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US confrontation with Iran

 
  

Project: US confrontation with Iran

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April 9, 1998

       The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel obtained a collection of Iranian documents containing correspondences between Iranian government officials and leaders of the Revolutionary Guards discussing efforts to secure nuclear warheads from former Soviet republics. According to the Jerusalem Post, “US congressional experts” determined the papers were authentic. But a senior Israeli source who is quoted in the paper says, “At this point, we can't say for certain whether these are genuine. But they look awfully real.” The article does not provide information about when precisely the documents were found, though a US government consultant is quoted saying that Israel has “had them for years.” [Jerusalem Post, 4/9/1998]
          

February 8, 2002

       Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer meets with US Vice President Dick Cheney and tells him that Israel is concerned that Iran, which Israel believes will have nuclear weapons by 2005, represents a greater threat to Israel than Iraq. “The danger, as I see it, is from a Hezbollah-Iran-Palestinian triangle, with Iran leading this triangle and putting together a coalition of terror,” he tells Cheney. [Ha'aretz, 2/9/2002]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

February 9, 2002

       Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets with President George W. Bush. According to the Ha'aretz Daily, the goal of the meeting is to “convince the United States that Iran constitutes a strategic threat to Israel.” [Ha'aretz, 2/9/2002]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

November 2, 2002

       In an interview with the Times of London, Ariel Sharon says that Iran must be toppled after the US invades Iraq. Sharon calls Iraq “a very, very dangerous country led by an insane regime” and describes Iran as the “center of world terror” and a direct threat to Israel (see also February 9, 2002). [The Times of London, 11/2/2002]
          

February 17, 2003

       Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tells a visiting delegation of American congressmen, joined by US Undersecretary of State John Bolton, that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq. “These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve,” Sharon reportedly says. He says Israel considers Iran a security threat, and that the US should have plans for dealing with Iran. Sharon also says that Israel was not involved in the war with Iraq “but the American action is of vital importance.” [Ha'aretz, 2/18/2003]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

November 12, 2003

       John Bolton, speaking at a dinner for the right-wing publication American Spectator, calls the conclusions of a forthcoming IAEA report (see November 10, 2003) on Iran's nuclear activities “impossible to believe.” The widely leaked report says inspectors have found no evidence that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. Bolton insists that Iran's “massive and covert ... effort to acquire sensitive nuclear capabilities make sense only as part of a nuclear weapons program.” [US Department of State, 11/12/2003] Responding to Bolton's remarks, IAEA's Director General Mohamed ElBaradei tells Time magazine, “We are not in the business of judging intentions. What we look for are facts and proof, and so far we have no proof of a nuclear-weapons program. The jury is still out.” [Time Europe, 11/24/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei, John R. Bolton
          

December 2003

       Several Middle Eastern countries respond positively to Libya's pledge to end its weapons of mass destruction programs, including Iran. “Iran welcomes any step taken by any country to dismantle weapons of mass destruction,” says Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. “But it is the time for the world to push for Israel's disarmament, as the main threat to the region,” he adds. Israel reportedly has more than 200 nuclear weapons. [BBC, 8/23/2000; BBC, 7/5/2000; BBC, 10/21/2003; Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 06/1998]
          

(Early September 2004)

       In a report to Congress, the Pentagon discloses its intention to sell 5,000 smart bombs to Israel. Included in the $319 million deal—to be financed by US aid money—are 500 one-ton bunker busters capable of penetrating two-meter-thick cement walls, 2,500 regular one-ton bombs, 1,000 half-ton bombs, and 500 quarter-ton bombs. According to the Pentagon, Israel needs these weapons to maintain its qualitative advantage and to promote US strategic and tactical interests. The sale is likely to go through despite Israel having used a one-ton bomb to assassinate a senior Hamas officer, Salah Shehadeh. Fifteen Palestinian civilians, including children, were killed in the internationally condemned attack. [Ha'aretz, 9/21/2004] It is widely speculated that the weapons would be used by Israel in the event that it strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities; Israel and the US have alleged Iran is involved in the development of nuclear weapons. [Seattle Post Intelligencer, 9/30/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 9/24/2005; Herald Tribune, 9/22/2004; Ha'aretz, 9/26/2004]
          

February 2005

       During a private meeting of Ariel Sharon's inner cabinet at the prime minister's private ranch in the Negev desert, Sharon gives “initial authorization” for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. [Sunday Times, 3/13/2005]
          

March 13, 2005

       The Sunday Times reports that Israel has drawn up plans for a combined air and ground attack on Iranian nuclear installations if Tehran does not give up its nuclear program. The plans have been discussed with US officials who, according to the Times, “are said to have indicated provisionally that they would not stand in Israel's way if all international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear projects failed.” In preparation for the possible military strike, Israel has conducted military exercises using a mock-up of Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant. “Their tactics include raids by Israel's elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and air strikes by F-15 jets from 69 Squadron, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities,” the Sunday Times says. [Sunday Times, 3/13/2005] Ariel Sharon gave “initial authorization” for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities a month earlier (see February 2005).
          

April 28, 2005

       Russian President Vladimir Putin dismisses Israeli concerns that Russian sales of nuclear components to Iran represent a threat to Israel's security. According to the terms of Russia's agreement with Iran, Putin explains, Iran must return all of its spent nuclear fuel to Russia so it cannot be used for military purposes. [Associated Press, 4/28/2005]
          


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