declared the elections in Iraq a resounding success and that freedom is on
the march, it now appears that the Administration's focus is increasingly
honing in on Iran. The hairs on America's collective neck should be standing
Iran, a member of Bush's infamous axis of evil, is known to have improperly
concealed its nuclear activities from the International Atomic Energy Agency
for 18 years. According to Iran, it is intent on developing a peaceful
nuclear energy program and has no designs on nuclear weapons. To date, the
IAEA has not found any conclusive evidence to contradict Iran's claims.
Nonetheless, the U.S. adamantly insists that Iran is lying and is using
civilian programs as a cover for its nuclear weapons programs. Is the U.S.
correct in its assessment of Iran's true intent? Perhaps. Trouble is, U.S.
credibility on such matters is in tatters following the revelation that U.S.
claims regarding Iraq's WMD were almost all wrong. Perhaps as a result of
that terribly public humiliation of U.S. intelligence, the U.S., while
refusing to directly participate, sanctions and supports Old Europe's
efforts at a diplomatic resolution of the Iran situation.
Currently, Iran is in discussions with the European Union regarding Western
demands that it abandon its plans to make nuclear fuel. On Wednesday,
February 9, 2005, there were ominous signs that the discussions were
faltering. Iran declared that it would never give up its efforts to master
peaceful nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment. Additionally,
Iran expressed its impatience with the slow progress of its discussions with
the EU, demanding “tangible, objective progress” as a condition for
continued negotiations. Simultaneously, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
again aligned himself with the more hawkish faction of the Administration
when he said there was “no doubt” that Iran supported international
terrorism. Not surprisingly, Reuters reported that the U.S., anticipating a
collapse in the talks, was preparing alternative solutions.
Blair's “no doubt” comment echoes those of Vice President Cheney on
inauguration day when he put Iran “right at the top of the list” of
potential trouble spots. More troubling was Cheney's “concern” that since
Iran was committed to the destruction of Israel, Israel would act
unilaterally against Iran. In fact, Israel is fully prepared to do so and in
a recent press conference in London, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
refused to answer whether the U.S. would deter an Israeli strike on Iran.
Indeed, Rice later complained that the EU was not being tough enough in its
discussions with Iran.
Concerns about a possible Israeli preemptive strike against Iran are not
idle. First, as demonstrated by its preemptive attack on Iraq's nuclear
facility in the 1980's, Israel is fully capable of and willing to carrying
out such attacks. Moreover, in July of 2004, members of Israel's Likud and
Labor Knesset parties called for preemptive strikes against Iran's nuclear
facilities. Thereafter, on September 8, 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon accused the international community of failing to take adequate steps
to prevent Iran's development of nuclear technology and warned that Israel
would unilaterally defend itself. As of July 2004, according to the Sunday
Times of London, the Israeli Air Force had finalized plans for striking
Iran's Bushehr reactor and even practiced attacks on a scale model.
According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, as of October 2004 Israel had
completed plans for simultaneous preemptive strikes against six Iranian
Since 1998, Israel has purchased from the U.S. dozens of F-15 and F-16
aircraft, each with an attack radius sufficient to strike known nuclear
facilities in Iran. Likewise, on September 21, 2004, Israel acknowledged
purchasing from the U.S. 500 “bunker-buster” bombs, which could be used to
destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. The only way Israel could conduct air
strikes against Iran would be by flying through Iraqi air space. Inasmuch as
Iraq is currently under U.S. occupation, even without actively participating
in such strikes, the U.S. would clearly be complicit by virtue of granting
Israeli aircraft unhindered passage to Iran.
Regardless, it is becoming increasingly clear that U.S. involvement in
strikes against Iran is not strictly passive. In late December 2004, Iran
reported sightings of “unidentified flying objects” in Iranian airspace.
Such sightings were reported in provinces where nuclear facilities either
already existed or were being built. On December 29 and 30, 2004, U.S.
combat aircraft were reportedly sighted flying in Iranian airspace near the
Iraq border. A U.S. warplane reportedly violated Iraqi airspace again, this
time near the Afghanistan border, on January 1, 2005. As reported by Richard
Sale of UPI on January 26, 2005, the U.S. is flying combat aircraft into
Iranian airspace to lure Iran into activating its air defense radars,
providing U.S. pilots with valuable targeting data. As reported by Seymour
Hersh on January 24, 2005, and confirmed by Sale, the U.S. has long been
conducting and directing covert operations within Iran in order to locate
Iranian nuclear facilities for future targeting purposes. While the Pentagon
resorted to personal attacks in deriding Hersh, it did not deny the covert
operations and failed to even address the report by Sale. Similarly, during
her confirmation hearings for Secretary of State, Rice declined to admit or
deny either Hersh's or Sale's allegations of U.S. covert operations in Iran.
Furthermore, despite current public statements by U.S. officials advocating
diplomacy with Iran, it is the manifest position of the U.S. that there must
be regime change in Iran. For instance, back on July 12, 2002, President
Bush issued a statement supporting those Iranians advocating reform of the
Iranian government. On May 29, 2003, then-National Security Advisor Rice
acknowledged that the White House desired regime change in Iran. Similarly,
on August 8, 2003, when a question was asked about regime change in Iran,
President Bush voice his support for “those who desire freedom in Iran.”
More recently, on February 12, 2004, the U.S. Senate passed Senate
Resolution 304, stating that U.S. policy should be to advocate a democratic
government in Iran. On May 6, 2004, the House passed Concurrent Resolution
398, which called upon the United States to use "all appropriate means" to
prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The resolution also called for
additional and stricter sanctions against Iran. Under Secretary for Arms
Control and National Security John Bolton, speaking on August 17, 2004,
explained that Iran should be isolated, not engaged. Vice President Cheney's
inauguration-day remarks clearly advocated a U.S. policy of nothing less
than regime change. Finally, on January 18, 2005, President Bush refused to
rule out military action against Iran, while on February 4, 2005, Secretary
of State Rice described the Iranian regime as loathsome.
Is war with Iran a foregone conclusion? Of course not. However, in light of
the Administration's declared policy of preemption (not to mention
Israel's), there are sufficient signs to warrant concern.
is an attorney based in Tucson, Arizona. Visit his weblog at:
www.politicsofdissent.blogspot.com/. He can be reached at:
Articles by Ken Sanders
Cute With the Law
Boogeyman and Social Security