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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has pointedly ramped up its public warnings over the last few weeks about the risks of military action against Iran, accompanied by private words of caution to Israel, which sees Tehran's nuclear push as a direct threat.
But so far, at least, comments by U.S. and Israeli officials suggest that Washington's private lobbying has yet to convince Israeli hard-liners and even some moderates that alternatives, like sanctions and diplomatic pressure, will ultimately succeed in curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.
It is unclear whether the differing views are any indication about whether Israel might be moving closer to a go-it-alone military strike, an option Tel Aviv has ruled out for the moment. Indeed, that may ultimately not be the case.
Rhetoric has periodically escalated over the years, often bolstering pushes - like the present one - for tougher sanctions against Iran.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech on Sunday widely seen within Israel as hinting about policy on Iran, spoke about making "the right decision at the right moment," even when allies object.
A nuclear-armed Iran, Netanyahu has said, is an existential threat to Israel.
Netanyahu's comments came on the heels of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's strongest comments yet explaining America's concerns about a military strike on Iran.
Panetta said it risked "an escalation" that could "consume the Middle East in confrontation and conflict that we would regret." It could also hobble the fragile U.S. and European economies and might do little to actually stop Iran from getting an atomic weapon - a goal Tehran denies having.
Iran says its uranium enrichment is for peaceful purposes.
Panetta, citing conversations with his "Israeli friends," said an attack would only set back Iran's nuclear program by one to two years at best. He also warned about blowback to U.S. forces in the region.
"The United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases," Panetta told a forum in Washington on Friday.
Panetta privately outlined U.S. concerns in talks with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Canada last month, including the impact a strike would have on the world economy.
Analysts say Tehran could retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway where about 40 percent of all traded oil passes.
So How Do We Hold Rallies to Protest the Day the Iran War Begins If It Has Already Begun and We're Being Eased Into It?
People are starting to call what the United States and its 51st state are doing in Iran a war. Not of course in the constitutional sense of requiring a declaration by Congress. Not even in the sense of the War Powers Resolution which Harold Koh has now informed us allows mass murder as long as those mass murdered are not US citizens. Not of course in the legal sense in which the Kellogg-Briand Pact banned war. Not even in the UN Charter sense as "defensive" or UN-authorized. Also, not in the sense of economic or civil or political transformnation from peace time to war time, as there is no longer any such thing as peace time. But people are calling it war in the sense in which people recall legends from the murky past. A powerful mythical word for these necessary and strategic kinetic overseas contingency operations is war. Remember to bring it up when you're on a talk show.
STOP THE WAR COALITION Newsletter No.1227 2 December 2011 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7801 2768 Web: http://stopwar.org.uk Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition 1) STOP THE BUILD UP TO WAR ON IRAN 2) NEARLY 400 DEAD... BRING THE TROOPS HOME FROM AFGHANISTAN 3) A GRAPHIC HISTORY OF STOP THE WAR TEN YEARS ON 4) NO TO INTERVENTION IN SYRIA *********** 1) STOP THE BUILD UP TO WAR ON IRAN The western powers seem to be doing everything possible to increase tension with Iran. Yesterday EU ministers imposed new sanctions on top of those agreed
Special Report: The U.S. news media shows no skepticism as it accepts the toughly worded report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Ignored is the fact that the IAEA’s new chief appears to have joined the U.S./Israel camp, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry, Consortium News
As Washington’s political/media class rises up in arms over new WMD allegations against Iran, it might be worth recalling how a similar process played out nearly a decade ago when the U.S. public was drawn into a war with Iraq. It wasn’t just that George W. Bush told some lies; it was more complicated than that.
From Dennis Kucinich
Kucinich Cites Iraq, Warns Colleagues Against War Based on Misinformation
Washington D.C. (November 22, 2011) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who led the opposition to the war in Iraq, is today warning his colleagues about misinformation being used to support a possible attack on Iran. In a letter to colleagues, Kucinich calls for a significant shift in U.S. policy toward Iran away from threats of war and indiscriminate sanctions against the Iranian people and towards "a serious diplomatic track."
Kucinich’s letter follows.
STOP THE WAR COALITION Newsletter No.1226 21 November 2011 Email email@example.com Tel: 020 7801 2768 Web: http://stopwar.org.uk Twitter: http://twitter.com/STWuk Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stopthewarcoalition 1) BREAK THE SILENCE ON AFGHANISTAN 2) DON'T ATTACK IRAN 3) STOP THE WAR FUNDRAISING DINNER ************** 1) BREAK THE SILENCE ON AFGHANISTAN There is a conspiracy of silence about the war in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the occupation is in growing trouble. Five British soldiers have died in the last ten days but their deaths have barely been reported. Britain and the
WASHINGTON, Nov 19, 2011 (IPS) - A former inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repudiated its major new claim that Iran built an explosives chamber to test components of a nuclear weapon and carry out a simulated nuclear explosion.
By Harvey Wasserman
The global Occupy Movement has come to life just in time.
War is the health of the corporate state. The 1% needs its endless cash flow to stay in power.
As the slaughters in Iraq and Afghanistan transform into something less visible, the 1% war machine must have a new profit center. The pretext for this latest war is the spectre of a nuclear-armed Iran. It's a tawdry re-run of the lies George W. Bush used to sell the 2003 attack on Iraq. It's no surprise those "Weapons of Mass Destruction" were never found---or that Bush could later joke about it.
By Elizabeth Murray, ConsortiumNews
I remember thinking smugly to myself in late 2002/early 2003: “Those neocons will never be able to launch their much-desired war in Iraq; their lies are so blatant; their allegations are nonsense; and the world is against them.”
I felt so confident that reason and logic would win out. What a hard lesson the past eight years have been!
By Robert Parry
Arguably, the most serious ethical crisis in U.S. journalism is the deep-seated bias about the Middle East that is displayed by major American news outlets, particularly the Washington Post and the New York Times.
When it comes to reporting on “designated enemies” in the Muslim world, the Post and the Times routinely jettison all sense of objectivity even when the stakes are as serious as war and peace, life and death. Propaganda wins out over balanced journalism.
We have seen this pattern with Iraq and its non-existent stockpiles of WMD; with the rush to judgment about Syria’s supposed guilt in the killing of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri; with the false certainty about Libya’s role in the Lockerbie bombing; and many other examples of what everyone just “knows to be true” but often turns out isn’t. [For more on these cases, click here.]
The latest example of this ethical failing relates to reporting about Iran on such topics as the buffoonish plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and a new set of dubious allegations about Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
In these cases, U.S. mainstream news media happily marshals sources with histories of credibility problems; treats implausible scenarios with utmost respect; jettisons crucial context; and transforms the grays of ambiguity into black-and-white morality tales of good versus evil.
Then, behind these war drums of the U.S. press corps, the American people are marched toward confrontation and violence, while anyone who dares question the perceived wisdom of the Post, the Times and many other esteemed outlets is fair game for marginalization and ridicule.
An example of this propaganda passing as journalism has been the recent writings of Joby Warrick of the Washington Post about a vague but alarmist report produced by the new leadership of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iraq all over again?
Much of the corporate media coverage of a new UN report on Iran strongly asserts that Iran is close to building nuclear weapons. But the International Atomic Energy Agency report does not actually arrive at that conclusion, and many critics contend that the speculations that are in the report are misguided.
A USA Today piece (11/9/11) was headlined "UN Agency Issues Red Alert Over Iran's Secret Nuke Program"--with the "red alert" hype coming from a source in the piece, Rep. Ed Royce (R.-Calif.). On CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley reported (11/7/11), "The U.N.'s nuclear agency is expected to report later this week that Iran is on the threshold of being able to build a nuclear bomb."
On ABC World News, anchor Diane Sawyer announced (11/8/11):
And now, a long-dreaded headline about Iran and nuclear weapons. After a decade of debating whether Iran would build one, a UN report says tonight they will, and it has begun.
ABC correspondent Jim Sciutto added that the IAEA found Iran has "been carrying out activities whose sole purpose can only be the development of a nuclear weapon." Sawyer closed the segment by pleading, "Anything else out there to prevent this, to stop it? Is it too late?" She added: "So much for Ahmadinejad claiming it was only nuclear power plants, always nuclear power plants."
This is from the New York Daily News:
In public Sunday, President Obama was at a summit unsuccessfully leaning on Russia and China to back diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuke program.
In private Sunday, there was more evidence of an efficient and brutal covert operation that continues to degrade Iran’s military capabilities.
Iranian officials revealed that one of the 17 men killed in a huge explosion at a munitions depot was a key Revolutionary Guard commander who headed Iran’s missile program. And the IRNA state news agency reported that scientists had discovered a new computer virus in their systems, a more sophisticated version of the Stuxnet worm deployed last year to foul up Iran’s centrifuges.
Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Air Force has taken delivery of a new 30,000-pound bomb from Boeing Co. that’s capable of penetrating deeply buried enemy targets.
The huge bunker buster, dubbed the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, is built to fit the B-2 stealth bomber. The Air Force Global Strike Command started receiving the bombs in September, Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miller said in a short statement to Bloomberg News.
The deliveries “will meet requirements for the current operational need,” he said.
The Air Force in 2009 said Boeing might build as many as 16 of the munitions. Miller yesterday had no details on how many the Air Force plans to buy. Boeing in August received a $32 million contract that included eight of the munitions.
In this past weekend's festival of idiocy known as the Republican Presidential Debate, one of the more idiotic of the idiots Newt Gingrich said that if he were president he would murder Iranians and deny responsibility, while another of the more idiotic of the idiots Senator Rick Santorum said that he was aware Iranian scientists had already been being killed and that he sincerely hoped the United States was behind those murders.
Also this past weekend, another Iranian scientist was murdered, with sources crediting Mossad. In other words, the United States is either central to or complicit in and tolerant of at least some of the murders. Whether Santorum will now endorse Obama for the Republican nomination is still unclear.
War of Words on Iran - by Stephen Lendman
Provocative rhetoric followed release of the IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program, despite baseless allegations in it.
In October 2009, the Agency leaked a document titled "Possible Dimensions of Iran's Nuclear Program" to the New York Times. At issue was circumventing then IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei. Allegations in it were spurious. As a result, he wouldn't touch it.
Iran: WMDs Redux - by Stephen Lendman
Here we go again. Everything that goes around, comes around. We've seen it all before, each time fake. Nothing's different now.
Previous articles said US intelligence assessments through March 2011 found no evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons development.
Washington and Israel v. Iran and Flotilla Activists - by Stephen Lendman
While high stakes nuclear roulette continues, the fate of Freedom Waves to Gaza activists hangs in the balance.
On November 2, Canada's Tahrir and Ireland's Soairse (Freedom) sailed from Fethiye, Turkey. Israel warplanes and naval vessels shadowed them in international waters.
By Gareth Porter WASHINGTON, Nov 9, 2011 (IPS) - The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published by a Washington think tank Tuesday repeated the sensational claim previously reported by news media all over the world that a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist had helped Iran construct a detonation system that could be used for a nuclear weapon. But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is not named in the IAEA report but was identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons scientist but one of the top specialists in the world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives. In fact, Danilenko, a Ukrainian, has worked solely on nanodiamonds from the beginning of his research career and is considered one of the pioneers in the development of nanodiamond technology, as published scientific papers confirm.
Fabricated IAEA Report on Iran Released - by Stephen Lendman
Previous articles said US intelligence assessments through March 2011 (the latest one) found no evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons development.
During his December 1, 1997 - November 30, 2009 tenure as IAEA director general, Mohamed ElBaradei concurred. He carefully avoided anti-Iranian rhetoric and baseless charges.
A joint statement by the Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) and The Virginia Defender newspaper
War Winds Target Iran - by Stephen Lendman
Anti-Iranian rhetoric and saber rattling is one thing, baseless accusations another if serve as pretext for aggressive war.
Whether or not it's coming isn't known. Heated tensions are worrisome if boil over. Leaked information on an imminent IAEA report may or may not precipitate it even though what's coming lacks credibility.