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In recent days, four key developments have clicked in to edge Iran and Israel much closer to a military denouement with profound consequences for American oil that the nation is not prepared to meet.
What has happened?
Bibi Netanyahus assumption of power in Israel sets the stage for a huge campaign by the Israeli government, and its well-oiled lobby groups in Washington, to push us into a war with Iran.
Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, according to U.S. and European intelligence agencies. But reality rarely impedes on politics. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, along with Netanyahu, all talk as if Iran is on the brink of dropping the big one on the Jewish state.
Netanyahu on Friday named Iran as Israels main threat after he was called to form a new government following the Feb. 20 elections.
President Barack Obama is taking the first step toward blocking a proposed repository for U.S. nuclear waste, by slashing money for the program in his first budget, according to congressional sources.
Obama's budget to be announced Thursday (Friday in Jakarta) will eliminate virtually all funding for the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada with the exception of money needed for license applications submitted last year to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the document had not been made public.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has fought the Yucca Mountain dump for years, said Obama's decision to cut funding "represents our most significant victory to date in our battle to protect Nevada from becoming the country's toxic wasteland."
Zardari: We Underestimated Taliban Threat - 100 Nukes
By Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor, The Nation
With George W. Bush back in Texas and President Barack Obama--an advocate for a nuclear-free world--in the White House, there is reason for hope that the frayed and shredded arms control regime will be rebuilt. But President Obama also faces a looming, high noon showdown over such a move towards real security and peace--in the form of Bush holdover, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Gates is a relentless supporter of building the next generation of nuclear weapons--the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. He praises the RRW as "a more reliable deterrent." At this moment--when we need the Obama Administration to push for Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and negotiations to get the US and Russia's nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert while also reducing the countries' stockpiles--a Gates-led policy would be a real defeat for arms control and a sane security and foreign policy.
The five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany plan to hold talks in early February on Iran's disputed nuclear activities, Reuters reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 16).
The group has led the U.N. Security Council to issue three sets sanctions resolutions in recent years aimed at pressuring Iran to halt nuclear work that could support nuclear weapons development. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is strictly peaceful.
"Political directors are scheduled to meet at the beginning of February in Berlin. That will be the first meeting this year. They will brainstorm the opportunities of further action with regard to this issue," said Yuri Fedotov, Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom.
There’s really only one solution. Only one way for Obama to get himself out of the box his predecessor Bush, Dick Cheney and the neocons have put him in. He has to affirm Iran’s inalienable right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium.
Somewhere along the road American public opinion, which history shows can be easily persuaded of things that just aren’t true, has bought several highly questionable propositions:
1. Iran has a nuclear weapons program.
2. Iran’s nuclear program can have only one purpose, the production of nuclear weapons.
3. The Iranian leadership wishes to, and has threatened to, wipe Israel off the face of the map.
4. Given all of the above, Iran’s progress towards nuclear enrichment must be stopped in order to prevent a second, “nuclear” Holocaust.
These propositions — Big Lies that that become better established with each retelling — are in fact easily refutable.
By Dave Lindorff
Congress should do now what it should have done back in the fall: kill the Wall Street bailout program.
After wasting $350 billion on a program that was misrepresented from the outset, and investing hundreds of billions of dollars in failing financial institutions that it could have bought outright for less than it was investing in them (AIG was worth only a few billion dollars in total at the time that the government bailed the company out with an initial investment of $85 billion and Citicorp today is worth less than the $45 billion the government has invested in that failing firm), the Treasury Department, now acting at the direction not of the Bush administration and outgoing Treasurer Hank Paulson, but the Obama administration, is asking for the other half of the Troubled Assets Relief Fund (TARP).
President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials.
By Dave Lindorff
A new congressional report is belatedly confirming what many have long known: that the White House and in particular then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, lied to Congress in 2004 when he told them the Bush administration was not repeatedly warned by the CIA not to make the claim that Saddam had tried to buy uranium ore from Niger.
What is astonishing about this report, which documents that the CIA at least four times tried to prevent Bush and other top officials from presenting that lie to Congress and the American public in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, is not that it documents what has long been known, but that Congress and the corporate media are still pretending that the claim itself was an acceptable justification for launching a war.
The reaction from safe-energy advocates is mixed to the proposed appointment of Steven Chu as U.S. energy secretary by President-Elect Barak Obama. Mixed is a charitable response to the prospects of Chu being in charge of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Although he has a keen interest in energy efficiency and solar power and other clean forms of renewable energy, Chu is a staunch advocate of nuclear power.
“Nuclear has to be a necessary part of the portfolio,” declared Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, at an economic gathering last March in Palo Alto, California organized by Stanford University.”
The Bush administration plans to sign its first nuclear-cooperation agreement with a Middle Eastern nation within the next few weeks, according to a senior U.S. official, raising concerns among congressional critics who say the deal could fuel nuclear proliferation in the region.
The proposed deal with the United Arab Emirates has attracted attention because the U.A.E.'s largest trading partner is Iran. The U.A.E. has served in the past as a transshipment point for technology with military applications headed to Iran.
Commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Iran has discovered an Israeli spy network recently, Iran's state TV (IRIB) website reported Monday.
"Recently, a network which was spying the country's military organizations was detected and traced. After some intelligence work, we discovered that it related to the Israeli intelligence services (Mossad). The agents were arrested thereafter," Jafari was quoted as saying.
"The spy network intended to collect nuclear information and information of sensitive parts of IRGC, and then transfer the information to the Zionist regime," he said, adding that "some advanced and complicated communication systems were also discovered in the spying network."
Intelligence study sees risks in rapid global power shift
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — The risks of a nuclear weapon being used and wars being fought over dwindling resources will grow during the next 20 years as diminishing U.S. power, a shift of wealth from West to East, the rise of India and China and climate change reshape the world, a new U.S. intelligence study warned Thursday.
"The international system — as constructed following the Second World War — will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of non-state actors," the report said.
By Dave Lindorff
A CBS/Associated Press story yesterday reported that the man who runs the Pentagon’s anti-missile program, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering III, had warned incoming President-elect Barack Obama that any reversal of Bush/Cheney administration plans to install anti-ballistic missile missiles in Poland would “severely hurt” American interests.
It was a classic “stupid” story of the type that we now expect to get from our corporate media—basically a regurgitation of the statement of one self-interested official, backed up by a few supporting quotes from other government officials, and the usual “anonymous” official sources, and lacking any context or opposing viewpoints.
Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) announced it has signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy for the disposal of used nuclear fuel.
The nuclear waste from Duke's proposed William States Lee III Nuclear Generating Station will be accepted by the Energy Department and permanently disposed of, under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 which assigns responsibility to the department for permanent disposal of used fuel from nuclear power plants.
Samples taken from a Syrian site bombed by Israel on suspicion it was a covert nuclear reactor contained traces of uranium combined with other elements that merit further investigation, diplomats said Monday.
The diplomats — who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential — said the uranium was processed and not in raw form, suggesting some kind of nuclear link.
But one of the diplomats said the uranium finding itself was significant only in the context of other traces found in the oil or air samples taken by International Atomic Energy Agency experts during their visit to the site in June.
The general in charge of the U.S. Air Force's cyber-warfare effort says plans for his unit have been scaled back, because staff who would have been used to set up a cyber command will be allocated to the service's new nuclear command instead.
Air Force Cyber Command was to be stood up as a major command -- alongside the service's space, air combat and other commands -- in October. But those plans were suspended over the summer after Defense Secretary Robert Gates booted the Air Force's civilian and military leaders following their failure to enforce accountability for the accidental flight across the United States of part of the nation's nuclear arsenal.
In his latest report to the United Nations, Mohamad ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) , has cited "substantial progress" in clarifying questions about Iran's nuclear program, stating unequivocally that the agency "has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran".
A U.S.-led initiative to relocate and secure at-risk nuclear material faces collapse without the cooperation of the world community, officials say.
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration last week conducted a massive relocation of some 341 pounds of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, from a Hungarian research facility to secure storage areas in northern Russia.
Defense Secretary demands Congress fund new nuclear weapons program, offers veiled threats on testing
By John Byrne, Raw Story
Hints that the Pentagon will restart nuclear testing in effort to prod Congress to fund new generation of weapons
After making a comment the same day saying that Russia must reduce its nuclear arsenal, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called on the United States to begin testing its nuclear weapon program and fund a new generation of nuclear weapons.
The Bush Administration is at odds with Congress on a law that would authorize the funding for a Reliable Replacable Warhead project -- the so called "next generation" of nuclear weapon designs.
Nearly 80 peace protesters gathered outside of the gates of Bath Iron Works on Saturday during the christening of the Wayne E. Meyer, urging the shipyard to convert to producing equipment for harvesting sustainable resources.
"Today our message is conversion," said Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. "We want to see taxpayer dollars go to produce more jobs in sustainable industry and to combat global warming."
Pakistan said Saturday that China will help it build two more nuclear power plants, offsetting Pakistani frustration over a recent nuclear deal between archrival India and the United States.
The agreement with China was among 12 accords signed during Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's recent visit to Beijing, said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
While Qureshi gave few details, the accord deepens Pakistan's long-standing ties with China at a time when its relations with Washington are strained over the war against terrorism.
U.S. officials including Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, who arrived in Islamabad on Saturday for talks, have rejected Pakistani calls for equal treatment with India on nuclear power.
Enough processed uranium to make six nuclear weapons was secretly transported thousands of miles by truck, rail and ship on a monthlong trip from a research reactor in Budapest, Hungary, to a facility in Russia so it could be more closely protected against theft, U.S. officials revealed Wednesday.
The shipment, conducted under tight secrecy and security, included a three-week trip by cargo ship through the Mediterranean, up the English Channel and the North Sea to Russia's Arctic seaport of Murmansk, the only port Russia allows for handling nuclear material.