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US MEK policy (32)
Iran-India pipeline (17)

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US confrontation with Iran

 
  

Project: US confrontation with Iran

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January 2005

       The US Air Force begins flying sorties over Iran from its bases in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars so the US can develop “an electronic order of battle for Iran.” “We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them,” an unnamed administration official tells United Press International. [United Press International, 1/26/2005 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration officials] Washington initially denies the overflight reports. [Guardian, 1/29/2005]
          

January 2005

       A Farsi-speaking former CIA officer says he was approached by neoconservatives in the Pentagon who asked him to go to Iran and oversee “MEK [Mujahedeen-e Khalq] cross-border operations” into Iran, which he refused to do. Commenting on the neoconservatives' ambitions in Iran, the former officer says, “They are bringing a lot of the old war-horses from the Reagan and Iran-contra days into a sort of kitchen cabinet outside the government to write up policy papers on Iran.” He says their plans for Iran are “delusional.” “They think in Iran you can just go in and hit the facilities and destabilize the government. They believe they can get rid of a few crazy mullahs and bring in the young guys who like Gap jeans, all the world's problems are solved,” he says. [Guardian, 1/18/2005]
          

(Early 2005)

       The US sends teams of US-trained former Iranian exiles, sometimes accompanied by US Special Forces, into southern and eastern Iran to search for underground nuclear installations. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005; Guardian, 2/29/2005; United Press International, 1/26/2005] In the north, Israeli-trained Kurds from northern Iraq, occasionally assisted by US forces, look for signs of nuclear activity as well. [United Press International, 1/26/2005] Both teams are tasked with planting remote detection devices, known as “sniffers,” which can sense radioactive emissions and other indicators of nuclear-enrichment programs while also helping US war planners establish targets. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005; United Press International, 1/26/2005] The former Iranian exiles operating in the south and east are members of Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), a group that has been included in the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997 (see 1997) and included in a government white paper (see September 12, 2002) that criticized Iraq for its support of the group. After the US invaded Iraq, members of MEK were “consolidated, detained, disarmed, and screened for any past terrorist acts” by the US (see July 2004) and designated as “protected persons.” (see July 21, 2004) Initially, the MEK operate from Camp Habib in Basra, but they later launch their incursions from the Baluchi region in Pakistan. [Newsweek, 2/15/2005; United Press International, 1/26/2005] They are assisted by information from Pakistani scientists and technicians who have knowledge of Iran's nuclear program. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] Pakistan apparently agreed to cooperate with the US in exchange for assurances that Pakistan would not have to turn Abdul Qadeer Khan, the so-called “father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb,” to the IAEA or to any other international authorities for questioning. Khan, who is “linked to a vast consortium of nuclear black-market activities,” could potentially be of great assistance to these agencies in their efforts to undermine nuclear weapons proliferation. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] In addition to allowing Pakistan to keep A.Q. Khan, the US looks the other way as Pakistan continues to buy parts for its nuclear-weapons arsenal in the black market, according to a former high-level Pakistani diplomat interviewed by Seymour Hersh [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] The United States' use of MEK is criticized by western diplomats and analysts who agree with many Iranians who consider the group to be traitors because they fought alongside Iraqi troops against Iran in the 1980s. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Bush administration
          

January 6, 2005

       Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida re-introduces a bill on United States' policy toward Iran (a similar bill was introduced in the 108th Congress in 2003). The bill, named the Iran Freedom Support Act (HR 282), says, “[I]t should be the policy of the United States to support independent human rights and pro-democracy forces in Iran.” It would also authorize the president to “provide financial and political assistance (including the award of grants) to foreign and domestic individuals, organizations, and entities that support democracy and the promotion of democracy in Iran and that are opposed to the non-democratic Government of Iran.” These efforts would be paid for with funds already “available to the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).” [Financial Times, 1/18/2005 Sources: Iran Freedom Support Act (H. R. 282)]
People and organizations involved: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
          

February 22, 2005

       Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita denies that the US is flying drones on reconnaissance missions over Iran. He claims that recent news reports about the drones are inaccurate. “I would consider the source and leave it at that. I'm telling you that we're not doing those kinds of activities,” Di Rita says. “To the best of our knowledge, it isn't happening: period.” [US Department of Defense, 2/22/2005; US Department of State, 2/22/2005]
          

October 5, 2005

       Britain accuses Iran of having played a role in the transfer of explosive technology from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi army in Iraq. British officials say Iran is responsible for the deaths of all eight UK soldiers killed in Iraq this year, all of whom died in explosions. Iran denies the charges. [Al Jazeera, 10/6/2005; BBC, 9/5/2005]
          


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