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December 31, 2005
Iran In The Crosshairs?

The German magazine Der Spiegel published a report yesterday that speculates an impending military response to Iranian intransigence on nuclear proliferation, primarily involving the US military. According to the magazine, the US has leaned on Turkey to provide extensive intelligence on Iran in exchange for helping to suppress the PKK in northern Iraq, and will use that intelligence in a series of air strikes on key strategic points in Iran:

The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter's past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his home and offices have been searched multiple times) for allegations that he published state secrets -- a charge that he claims would underscore rather than undermine the veracity of his work.

According to Ulfkotte's report, "western security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.

DDP also reported that the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan have been informed in recent weeks of Washington's military plans. The countries, apparently, were told that air strikes were a "possible option," but they were given no specific timeframe for the operations.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel also cited NATO intelligence sources claiming that Washington's western allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. Of course, Bush has publicly stated for months that he would not take the possibility of a military strike off the table. What's new here, however, is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year.

The background context for these attacks come from Iran itself. Not only has the new hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a number of anti-American statements, but he has openly campaigned for the destruction of Israel, hosting a "seminar" exploring the ramifications of a world without America and Israel. He has disputed the historical fact of the Holocaust and told Europe that if they want to save Israel, they will need to relocate the entire country to Europe.

Having given Israel an almost perfect excuse for a pre-emptive attack, the Germans think that George Bush won't pass up the opportunity to join them. The DDP quoted a high-ranking German military officer as saying that an attack would have to happen before Iran develops its nuclear weapon, and that window appears to be closing fast. Along with a series of high-level meetings in Turkey between American and Turkish diplomats and military planners, it looks like something may soon be afoot regarding Iran. And oddly enough, although Der Speigel doesn't mention it in their article, one of the clearest indicators may be Teheran's sudden reversal on the Russian offer to process their uranium for the Iranians. Until this week, Iran rejected the offer outright, saying that Iran had a sovereign right to process their own uranium for peaceful purposes. Without much explanation, though, the Iranians changed course this week and endorsed the Russian proposal in concept while asking for clearer details on the Russian plan.

In other words, it looks like everyone has suddenly understood that the Americans have taken over the game plan on Iran, as quietly as possible under the circumstances. The question remains what we intend to do with Teheran to blck their acquisition of nuclear weapons and end Iranian provocations of Israel.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 31, 2005 9:47 AM

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In diplomacy, this is called “sending a message.” Or, if you are President of a country that is seeking to build nuclear weapons, it is called “The Voice of Doom:” According to Ulfkotte’s report, “western securi... [Read More]

Tracked on January 1, 2006 8:14 AM


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