin. could convince the already war-weary American people that an attack on Iran is necessary is for there to be another 9/11-scale terrorist attack that can be blamed on Iran.  

If such a terrorist attack conveniently occurs in say late February, then we will know for sure that the US and/or Israel has something to do with it.

I'd like to think this whole Iran thing is nothing more than a game of geopolitical 'chicken', but like most of the posters here I too am getting a queasy feeling that there is a 50/50 chance it's for real.

Notice that there's been virtually no noise out of Congress dicussing the pros and cons of an attack on Iran. It's like they are not even in the loop, or that the fix is already in and that the majority has already decided to give its tacit approval to such an attack.

The American people appear to have no say in this at all.  

Coordinating a plan by the former Soviet Republics, Russia, China, and Iran, to draw the US & Israel into a strike on Iran is as likely, as successfully herding chickens. The Iranian President is simply a nut-job trying to rally the uneducated folks of the Middle East, and causing the west as much hate as possible.
The US & Israel are simply implementing contingency plans in case of an overt offensive move by the nut-job. Even Bush knows that the status quo is as good as it can ever be. The only way the nut-job can stay in power, without a revolution, is if there is an attack by the west against Iran.
Perhaps the 'game of global chicken' is planned to be played like this by Iran:

Heated rhetoric to the point of the UN vote.  Then Iran says "Ok, fine.  We, the Iran people need energy.  We have been shipping out energy from our lands, we are now putting an end to it,   Starting today, the oil is for us, not you.  We are launching a conservation program, will be raising prices in future years to encourage efficancy with the equipment that uses the oil.  And we are freezing all nuclear activites."

Cuts the pipeline for a few days, the attack happens anyway, then Iran is able to turn up the rhetoric "They attack for oil" and "Before the unilateral attack, the leadership of Iran  had a small faction who wanted nuclear weapons for peacekeeping.  Now the people of Iran are united in the desire for the atom for peace."  (Extra bonus points to use the exact phrases of past US statesmen WRT the atom for peace.  Extra-mega bonus points to say the quotes in English during the arabic speeches)   Perhaps run some Ads on the internet, along with ads on Mexican/Canadian media as added salt to the war of words wounds.

The economic loss to the US of A, along with loosing the diplomatic war of words won't matter much to Bush and Co....but won't help the citizens of the US.

Saddam played the martyr (not to mention WANTING sanctions to end) well.   If you can't REALLY hit back (strike the mainland of the US) and can only make local trouble, what other way can you go other than 'the martyr'?

Other than 'long term contracts' to 'keep oil cheap in America' and accepting the US dollar for that oil.....does anyone see an "out" for Iran/US conflict?

More than a year ago, James Fallows wrote in the Atlantic Monthly about war-gaming possible attacks on Iran.
The gamers agreed the US (and/or Israel) could bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, but
The problem is that Iran's nuclear program is now much more advanced than Iraq's was at the time of the raid. Already the U.S. government has no way of knowing exactly how many sites Iran has, or how many it would be able to destroy, or how much time it would buy in doing so. Worse, it would have no way of predicting the long-term strategic impact of such a strike. A strike might delay by three years Iran's attainment of its goal--but at the cost of further embittering the regime and its people. Iran's intentions when it did get the bomb would be all the more hostile.

The bottom line was "You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work."

BTW, if a conventional attack on Iran's nuclear facilities released a cloud of fallout, how would our friends in, say, India feel?

There is no way diplomacy could work. Iran has no nuclear weapons program, so there is nothing to negotiate. Iraq did not have any WMDs so it was not possible to reach agreement on a non-existent issue. This was the idea, too. The Iranian non-existent nuclear weapons could be an excuse for a nuclear attack, because the US could say that Iran is not a non-nuclear country and doesn't enjoy any legal protection against a nuclear first strike. Besides the US has nothing real to offer the Iranians for a deal over Iraq.

The most interesting here are the Iranian plans. We could expect that Teheran has made its conclusions from the situation by now. Quite likely, they are sure that the US will hit them, and possibly with nuclear weapons. The might have made their mind about the unavoidability of the war. So they have the weapons, the men and the money, too. And over 100 000 US hostages at hand - the US troops in Iraq, all dependent of the logistics routes and ports of South Iraq. This is something to deter any attack.

The US is in a losing situation. But it cannot afford to lose without a fight. It did lose in Vietnam, but put up quite a fight before that, so there were no new Vietnams for a long time. I have very nasty feeling about this.

I think the Iranian leaders are crazy, like a fox.  They know that their population is very young, even by ME standards, I believe the majority of the pop is under 25.  These are young people that have only known the current regime, many of them weren't alive for the revolution.  They only know what life is like under the mullahs, and for the most part, they don't like.  The people of Iran have the most favorable opinion of the US and the West of all the people in the Muslim world.  Look at the pictures of the young women in Tehran and other cities.  They dress like Christian Amanpour, if she were they're age.  The wear a colored head scarf, nothing obstructing any part of their face, with Western clothes.  In almost every other country in that region the women are still wearing burkhas, abiyas, or traditional tribal clothing.
The last thing we want to do is to invade Iran.  Even if we just bomb them it will stitch the government and the young people together.  They will rally around the flag like we do in the US and every other country around the world.  If we want to overthrow the gov't there we should pump MTV, cutting down on some of the bumping and grinding, all over the country.  Just like Radio Free Europe, and the other Radio Stations we used during the cold war.  The good news is that many Iranians already have satellite dishes so we don't need to send any equipment for them to receive.
I think you're right. The mullahs don't care about nuclear power for electrical generation, they do want the bomb.  But, even more they want to be popular again. This is 9/11 in reverse - an unpopular regime will receive legitimacy, and authority to initiate/extend fascist/dictatorial policies, by getting attacked.  So, they are doing everything possible - pushing Israel's buttons, baiting the US, persuading Shias in Basra to attack British troops. And, it looks like it is succeeding. With time, the mullahs would implode, but Israel looks very likely to attack before elections (but not with nukes- pretty ridiculous for Israel, most vulnerable of all nations, to want to see nukes used.)

Sadly, neither Israel or our neocoms have the patience for diplomacy or satellite warfare - opportunities for a robust radio Iran have been ignored for years.

Iran breaks open the "seals"? Uh, oh...

Revelation 6 "1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. Etc."

I see a distinct relation between rising heat for impeachment and heat on Iran. Further, given the great amounts of discussion in EU and USA about needed expansion of nuclear power production, the argument about Iran not needing to develop same is null.

Observation: The Cheney/Bush cabals use of the "fear factor" to intimidate has run its course; the Iran "threat" is their last card.

Further observation: It seems like everyone here assumes USA would "win" any military engagement with Iran. This is quite wrong, which is why nuclear weapons are to be employed if things went so far.

Last: China's national security from an energy standpoint is wholly tied to Iran's hydrocarbons, which led me to presume there's a secret defense pact existing between them that likely includes Russia since a similar pact between Russia and China already exists.

The Cheney/Bush/Rumsfeld cabal have committed grave and massive war crimes; they know it, and those now calling for impeachment know it. The Rovian strategy is to create another crisis capable of trumping the now multiple challenges to the cabal's position/power. I find it dubious reasoning that attacking Iran will reinforce this. I think it quite likely to see a reversal of the "Seven Days in May" scenario, where the military unseats the president to prevent a war rather than to start one.      

I think it quite likely to see a reversal of the "Seven Days in May" scenario, where the military unseats the president to prevent a war rather than to start one.    

Speaking of military coups, whom do you want to send to the soccer stadium?  

I wouldn't class such action as a "coup." Rather, it would be an exercise in law enforcement, as when we took our oaths upon enlistment to protect the Constitution from ALL enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC. Clearly the cabal falls into the latter category. IMO, any general officer would know that military action against Iran would render Iraq as the greatest strategic mistake in US history to second place and would take action accordingly. What has been written about the forces behind Murtha's actions informs my reasoning.

Another observation: Prudence would dictate the retreat of USN assets from the Persian Gulf to a point far enough over the horizon for defense prior to any attack on Iran. Such movement couldn't be masked and would constitute a tip toward impending action; surpise is thus nullified. This of course brings forth the question: would USN assets in PG be sacrificed to achieve surprise? IMO, no, and any attempt to due so would generate a mutiny by the same forces that promted Murtha's actions. This is not to say that something won't be tried as the cabal's desperation is now very evident to close observers.    

Sorry guys, Im a newbie here and all that, but I just dont see Bush getting impeached and I have a hard time seeing a US led strike on Iran.

The US has its hands full in Iraq and isnt going to risk further political/economic capital (not to mention fracturing fragile alliances with the Shias in Iraq) by spearheading an attack on Iran. They may well allow the Israelis to do it and even covertly support such a mission, but there will have to be some 'plausible deniabilitly'  as there is no way the UN or EU will support military action.

Let the Euros handle Iran their way, if the proverbial 'mushroom cloud' comes, then the US handling of Iraq will look like genius in comparison. In the meantime, the US can continue to dominate Saudi, Kuwaiti and pretty soon Iraqi oil exports and keep working in Iraq to create a functioning democracy, which is the thing the Mullahs fear most.

"Further observation: It seems like everyone here assumes USA would "win" any military engagement with Iran. This is quite wrong, which is why nuclear weapons are to be employed if things went so far."

On what evidence do you base this assumption?

The evidence is the failed Iraq invasion.  If the U.S. can't control Iraq, how could they possibly control Iran, a very large country of 35 million people, and one with sophisticated air power and weaponry.
You mean 75 million people, right?

What the U.S. learned in Iraq is to use high-level bombing campaigns rather than invasions. All they need to do is take the oil fields, which should be easy, then bomb the rest of the country into submission.

I mean, that's what you do if morality is not a constraint.

"All they need to do is take the oil fields, which should be easy, then bomb the rest of the country into submission."

Well, this has worked fine in Iraq so far, no?
So-called low-yield battlefield nukes are the only ordnance capable of ensuring target destruction because they are hardened and underground combined with the cabal's changing of doctrine to allow their use in just such a scenario--information which is readily available in the public domian.

I might add that I taught a good number of Iranian students at the JC level and found them to be quite intelligent. Many related horrific experiences during the war with Iraq; and although they were in the USA, they showed a very high level of Iranian nationalism. Finally, like Iraqis, Iranians have a culture 5-6,000 years deep that is as close to bedrock unshakable as it gets compared to the ephemeral USA. I would project current Iranian morale to be several degrees of magnitude stronger than that current in USA.

Super War Preview

Highly amusing and also hard-hitting Jan '05 article discussing the prospect of war with Iran, focusing on the military aspects:

Regards Chris  

What are the iranians going to do?

The Iranians wouldn't use a nuke on Isreal for the same reason Pakistan and India don't nuke each other. He who nukes first faces swift retaliation from US missles. He who nukes first commits national suicide.
The plans for a US invasion of Iran are nothing but plans. The files of the Pentagon are full of plans for attacking every nation on Earth including Britain and Canada.
After being hoodwinked by stories of Iraqi WMDs the Congress and the American people just don't trust Bush and Rummy any more. The rising price of energy and GOP scandals have the White House worried that they will lose control of Congress in Nov. They failed to get Bin Laden in Afghanistan and have failed to win the peace in Iraq and Congress knows if they back another military misadventure they will fail to get re-elected.
tom deplume:
My opinion exactly: So what difference does it make if Iran has a nuc, if they used one first, Iran as a nation would cease to exist. If Israel  used one on Iran they would receive the wrath of a billion Muslims, and the US would lose most of their imports of oil. First use of a nuc by any nation is a certain invitation to their end, and possibly all of civilization. All this talk of a nuc war with Iran is so much nonsense.
The point of having nukes is not to use them, it is to deter external agression. I don't think for a moment that Iran would nuke Israel even if it could, but the threat would be enough to forestall an American bombing campaign. Even if Iran had only dirty bombs (or other unpleasant non-conventional weaponry) rather than real nuclear weapons, the threat might still be enough to protect the country from overt military action. Covert action would probably still be contemplated, but that isn't likely to make the world a safer place either, or help to maintain US access to middle eastern energy. The potential for something getting out of hand seems to be quite high.
"So what difference does it make if Iran has a nuc, if they used one first, Iran as a nation would cease to exist."  I think the situation will develop over time into a far more dangerous scenario than the above quote would have us believe.  A first strike using nuclear weapons against Israel using two or three bombs would result in the permanent destruction of that country.  The Israeli government cannot allow this to happen.  Even if someone would nuc Iran later (and this is a big if) that is of no comfort to an Israeli war planner.  Iran's present rantings about Israel's destruction are very inflammatory. I believe that it was Simon Weisenthal who, when asked what was the most important lesson he learned from the Holocaust, replied, "When someone says they plan to kill you, believe them."
"The evidence is the failed Iraq invasion.  If the U.S. can't control Iraq, how could they possibly control Iran, a very large country of 35 million people, and one with sophisticated air power and weaponry."

Define 'failure' regarding the Iraqi invasion. Do you mean the US 'failed' to invade Iraq and depose Saddam? Did the US fail at 'occupation'? Sure, there have been setbacks and diplomatic failures.. but all factions are engaging the diplomatic process as we speak. Yea, there's insurgent violence, but that =! failure. Occupation planning wasnt good at all, nor were the reasons for going to war, but its nowhere near the utter failure/disaster some people like to make it out to be.

On a further note, no one is talking about occupying Iran, just destroying their reactors. Do you think the US destruction of Iraqi resistance in the first few weeks of war was a disaster? Do you doubt the US's ability to conduct a massive aerial campaign against the reactors?

Also, like other recent posters, I dont believe the US is going to strike Iran first. I believe Bush is content to let the EU handle it, because they have no desire to fight or piss anyone off. Iran surely knows this, which is why they keep playing the EU 3 and then doing what they want anyway.

"Did the US fail at 'occupation'? Sure, there have been setbacks and diplomatic failures.. "

Boy, there are guys watching too much Fox Channel.

When who gain the last elections are the Shia religious parties and when the Iraq's government that will stay the next 4 years  will enforece the sharia (the religious law) I certainly cannot blame victory to US or to democracy.

That is a sound defeat for all accounts.

Be warned that the shia don't like the US of A. To be more exact, they problably hate the US of A (they have on old issue with Bush I and they not forget easilly). They are quiet until now, but I don't think they will be calm and quiet for long time. For now the shia think is nice see the US troops fighting their enemies the sunni. But sooner or later they will fight too, see you they need get rid from that US troops before if they want massacre the sunni.

So, HOW can you see any victory from that qaqmire at Iraq?

sorry my bad english, my native language is protuguese.

".....I believe Bush is content to let the EU handle it, because they have no desire to fight or piss anyone off....."

Oh really, since when?

Furthermore, a war with Iran, preferrable initiated as the result of a major domestic 'terrorist' attack, would satisfy any number of needs of the beleaguered Bush Admin. It would i) rekindle flagging 'patriotic' spirit among Bush supporters, ii) silence Congress into submission, iii) take attention off the debacle in Iraq, and iv) help innoculate Bush against possible impeachment action should the Democrats get back control of Congress this November.

The biggest mistake we can make is to assume that a decision to attack Iran will be made rationally through an objective analysis of the facts and a careful weighing of the risks and benefits. Just look at how the decision to attack Iraq was made.

I dont think anyone is really worried that Iran is going to launch a nuclear Shahab-3 at Israel as soon as it has a functioning warhead. The Mullahs arent stupid and they well know that it would provoke a massive nuclear response from Israel (and possibly the US) that would reduce Iran to the stone age. They dont want that.

What is far more likely and what everyone is truly worried about, is Iran covertly supplying a Hizbollah or Al Quaida with fuel rods for a dirty bomb or possibly a functioning mini nuke, or even a smaller warhead rocket-lobbed in from Gaza or Lebanon. Then, Iran has accomplished its goal and has plausible deniability- a non state actor has done the job for them. Who is Israel going to retailiate against if the bomb hits them from a Hizbollah camp in Lebanon?

"oh really, since when?"

Since Europe lost its stomach for Imperialism. Hell, Europe couldnt even deal with Kosovo (right in their backyard) without Clinton's help. Do you really think the EU 3 would use force against anyone in non compliance with the UN? Doubtful, since their force projection capabilities are extremely limited. How many carrier battle groups do UK, France, Germany have combined? How many does the US have?

Secondly, the fact that the Sunnis are a large portion of Iraq's people will dictate that the Shia engage them politically rather than fight a really ugly civil war. Also, the US isnt leaving anytime soon, at least until the Iraqi security forces are ready to handle things. Probably be there the next 10 years.. or do you really think the US will allow Iraqi oil to go to everyone else? If you do, youre dreaming. This is an investment with an expected return. In addition, as long as the US has bases in Iraq, it can bomb the shit out of Iran on a moment's notice. Strategically and tactically, Iraq is central to the ME and the US isnt going to let it become an Islamic republic, period.

"Furthermore, a war with Iran, preferrable initiated as the result of a major domestic 'terrorist' attack, would satisfy any number of needs of the beleaguered Bush Admin. It would i) rekindle flagging 'patriotic' spirit among Bush supporters, ii) silence Congress into submission, iii) take attention off the debacle in Iraq, and iv) help innoculate Bush against possible impeachment action should the Democrats get back control of Congress this November."

The American people wont go for it this time and neither will congress unless Iran does something truly alarming. (like say, closing the strait of Hormuz) In that case, the US would likely have some EU coalition partners to help finance the venture.  

"Boy, there are guys watching too much Fox Channel"

And there are guys who would rather raise alarmist cries and talk about how the US is on the verge of defeat rather than face the reality that an economic and military superpower occupying a big, oil rich nation like Iraq for nearly 3 years with only ~2k casualties is a 'success' by any Imperialist metric. If the Iraqis really want the US to leave, their going to have to kill about ten times that amount of US soldiers.  

It's 2000 dead and at least 20,000 more wounded, many seriously.  The US has rarely expreinced a percnatge casualty rate like this in modern warfare.

The cost to the country is in the hundreds of billions $ already, and the long term heath care costs of a lifetime of caring for ten of thousands of severely wounded is hundreds of billions $ more.

That is - if the war stopped today, which isn't happening.

Oh look:

US President George W Bush has said he wants to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis through peaceful means.

You believe a pathological liar?
As Ray McGovern reminds us in this current item,

One world leader recognizes the extreme danger of official lies told to a nation in the service of an aggressive war. He also happens to be a leader who survived the horrors of fascism in the last century. In a Jan. 1 address to the world, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the consequences of lies such as these, in what can only be a thinly veiled reference to the president of the United States:

...Sacred Scripture, in its very first book, Genesis, points to the lie told at the very beginning of history by the animal with a forked tongue, whom the Evangelist John calls ''the father of lies'' (Jn 8:44). Lying is also one of the sins spoken of in the final chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, which bars liars from the heavenly Jerusalem: ''outside are... all who love falsehood'' (22:15). Lying is linked to the tragedy of sin and its perverse consequences, which have had, and continue to have, devastating effects on the lives of individuals and nations. We need but think of the events of the past century, when aberrant ideological and political systems wilfully twisted the truth and brought about the exploitation and murder of an appalling number of men and women, wiping out entire families and communities. After experiences like these, how can we fail to be seriously concerned about lies in our own time, lies which are the framework for menacing scenarios of death in many parts of the world.

I think there's a difference between outright lying and acting on shitty 'intelligence'. Renember, almost all Western nations as well as the Clinton Administration were convinced beyond shadow of doubt that Iraq had WMD.

What this shows me is that Bush is content to continue to allow the EU 3 to deal with Iran, in order to give them a chance to show how 'enlightened' Europe can defuse the situation and how military attacks are not needed. With all the criticism from France and Germany over Iraq, I think Bush is thinking 'Ok boys, lets see if you can do it a better way'.

What about the leaked British memo that said the U.S. planned to "fix" the intelligence about Iraqi WMD to take the country to war?

What about those forged Niger documents?

What about Chalabi's trumped up intelligence?

What about the Office of Special Plans, which was created to "stovepipe" Chalabi's fake intelligence around the CIA and State Department?

It was all false pretexts to go to war. I don't think anyone believed it except those who are particularly gullible to what's presented on U.S. television.

Remember Hans Blix? The guy who told the truth?


The British memo was leaked to cover their own asses for allegedly forging the Niger documents.

"What is generally agreed upon, a congressional intelligence-committee staff member told me, is that the Niger documents were initially circulated by the British--President Bush said as much in his State of the Union speech--and that "the Brits placed more stock in them than we did." It is also clear, as the former high-level intelligence official told me, that "something as bizarre as Niger raises suspicions everywhere."

"Conclusion 503. From our examination of the intelligence and other material on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa, we have concluded that:

a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.
b. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.
c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium, and the British Government did not claim this.
d. The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it. "

From the Butler Report:

Also, the fact that traces of VX and Sarin were found in Iraq indicates that there was a program. Iraq violated the terms of the 91 cease fire repeatedly and some of the EU countries were complicit in the 'oil for food' scandal. Everyone has an agenda.

I already said a few posts back that the reasons for going to war were shaky at best and that the occupation wasnt planned well at all. No reason to dig up and beat dead horses, youre preaching to the choir.


If you're on a peak-oil site then I assume you already know why Iraq was invaded.

I know that alot of people like to say it was the only reason Iraq was invaded.
Well, it's good to know that everything is ok, and there's nothing to worry about.  If you've trust that cooler heads will prevail, then I'm glad it helps you sleep well.  As for me, I don't believe anything these clowns say, trust anything they do, or have any confidence in their competence.  These are difficult waters we're sailing through, and I don't think they're up to the task - to put it mildly. We probably will not need to wait much longer to see which world veiw is more accurate - I'll root for yours, and try to prepare for mine!

But I guess this has gone well off topic.

Twilight - I'd like to hope my thoughts turn out true as well. However, any number of things could ignite a big conflict in the ME. Israel striking Iran, a big terror attack in Israel, anything. I think the Iranian president is a nutter and I think Israel would like nothing more than to annihilate the nuclear facilities. I dont think the EU 3 are going to leverage any of their diplomacy with threat of force, which is the only language the Mullahs understand. So I think we'll see a long, drawn out diplomatic impasse unless Israel decides to take their chances with an assault soon. I honestly do not think for a moment the US is going to do it this time, especially by itself, or with only the Israelis beside them.
I lean toward the idea that there won't be military action against Iran. 1)The US land forces in Iraq are near breaking point.The second half of this year is suppposed to be when  their condition becomes irrecoverable. 2)The insurgency is currently 'limited' to the Sunnis; the US position in Iraq would be at real risk of becoming untenable if some of the Shi'ites launched their own insurgency at the request of/out of sympathy for Iran. Remember that it was Sistani's implict threat to join hostilities that won Bush over to the idea of a democractic Iraq. 3) There would be a risk of the Iranians attempting to infiltrate Iraq with covert forces on seek and destroy missions.  It's difficult to say whether or not this would develop into a long term camapign. 4)The Iranians could harry gulf shipping and mine the Straits of Hormuz, a vital oil chokepoint, strangling supplies. Again, it's hard to know if these disruptions would be long term. 5) The price of oil would in any case rocket and stay high throughout the ensuing conflict. There might also be damage to mid-East oil production/transportation facilities 6)Iran would probably retaliate through missile strikes against Mid East US military targets and Israeli cities. 7)There's no real guarantee that US/Israeli airstrikes would actually take-down the nuclear programme, given that its sensibly subterranean and scattered.

Yes, the noises are ominous, if not bloody frightening, but I think that the risks attached are enough to deter any US-Israeli adventurism.

Iran is clearly a worrying and dangerous flashpoint, probably the most obvious one on the 2006 horizon. Given that, it is likely to be handled with extreme care by 'rational' nations - I include the US amongst them though that could easily change if a major terrorist attack occurs on US mainland or interests overseas.

For about 6 months I've been troubled by the feeling that things could go seriously wrong in that part of the world, also directly associated with Israel, in about late March 2006. The splitting of Likud and consequent Israeli election date of 28th March increased my concern. However, Sharon's stroke and other developments seem to have reduced the possibility from around 50% to maybe 25% so, hopefully, a direct conflict between Israel / USA and Iran will not occur.

From my (perhaps distorted) perspective I see considerable similarities between GW Bush and Ahmadinejad (Iranian president):

  • both were elected courtesy of religious extremists and derive considerable support from that constituency
  • both are viewed poorly by perhaps more rational sectors in their countries
  • both demonize their external enemies
  • their mainstream media provide poor coverage of events and views outside their country
  • both are losing support within other sectors of their governments

Is what Ahmadinejad is saying really any different than Bush and his axis of evil rhetoric which tarred Iran?

No sane person wants Iran to develop nuclear weapons. However, it's hard to disagree with the conclusion of one of Israel's leading military historians, Martin van Creveld, that Iran would be insane not to develop them, surrounded by hostile and threatening nuclear powers, including the global superpower --which ... has a history in Iran that Iranians are unlikely to sweep under the rug as is done here.

(Noam Chomsky, well worth a read, here:  )

IMO Iran has a valid case for developing nuclear power. It also has an arguable case for having nuclear weapons while Israel has them (though I think Israel's case is more justifiable). Few outside Iran and parts of the Islamic world would be happy with Iran having nuclear weapons while they elect presidents / governments, like Ahmadinejad, with apparently dangerous views - but that argument could be made against other countries, too ;)

The case for a strike against Iran in the short term (within the next 3 years) is a poor one, its downside risks are much worse than the downside risks of continuing diplomacy. Consensus seems to be that it would take 3 to 10 years for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, much can change in Iran, USA and world, during that time.

I'm not sure how much the proposed non US$ oil bourse in Tehran (opening in March 2006) might be influencing US policy. Some argue it will cause problems for the US$, some argue that effect would be trivial. I think it will have some effect but mostly symbolic, but more important is what the US administration thinks.

The holding of huge amounts of US$ financial assets by foreign individuals, countries, corporations, is a serious imbalance and potential problem. It is most likely to become an actual problem due to other events, but at such time it will become a very serious real problem for the US. At some future point several years hence China will probably wish to destabilize the US$ by selling its US$ reserves but meantimes will diversify a little with the vast amounts of US$ flowing into China from its US trade surplus. Paradoxically this may mean that China keeps its US$ holdings static or slightly increasing so that it has a sufficiently powerful lever for the future.

Jim Willie has just done a wide ranging article covering oil and energy supplies, recent Chinese energy supply contracts, potential ensuing conflicts. It's very well worth reading for a global overview of important recent energy developments and possible future energy / geopolitical trends:

So, in conclusion on the Iran situation, I think and hope Bush and other world leaders are wise enough to avoid this escalating into overt military conflict. If conflict happens there would be an immediate spike in oil prices of close to 50%, where the price goes after that would be dependent on how the conflict pans out but the odds are it would result in at least a short term shortfall of global supply.

I would look elsewhere in the mid east for conflict in the coming year, Syria seems to be coming up fast on the rails.

One of our brilliant sources makes a very sage observation: Don't be surprised by war with Iran around the time of the dark moon this month.

Lunar cycles January 2006.

btw ... fwiw Iran was reported to have received 3 stolen nukes in the 1991 period (CIA report via Time Magazine back int eh mid 90's) and another 6 to 9 in the 1995-98 period so they may already be a "nuclear power".

Keep in mind that Buehler reported on the phone that these guys have nukes.

You guys just don't "get it". First: The Iranians are playing ball. HARD BALL! Second: The Iranians are not interested in "appeasing us" or the US" either. Third: The Iranians did not destabilize the US government nor support a United States "Shah" for 20 or so years. Forth: The Iranians are not the ones with ongoing military actions in Mexico, Canada or Bermuda. Fifth: The Iranians have never invaded a forign country to acquire oil. Sixth: China buys 20% of its oil from Iran. Seventh: Iran buys basically 100% of its military supplies from Russia. Eigth: Boycotts DO NOT work on countries that DO NOT buy 100% of their manufactured goods, plastic kitchenwares and cheap knitted sweaters, baby clothes and T-shirts from China and especially those countries that have their own energy sources securly locked up. Ninth: Doesn't anybody read the financial websites? The foreign banks have already dumped a lot of USD. Why do you think the Euro stopped going down (.82 USD) then headed up (1.35 USD)? Do you think Europe started producing more. Hell I live here. Nobody increased nothing! We're just living on the increase in the Euro's we were basically forced to accept to begin with. Now we see the brilliance in that operation. You want links as "evidence"... Fine try or any foreign currency site where they give commentary on the money exchange markets. Tenth: Iran did not invade anyone under the pretext of pure lies. Scott Ridder knew and told everyone who would listen that there was nothing going on in Iraq. He was there as a weapons inspector and should have had some clue. George had never been out of the US and everyone believes him???? Eleventh: The Iranians never gave nuclear weapons to Castro. Twelve: The US military can not even remember as far back as North Korea, Viet Nam, Somilia, Afganistan and last week in Iraq and some idiot is saying they learned their lessons and know how to deal with Iran??? OK lets see YOUR "evidence link"! Thirteenth: The US Strategic Oil Reserve has a supply that will last about 20 days if its not too cold in New York and Chicago. That's gonna' get you all through a crisis. Man, the SPR is a threat only to the New York Stock Exchange! Fourteen: Somebody doesn't think the US Administration is foolish? He/she obviously hasn't been outside of the US lately, maybe even ever in their life. Fifteen: Somebody is on the right track, but still missed the boat. China is trying to lock up mideast oil. Don't you remember they tried to buy Unical? Guess where they have a lot of reserves...Azerbaijan. They were trying to buy the reserves right out from under BP-Amoco's nose. BP is counting on filling the Baku-Tablisi-Ceyhan 1million BBL/day pipeline with Caspian oil. The US Government squashed that, saying they "could not tollerate a foreign company mixing in with such an important US domestic market." What a laugh! Its strategic man, not domestic. China wound up buying a Canadian oil company, also with reserves around the Caspian. On I just can't waste any more time on this, but I'll leave with these thoughts, 1.) What the US can use as a threat is refusing to repay its loans to international holders of US Government Bonds. (Of course that will be likely to affect some domestic holders.) 2.) The US can increase trade restrictions against China and Japan. (Of course that will raise prices in the US as potential manfacturers struggle to renovate their lost production capacity and rehire lower wage workers. 3.) The US can invade Iran. (Of course unilaterally at great cost both politically and economically. The true cost of the Iraq war was recently estimated to amount to the trillions. Can you afford another one.) 4.) China does not have to "call back" its treasury bonds. It can sell them on the open market. They have more than pleanty to tide them over the low prices that would create havoic in the US and make oil instantly UNAFFORDABLE even for the richest Americans. China is under US pressure to increase their currency value so they are facing a loss on their USD reserves in either case, but used as even a temporary strategic weapon would spell immediate disaster in "capital" letters for the US economy. In the meantime, they can comfortably increase market share in India, Japan and Europe. 5.) China (and Japan) is/are facing a loss of wealth in US Dollar denominated US Government Bonds in the future, just as over the past 5 years they have taken a 50% loss in the value of their Dollar denominated assets as measured against the Euro and Gold for example. Until the 60 billion USD foreign trade imbalance and the US Government Domestic Budget Deficit come into line, foreign bond holders will continue to eye the Euro and Gold as more valuable investments. Have you looked at the price of gold over the last five years? The Chinese hold US dollar assets not because they "NEED" to, its because they "HAVE" to, from an economists perspective. But please note that they would NOT need to from a military strategist's perspective. If they are willing to accept a loss in USD denominated assets, they are free to do so. What would happen if Saudi Arabia stopped buying Boeing 787's? Do you think the Saudis have found Boeing so technically superior to Airbus or they simply don't want to buy from Air Bus??? The Saudi's have USD because they sell oil in USD. The Saudis have to pay extra just on commissions to change USD to Euros, then buy Airbus on top of that. The US Government is pretty much forcing them to buy Boeing in an all out attempt to keep the USD propped up. Qatar however I note is buying Airbus. The question is, Will Americans accept a loss in the value of the USD. Will Americans like having the world refer to the new bills as the, 'United States of America Peso". And China IS NOT the only creditor nation the US has. Did somebody forget about Japan? I think there is something like about 3.5 or 4 Trillion USD out there now. If its 4 trills, at 4.5 % simple interest per year, thats equal to an 1800 USD/year bill for an average American family of 2.8 persons IN INTEREST ALONE with nothing going back to pay down the loans. Americans Wake up! The tables have turned. You can do NOTHING now. You have no diplomatic options. Who talks turkey with an idiot? You only have the nuclear option! Therefore, You are the world's defacto terrorists. A former American and proud of it.

Sadaam got knocked off because he was going to start selling oil for Euros instead of US Dollars.  He had already changed over 10 billion of US Dollars in his UN Oil for Food reserves for Euros, EVEN THOUGH THE EURO WAS GOING DOWN AT THE TIME!  When did  the Euro start to go up, you ask?  Same time Sadaam exchanged his account.

Why is the Iran issue coming up now?  They supposedly don't have nuclear weapons yet and probably won't for another 5 years.  North Korea DOES supposedly have about 5 nukes right now at this very moment, but are they the topic today?  Hell no!

Iran will START SELLING OIL for EUROS on 20 March 2006!  Just a month and a bit left.  Expect "something" to happen before then.  In the meantime, buy Euros, gold, gasoline, water, canned beans and whatever else someone will sell you for worthless US Dollars.

This is hardball.

Now do you "GET IT" too?  If you're still having trouble, ask George Bush Sr.

In October the Gold price track broke away from the Euro, probably under at least a temporary unsustainable high pressure economic force of some kind. Interestingly, after a sharp downspike in the price of oil, which has since resumed its climb as well as the Euro having gained some in value. I believe the catylist was the record US foreign trade deficient which reached over 2 billion US Dollars per DAY, which has reduced slightly since then, but really hasn't noticably slowed down very much at all. I think that the US Dollars that were previously used to buy Euros started moving from buying Euros and moved directly into buying Gold. Perhaps it was also oil trading money that came out of oil and went to gold. Whatever caused it, there's a lotta' people and probably some foreign government banks behind it. Looks like all pressures are back on full up for the Euro so get ready to ride a series of strong updrafts while the USD goes into a long painful downward spiral OR USD intrest rates skyrocket. The alternative is to get out of your USD denominated assets, especially those with variable interest rates attached to them right away... now!