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US confrontation with Iran

 
  

Project: US confrontation with Iran

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Showing 101-200 of 239 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

Mid-August 2004

       Brig. Gen. Muhammad Baqer Zolqadr, Iran's deputy chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards, says in a statement that Iran would launch an immediate retaliation if Israel were to strike Iran's nuclear facilities “If Israel fires a missile into the Bushehr nuclear power plant, it has to say goodbye forever to its Dimona nuclear facility, where it produces and stockpiles nuclear weapons,” he says. [UPI, 8/22/2004]
          

July 2004

       The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) publishes a 79-page report, titled “Iran: Time for a New Approach,” urging Washington to resume talks with Tehran. The study, co-chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), argues against the view—held by many prominent neoconservatives in Washington—that Iranians would welcome a US-led effort to change Iran's government. “Despite considerable political flux and popular dissatisfaction,” the report says, “Iran is not on the verge of another revolution. Those forces that are committed to preserving Iran's current system remain firmly in control.” Instead, it argues, Washington should resume bilateral talks with the government. The authors of the report also argue that the administration should discourage Israel from attacking Iran's nuclear facilities because of the “extremely adverse consequences” that such an action would have on Western relations with Iran and because it would likely provoke an Iranian retaliation against US positions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report recommends a five-step process: [Inter Press Service, 7/20/2004 Sources: Iran: Time for a New Approach]
The US should offer Tehran a “direct dialog on specific issues of regional stabilization.” [Inter Press Service, 7/20/2004]

The administration should work out an agreement with Iran on the status of al-Qaeda operatives being detained by Tehran and that of the militant Iranian exile group, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq which is currently being held in US custody in Iraq. Tehran would have to agree not to provide any support to groups seeking to violently oppose the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. [Inter Press Service, 7/20/2004]

The administration should work with Europe and Russia to negotiate an agreement with Iran requiring it to permanently ban all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. In exchange, The US should end its objections to an Iranian civil nuclear program. [Inter Press Service, 7/20/2004]

Washington should take a lead role in resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which the report notes is “central to eventually stemming the tide of extremism in the region” [Inter Press Service, 7/20/2004]

The US should encourage an expansion of trade and relations between Iran and the wider world and support Iran's application to begin accession talks with the World Trade Organization (WTO). [Inter Press Service, 7/20/2004]

People and organizations involved: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Council on Foreign Relations
          

July 2004

       After a 16-month review by the US State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bush administration says it has found no basis to charge any of the 3,800 Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) fighters held in custody by the US at Camp Ashraf with violations of American law. The decision is made in spite of the group's long history of collusion with Saddam Hussein. MEK fought alongside Iraqi forces against Iran during the 1980s (see December 2003) and helped Saddam's internal security forces brutally put down the 1991 Shia uprisings (see 1991). The organization was also responsible for a number of American deaths during the 1970s (see 1970s) and has been listed on the State Department's list of “foreign terrorist organizations” since 1997 (see 1997). “A member of a terrorist organization is not necessarily a terrorist,” a senior American official explains. “To take action against somebody, you have to demonstrate that they have done something.” [New York Times, 7/27/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 7/29/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq, Bush administration
          

July 16-17, 2004

       The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) holds its summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. [Central Asian Gateway Newsletter, 6/2004; GlobalSecurity [.org] website, 7/4/2005] SCO members agree to form the Regional Antiterrorism Structure (RATS), a concept originally conceived in 2002 to encourage the exchange of information and to facilitate improved border coordination between members. [Shanghai Cooperation Organization website, 7/4/2005] Mongolia receives observer status at this summit, paving the way for future membership [GlobalSecurity [.org] website, 7/4/2005] , and Pakistan, Indian, and Iran are considered for possible future membership (see June 6, 2005). [Harvard Asia Quarterly, Fall, 2002]
          

July 21, 2004

       Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, the deputy commanding general in Iraq, says in a memorandum that the US has designated members of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) as “protected persons.” According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, people who are designated as “protected” cannot be punished collectively or forced to leave an occupied country. The members were afforded the new status only after signing an agreement rejecting violence and terrorism, the memo says. [New York Times, 7/27/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 7/29/2004] The memorandum angers Tehran. “We already knew that America was not serious in fighting terrorism,” Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi says, adding that by affording MEK fighters the new status, the US has created a new category of “good terrorists.” “The American resort to the Geneva Conventions to support the terrorist hypocrites [MKO] is naive and unacceptable,” he says. Despite the members' new status and despite having been cleared of any wrongdoing, the US military and the MEK leadership do not allow any of the group's members to leave Camp Ashraf. Several of the members say they were lured into joining the group with false promises and now want to return home to Iran. The MEK has been called cult-like (see ) and its leadership compared to Stalin by former members of the group. [Christian Science Monitor, 7/29/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 12/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq, Geoffrey D. Miller
          

July 22, 2004

       The Senate approves Senate Concurrent Resolution 81 (S.Con.Res.81) calling on Iran to immediately and permanently halt all efforts to acquire nuclear fuel cycle capabilities, in particular uranium enrichment activities. [S.Con.Res.81] The resolution, introduced by Senators Jon Kyl (R-Az) and Diane Feinstein (D-Ca)the year before [Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, 10/15/2003] , reminds Iran of its obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) never to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, lists several areas of concern, and urges the European Union to take a tougher stance against the country. It also calls for Japan to halt development of Iran's Azadegan oil field, and France and Malaysia to withdraw their agreements with Iran to develop Iran's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fields. Additionally, it orders the suspension of all investment and investment-related activities that support Iran's energy industry. [S.Con.Res.81]
          

July 23, 2004

       Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, authors the commentary “The Hawks and the Doves Are Aflutter over US Iran Policy.” Pletka provides a number of recommendations. “The fact is, neither tough love nor tough talk will achieve results in Iran because [Iranian] government—not just the so-called hard-liners but the ‘moderates’ and ‘pragmatists’ as well—are committed to supporting terrorism, developing nuclear weapons and annihilating Israel... First, ... we must use the diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to embarrass the regime for its abysmal human rights abuses, rally behind dissident student groups and unions and let them know that the US supports their desire for a secular democratic state in Iran. Second, the administration must persuade the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency to stand firm in their confrontation over Iran's nuclear programs... Finally, the US must lead in the containment of Iran. Iranian weapons imports and exports should be interdicted; financial transfers to terrorists must be identified and confiscated; terrorists traveling into and out of Iran should be aggressively pursued and eliminated. These steps would not deliver quick solutions, but they are the only rational course available to the US and its allies. We have seen that engagement with the current leadership of Iran would not achieve policy change; all it would do is buy an evil regime the time it needs to perfect its nuclear weapons and to build a network of terrorists to deliver them.” [American Enterprise Institute, 7/23/2005]
People and organizations involved: Danielle Pletka
          

August 17, 2004

       Adam Ereli, the deputy spokesman at the State Department, says, “Iran is engaged in a clandestine nuclear weapons program,” Ereli adds that “This program is a matter of concern to the international community.” [Associated Press, 8/17/2004]
          

September 2004

       The Shreveport Times, of Louisiana, interviews Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the 8th Air Force, who tells the newspaper that his fleet of B-2 and B-52 bombers are on alert to launch strikes anywhere in the world against enemy countries suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction. “We're now at the point where we are essentially on alert,” Carlson says, adding that his forces are the US Strategic Command's “focal point for global strike” (see also July 2004) and have the capability to execute an attack “in half a day or less.” [Shreveport Times, 9/8/2004; Washington Post, 5/15/2005]
          

(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]
          

September 2004

       The Atlantic Monthly magazine commissions retired military officers, intelligence officials, and diplomats to participate in a war game scenario involving Iran. The three-hour war game deals “strictly with how an American President might respond, militarily or otherwise, to Iran's rapid progress toward developing nuclear weapons.” Its main objective is to simulate the decision-making process that would likely take place during a meeting of the “Principals Committee” in the event that Iran ignores the deadline set by the IAEA to meet its demands. Kenneth Pollack, of the Brookings Institution, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, of the American Enterprise Institute, both play the role of secretary of state—Pollack with a more Democratic perspective and Gerecht as more of a Republican. David Kay plays the CIA director and Kenneth Bacon, a chief Pentagon spokesman during the Clinton Administration, is the White House chief of staff. Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, serves mostly as National Security Adviser, but plays other roles as well. He is also the person who designed the game. During the game, Israel's influence on the administration's Iran policy is highlighted, with Pollack noting at one point, “[I]n the absence of Israeli pressure how seriously would the United States be considering” the use of military force against Iran? One of the largest concerns raised, shared by all of the participants, is that a US attack on Iran would provoke the Iranians to interfere in Iraq. “[O]ne of the things we have going for us in Iraq, if I can use that term, is that the Iranians really have not made a major effort to thwart us ... If they wanted to make our lives rough in Iraq, they could make Iraq hell.” At the conclusion of the three-hour exercise, it is apparent that the players believe that the game's scenario offered the US no feasible options for using military force against Iran. [Atlantic Monthly, 12/2004; Guardian, 1/18/2005]
People and organizations involved: Kenneth Pollack, Sam Gardiner, Reuel Marc Gerecht, David Kay
          

September 2, 2004

       The International Atomic Energy Agency announces that weapons inspectors have found no evidence to support accusations that Iran is secretly developing a nuclear weapon. [CNN, 9/2/2004]
People and organizations involved: International Atomic Energy Agency
          

September 24, 2004

       Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf meet at the Roosevelt Inn in Manhattan for an India-Pakistan summit to discuss how relations between the two countries can be improved. During the discussions, they consider the possibility of the long proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (see 1993). “Such a project could contribute to the welfare and prosperity of the people of both countries and should be considered in the larger context of expanding trade and economic relations between India and Pakistan,” they say in a joint statement. [Indo-Asian News Service, 9/24/2004; Associated Press, 9/24/2004]
          

September 25, 2004

       Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill) says in an interview with the Chicago Daily Tribune that the US may one day need to use military force against Iran or Pakistan to prevent extremists from gaining control of nuclear weapons. He suggests that one possible scenario requiring the use force might be if Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is overthrown in a coup and extremists take over. Military force may also be necessary if negotiations with Iran fail, he says. “I guess my instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran. ... And I hope it doesn't get to that point,” he says. [Chicago Daily Tribune, 9/25/2004]
People and organizations involved: Barack Obama
          

October 25, 2004

       Vice President Dick Cheney says during a “town hall meeting” at Minnesota State University: “They're already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas. Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy.” [White House, 10/5/2004] The Washington Post later notes that “Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and outgoing Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz held key national security posts when the Ford administration made the opposite argument 30 years ago.” (see 1976) [Washington Post, 3/27/2005]
          

October 29, 2004

       China and Iran negotiate a $70-$100 billion deal that gives China's state oil company a 51 percent stake in Iran's Yadavaran oil field, located near the Iraq border. The Yadavaran oil field, once thought to be two separate oil fields (Koushk and Hosseinieh), contains more than 3 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a total reserve of 17 billion barrels. [Washington Post, 11/17/2004; Chinese Daily, 11/8/2004] China agrees to purchase ten million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually for a 25-year period once Iran has constructed plants to liquefy the natural gas, a feat that could take more than five years. The amount could increase to as much as $200 billion if an oil deal, currently under negotiation, is also agreed upon by the two nations. [Persian Journal, 10/31/2004] As part of the deal, Sinopec, China's state oil company, will have the right to exploit Iran's Yadavaran oil field, located near the Iraq border, on a buy-back basis in cooperation with another major international oil company. The Yadavaran oil field contains more than 3 billion barrels of exploitable reserves and comprises the Koushk and Hosseinieh oil fields, “which were recently found to be connected at various layers, forming an oil field with a cumulative in-place reserve of 17 billion barrels,” the Chinese Daily reports. [Chinese Daily, 11/8/2004] Iran is estimated to have a 26.6-trillion-cubic-meter gas reservoir, the second-largest in the world. About half of its reserves are located offshore. Some observers suggest that the Iran-China agreement could establish a precedent that opens the way for other nations to do business with Iran. The US Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (ILSA), which penalizes foreign companies for investing more than $20 million in Iran's oil and gas industry, has so far discouraged many companies from doing a large amount of business with the Islamic state. [Asia Times, 11/6/2005] Additionally, the Iran-China deal dramatically reduces the Bush administration's leverage over Iran, as its threat to bring Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program is greatly weakened by the fact that China, as a permanent member, holds a veto at the council. [Washington Post, 11/17/2005]
          

November 2004

       The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) begins investigating a 1987 meeting (See also 1987) where two associates of Abdul Qadeer Khan presented Iranian officials with an offer to sell Iran nuclear technology and materials . [Washington Post, 2/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: International Atomic Energy Agency, Abdul Qadeer Khan
          

November 2004

       In Washington, 15,000 attend a rally supporting the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), a militant Iranian opposition group that has an office in the capital. Representative Bob Filner, a Democrat from San Diego, speaks at the demonstration and calls for the removal of MEK from the State Department's terrorist list. [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/25/2005; Los Angeles Times, 12/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq, Bob Filner
          

November 22, 2004

       Iran agrees to suspend nuclear enrichment activities at its Isfahan and Natanz nuclear plants. The deal was arranged by Britain, France, and Germany. Iran insists the facilities are for peaceful civilian use and are not capable of producing the quantity or quality of refined products needed for the development of nuclear weapons. [BBC, 11/22/2004]
          

November 24, 2004

       Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz meets with Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar in Delhi. Summarizing the meeting, Aiyar tells the press: “We did repeat what we have said earlier about using Pakistan as [a] transit corridor [for sourcing gas from Iran] creating mutual dependency [and] ... we need to replicate such mutual dependency ... in the wider trade and economic relationship between the two countries.” It has been reported that Washington is pressuring Pakistan not to enter into any sort of pipeline agreement with Iran. “The project, if it materializes, would also foreclose whatever prospects remain of the revival of the trans-Afghan pipeline project, which many still see as a raison d'etre of the US intervention in Afghanistan,” the Asian Times notes. [Asia Times, 1/11/2005]
          

December 2004

       Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visits Kabul, Afghanistan. During his visit Afghan President Hamid Karzai consents to Washington's decision to establish nine more permanent military bases in the country. The bases, to be manned by 2,200 troops, will be constructed in Helmand, Herat, Nimrouz, Balkh, Khost and Paktia. In the provinces of Khost and Paktia, there will be two bases. [News Insight, 3/5/2005] Observers note that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had little choice in the matter given that his government's continuing existence is dependent upon the private security forces provided by the US. [Asia Times, 3/30/2005]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Hamid Karzai
          

December 2, 2004

       The New York Times reports that according to unnamed diplomats, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes that satellite photographs indicate Iran may be testing high explosives and that procurement records suggest Iran may have the equipment necessary for making bomb-grade uranium. [Reuters, 12/2/2004] This information was reportedly provided by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). [BBC, 11/18/2004] UN diplomats tell Reuters that inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would like to inspect Iranian military sites at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, and Lavizan II, in northeastern Tehran. However, the IAEA is not permitted to inspect those sites because it only has legal authority to visit sites where there are declared civilian nuclear programs. [Reuters, 12/2/2004] Five buildings in Parchin will later be inspected by the IAEA in January 2005 (see Mid-January 2005).
          

December 8, 2004

       Knight Ridder reports that, according to US officials, congressional aides and other sources, Pentagon and White House officials “are developing plans to increase public criticism of Iran's human-rights record, offer stronger backing to exiles and other opponents of Iran's repressive theocratic government and collect better intelligence on Iran.” Additionally, the administration would like to withdrawal troops from Iraq so Bush would have “greater flexibility in dealing with Iran,” one official tells the newspaper. [Knight Ridder, 12/8/2004] The news agency also says that the US is using the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) as a source for intelligence on Iran's weapons programs, even though the organization “remains on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist groups.” [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 12/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq
          

December 12, 2004

       James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, writes an analytical piece on the subject of engagement with Iran: “Washington is not ready to join the Europeans in negotiating limits on Iran's program, nor is it willing to offer any incentives. Conversely, the United States cannot threaten Iran with political isolation or economic sanctions because America already has in place a comprehensive economic embargo and blackout on communication.” Dobbins adds that “America has refused to negotiate, to offer concessions or to join in multilateral economic and political arrangements that its European allies may negotiate.... [W]hile Europe offers carrots, Washington brandishes no sticks. Given American difficulties in Iraq, a military invasion of Iran is implausible. An aerial attack on known nuclear sites in Iran might slow that country's weapons program, but only at the cost of accelerated efforts at clandestine sites.... Washington is no more than an excited bystander offering advice from a safe distance.” In conclusion, Dobbins states that: “If blocking Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations is as urgent as it would seem, then engagement on that issue is imperative. At present, nothing Iran does or fails to do will alter the American posture. This unyielding attitude undercuts the prospects for Europe's effort to negotiate a positive resolution to the nuclear crisis. It also provides the weakest possible basis for common action in the absence of such a settlement.” [Rand Corporation, 12/2/2004]
          

Late 2004

       Two Iranians attempting to illegally export thousands of American-made night-vision systems to Iran are arrested in Vienna by US and Austrian authorities. [Associated Press, 3/26/2005]
          

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

       Iran reportedly begins preparing its military defenses for a possible US attack. An article in the Washington Times quotes one unnamed Iranian official who says “Iran would respond within 15 minutes to any attack by the United States or any other country.” Iranian newspapers report that Iran is expanding its 7-million-strong “Basiji” militia forces. Interviewed by the Times, a Western military expert based in Tehran says he believes Iran would not attempt to repel an initial invasion by US forces but would rather engage them in asymmetrical warfare once they are in. [Newhouse News Service, 2/21/05; The Washington Times 2/19/05]
          

January 2005

       The Guardian of London interviews Reuel Marc Gerecht, a prominent neoconservative at the American Enterprise Institute, about the Bush administration's policy in Iran. Gerecht, who is also a former CIA officer, says he believes that US strikes on Iran could set back Iran's nuclear program. “It would certainly delay [the program] and it can be done again. It's not a one-time affair. I would be shocked if a military strike could not delay the program.” Gerecht says that members of the Bush administration have not yet agreed on a policy for dealing with Iran and that the internal debate is just beginning. “Iraq has been a fairly consuming endeavor, but it's getting now toward the point where people are going to focus on [Iran] hard and have a great debate.” [Guardian, 1/18/2005]
People and organizations involved: Reuel Marc Gerecht
          

January 2005

       Iran hands over documents from a 1987 meeting in Dubai (See also 1987) to a International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation (See also November 2004). During the 1987 meeting, associates of Abdul Qadeer Khan presented Iranian officials with an offer to sell Iran the technology and materials to build a nuclear bomb. However, the IAEA does not uncover any evidence suggesting that the equipment was used in anything other than Iran's civilian nuclear energy program. The violations are technical and based only on the fact that Iran failed to report the program. Despite its recent findings, the IAEA investigation claims it still lacks a clear understanding of Iran's nuclear program. [Washington Post, 2/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Qadeer Khan
          

Early January 2005

       In Delhi, the India government hosts the first-ever round-table of Asian oil ministers from the Persian Gulf, China and Southeast Asia. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanghaneh recommends creating an Asian Bank for Energy Development to finance energy projects in Asia, such as the long-proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (see 1993). He also calls for lower prices for Asian energy supplies that are sold to Asian consumers. [Asia Times, 1/11/2005; World Peace Herald, 1/17/2005]
          

(Early January 2005)

       Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh interviews a government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon about the administration's plans to invade Iran. He says that Pentagon officials, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, believe that a limited attack on Iran would inspire a secular revolution in the country. “The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse,” the consultant says. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005; CNN, 1/17/2005]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz
          

(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

       Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar announces that he has invited Iranian officials to visit Delhi to discuss the long proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas-pipeline project (see 1993). “A delegation from Iran will visit India on the eve of the Asian gas buyers' summit commencing on February 14 to initiate negotiations on a term-sheet for the delivery of Iranian natural gas by pipeline at the India-Pakistan border,” he says. “Our anticipated demand in 2025 for gas would be 400 million standard cubic meters (mscm) per day. Our output today is less than 100 mscm per day. It is not possible to meet the incremental demand from domestic production.... [I]mport of LNG, and natural gas through [a] pipeline is needed to meet the demands of the growing economy.” [Asia Times, 1/11/2005]
          

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
          

January 7, 2005

       India announces that it has agreed to a $40 billion deal with Iran. Under the terms of the agreement, the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) will sell 5 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually to India over a 25-year period with the possibility of increasing the quantity to 7.5 million tons. India's price will be computed at 0.065 of Brent crude average plus $1.2 with an upper ceiling of $31 per barrel. As part of the deal, India's ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) will participate in the development of Yadavaran, Iran's largest oil field. India's share in the oil field will be 20 percent, which translates into roughly 60,000 barrels per day of oil. Iran has retained a 30 percent stake while the Chinese state oil company Sinopec secured a 50 percent share in an agreement signed at the end of October (see October 29, 2004). India's deal with Iran will also provide India with 100 percent of the rights in the 300,000-barrel-per-day Jufeir oilfield. [Asia Times, 1/11/2005; World Peace Herald, 1/17/2005] The agreement could give new impetus to the long proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (see 1993). The Tehran Times, which is known to represent the views of the Iranian government, comments, “The Iran-India agreement on LNG exports will pave the way for the implementation of the project to pipe Iranian gas to India via Pakistan and the dream of the peace pipeline could become a reality in the near future.” [Asia Times, 1/11/2005]
          

January 12, 2005

       The Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC hosts the “Transition 2005: US Policy Toward Iran” discussion with David Kay and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution. Pollack states that “...the MEK as best I can tell, [inaudible] on the intelligence community, has very little support inside of Iran.” [Council on Foreign Relations, 1/12/2005]
People and organizations involved: Council on Foreign Relations, David Kay, Kenneth Pollack
          

Mid-January 2005

       Iran allows International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit five buildings at the Parchin military site in response to US allegations that Iran has used the site to test explosives components for a nuclear bomb. Other buildings in the area, and four other areas at the Parchin site that the agency has identified as being of potential interest, remain off limits to inspectors. During their visit, the inspectors take samples from Parchin to test for the presence of nuclear activity. [BBC, 1/19/2005; Global Security (.org), 2005; The Weekend Australian, 1/13/2005; BBC, 1/5/2005; BBC, 1/19/2005]
          

January 25, 2005

       Military analyst Bill Arkin publishes 3,000 US military code names along with brief descriptions in his book Code Names: Deciphering US Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World. Included in his list is CONPLAN 8022 (see May 15, 2005), a top-secret pre-emptive plan to take out nuclear facilities and other threats in Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Another plan mentioned is Oplan 4305, which is a contingency plan for defending of Israel. [MSNBC, 5/17/2005; MSNBC, 2/10/2005; Arkin, 2005] Retired CIA officer Bill McNair accuses Arkin of “...endangering national security.” [MSNBC, 2/10/2005]
          

January 31, 2005

       The National Iranian American Council releases findings from a national letter writing campaign, conducted between January 24 and 29, indicating that 98.1 percent of Iranian Americans would be opposed to the use of US military force against Iran. 89.5 percent of the participants said they favored negotiations between US and Iran as the best way to address current tensions. 30.4 percent supported joint disarmament of both Iran and Israel. [National Iranian American Council, 1/31/2005]
          

Late January 2005

       Iran and Russia agree to work jointly on the design and launch of the first Iranian communications satellite, Zohre, at a cost of $132 million. One of the signers to the agreement, Felix Myasnikov, the general director of the Aviaexport, says he believes “that the contract will be a starting point for Russian-Iranian cooperation in space exploration as well as in other spheres of high technologies, in particular, in the aircraft industry.” [Islamic Republic News Agency, 1/31/2005]
          

Early February 2005

       Sri Lankan, Buhary Syed Abu Tahir, is accused by President Bush of being the chief financial officer for an international nuclear black market linked to Abdul Qadeer Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb. Tahir sat on the board Kaspudu Sendirian Berhad- owned my the Malaysian prime minister's son, Kamaluddin Abdullah. The Associated Press claim that a search of publicly accessible files reveal the paper trail that outlines links between Kamaluddin Abdullah and Buhary Syed Abu Tahir. The paperwork revealed that Tahir and Kamaluddin Abdullah were both executives at Kaspudu Sendirian Berhad when Tahir made a deal for Scomi Precision Engineering to build components that Western intelligence sources claim were for use in Libya's nuclear program. The Scomi Group fulfilled a $3.5 million manufacturing contract for machine parts negotiated by Tahir. Scomi officials say the did know what the parts were for while Nonproliferation authorities claim they were for 14 centrifuges. US officials insist the components, tubes made up of thousands of small pieces, could only be used in a uranium-enrichment program. A Scomi spokeswoman insisted that the company was told the parts were for the oil and gas industry. After the revelation Kamaluddin Abdullah severed ties to Tahir. Malaysian Police say neither Tahir or Scomi have committed any crime and no arrests have been made, which the official government report backed up. President Bush has accused Tahir of using a Dubai based company (Gulf Technical Industries) as a front for Khan's network. (See also: February 12, 2004 ) [Time, 2/16/2005; CNN, 2/18/2005; Malaysian Government Report, 2/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Qadeer Khan
          

February 1, 2005

       On a visit to Moscow, Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Shafei says that Iran hopes to work jointly with Russia in space and announces for the first time ever that “Russian-Iranian cooperation is also developing in the military and technical sphere.” [Middle East News Online, 2/3/2005; Islamic Republic News Agency, 2/1/2005]
          

February 2005

       Two thousand Austrian Steyr Mannlicher GmbH high-powered armor-piercing sniper rifles are delivered to Iran, to be used as part of Iran's effort to clamp down on the drug smugglers pouring in across the border from Afghanistan. The weapons deal, approved by Austria in November 2004, is opposed by the US, which expressed concerns that the weapons could ultimately be used against US soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and potentially Iran. [Arms Technology, 4/4/2005; Associated Press, 3/26/2005]
          

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]
          

February 2005

       The Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) says that it has provided the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) with information that Iran is now producing polonium-210, beryllium, and neutron generators, giving Iran the capability to produce a detonator. MEK claims that Iran plans to have a nuclear weapon by the end of 2005. Mohammed Mohaddessin, head of the group's foreign affairs committee, tells reporters that the information was obtained from “the Iranian people” and MEK's network inside Iran. [Associated Press, 2/3/2005; Associated Press, 2/3/2005]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq
          

February 2, 2005

       General Electric (GE) follows Halliburton and ConocoPhillips, announcing that the company will no longer accept business from Iran. “Because of uncertain conditions related to Iran, including concerns about meeting future customer commitments, we will not accept any new orders for business in Iran effective Feb. 1,” explains Gary Sheffer, a GE spokesman. “This moratorium on new orders will be re-evaluated as conditions relating to Iran change.” [Associated Press, 2/2/2005; Forbes, 2/2/2005] Under current US law, companies are barred from doing business with nations that the US State Department has said are sponsors of terrorism. However the law does not prohibit a company's foreign subsidiaries from engaging in such business. [Associated Press, 2/2/2005; BBC, 7/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Halliburton, Inc.
          

February 9, 2005

       In an op-ed piece published by the Washington Post, David Kay, formerly of the Iraq Survey Group, recommends five steps the US should follow in order to avoid making the same “mistake” it made in Iraq when it wrongly concluded that Iraq had an active illicit weapons program. Three of the points address the issue of politicized intelligence. He implies that the US should learn from the experience it had with the Iraqi National Congress (see 2001-2003), which supplied US intelligence with sources who made false statements about Iraq's weapon program. “Dissidents and exiles have their own agenda—regime change—and that before being accepted as truth any ‘evidence’ they might supply concerning Iran's nuclear program must be tested and confirmed by other sources,” he says. In his fourth point, Kay makes it clear that the motives of administration officials should also be considered. He says it is necessary to “understand that overheated rhetoric from policymakers and senior administration officials, unsupported by evidence that can stand international scrutiny, undermines the ability of the United States to halt Iran's nuclear activities.” And recalling the CIA's infamous 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq (see October 1, 2002), he says that an NIE on Iran “should not be a rushed and cooked document used to justify the threat of military action” and “should not be led by a team that is trying to prove a case for its boss.” [Washington Post, 2/9/05]
People and organizations involved: David Kay
          

Mid-February 2005

       Newsweek interviews Maryam Rajavi, one of the leaders of Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), at the organization's compound in the French village of Auvers sur Oise. “I believe increasingly the Americans have come to realize that the solution is an Iranian force that is able to get rid of the Islamic fundamentalists in power in Iran,” Rajavi tells the magazine. She also insists that her group's history of anti-Americanism has long past. [Newsweek, 2/15/2005]
People and organizations involved: Maryam Rajavi, Mujahedeen-e Khalq
          

February 14, 2005

       Newsweek reports that there is disagreement in the Bush administration over what to do with 3,800 Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) fighters being held in custody by the US at Camp Ashraf (see April 2003). The magazine says that parts of the Defense Department want “to cull useful MEK members as operatives for use against Tehran, all while insisting that it does not deal with the MEK as a group.” They would be sent to Iran to gather intelligence and possibly reawaken a democratic movement in Iran. The CIA however has objected to this strategy “because senior officers regard them as unreliable cultists under the sway of Rajavi and her husband,” Newsweek explains. A Defense Department spokesman however denies there is any “cooperation agreement” with the MEK and claims that the Pentagon has no plans for using MEK members in any capacity. But an MEK official interviewed by Newsweek said the opposite: “They [want] to make us mercenaries.” Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California, also feels the Defense Department has plans for MEK members. “The Defense Department is thinking of them as buddies and the State Department sees them as terrorists. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle,” he told Newsweek. [Newsweek, 2/15/2005]
          

February 16, 2005

       In Iran, a blast occurring at a dam construction site near the town of Dailam triggers false reports of a missile strike on Iran's Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant. News of the blast sends stocks on Wall Street downward and pushes up oil prices. Iranian official Ali Agha Mohammadi of the Supreme National Security Council claims that the false reports were engineered by Washington as part of “psychological warfare” against Tehran. [Reuters, 2/17/2005; Associated Press, 2/16/2005]
          

February 18, 2005

       Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail, tells a packed house at Olympia Washington's Capitol Theater that George W. Bush has “signed off” on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005. [United For Peace of Pierce County, 2/19/2005]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, George W. Bush
          

February 21, 2005

       Sam Seder, hosting Air America's Randi Rhodes show, interviews Scott Ritter about statements he made at Olympia's Capitol Theater three days earlier (see February 18, 2005). Responding to a question about possible US military air strikes on Iran, Ritter says: “I have sources, which are unimpeachable, which I would not state who they are, who told me in October of 2004 that the president had been briefed on military strike options against Iran that were to commence in June of 2005. And that the president signed off on these plans.” [The Randi Rhodes Show, 2/21/2005]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, George W. Bush
          

February 22, 2005

       During a news conference with European Union leaders in Brussels, President Bush says that rumors suggesting the US is preparing to strike Iran are “simply ridiculous.” But he quickly adds that “all options are on the table.” [Reuters, 2/22/2005; Associated Press, 2/22/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

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]
          

February 22, 2005

       Five US senators—John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and Russ Feingold—visit Kabul. McCain tells reporters that he is committed to a “strategic partnership that we believe must endure for many, many years.” He says that as part of this partnership, the US would provide “economic assistance, technical assistance, military partnership, ... and ... cultural exchange.” He also adds that in his opinion, this would mean the construction of “permanent bases.” The bases would help the US protect its “vital national security interests,” he explains. However, a Karzai spokesman reminds the press that the approval of a yet-to-be-created Afghan parliament would be needed before the Afghan government could allow the bases to be built. McCain's office will later amend the senator's comments, saying that he was advocating a long-term commitment to helping Afghanistan “rid itself of the last vestiges of Taliban and al-Qaeda.” That does not necessarily mean that the US will have to have permanent bases, the office explains. [Associated Press, 2/22/2005]
People and organizations involved: Russell D. Feingold, John McCain, Lindsey Graham
          

February 25, 2005

       Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev says during a news conference that the foreign ministries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are reviewing membership applications submitted by Iran and Pakistan. [Interfax Kyrgyzstan News, 2/25/2005]
People and organizations involved: Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
          

February 25, 2005

       Hassan Rowhani, Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator, tells France's Le Monde newspaper that Iran may be hiding its nuclear technology inside special tunnels because of threats of attack by the United States. Rowhani is asked, “Is it accurate that Iran has built tunnels meant to serve Iran's nuclear activities?” He responds that these reports “could be true.” “From the moment the Americans threaten to attack our nuclear sites, what are we to do? We have to put them somewhere,” Rowhani says. [USA Today, 2/25/2005]
          

February 27, 2005

       Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, and Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh sign a nuclear fuel supply deal. Under the provisions of the agreement, Russia will supply Iran with uranium fuel for Iran's Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant, which once complete will produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity. Iran will be required to return all of the spent fuel to Russia to prevent the possibility that some of it will be used to produce bomb-grade plutonium. According to Rumyantsev, the first batch of enriched uranium fuel is waiting in Siberia ready to be shipped. [Los Angeles Times, 2/28/2005; Reuters, 2/27/2005] Russia's more than $1 billion contract to build the reactor is said to have played a significant role in maintaining the strength of Russia's nuclear energy industry. Russia, which has sent more than 2,000 workers to work with 3,000 Iranians at Bushehr, is keen on securing more contracts with the Iranian government. An additional 1,500 Russian specialists are scheduled to go to Bushehr soon to install more equipment. [Los Angeles Times, 2/28/2005]
          

Late February 2005

       US ambassador to New Delhi David Mulford informs India's Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar in a meeting that the Bush administration has reservations about Indian attempts to strike a deal with Iran on the long proposed $3-4 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas-pipeline project (see 1993). According to the Indian Express, the meeting marks the first time the US has formally conveyed its concerns about the pipeline proposal. [Dawn, 3/11/2005; Agence France-Presse, 3/10/2005; Voice of America, 3/17/2005]
          

March 1, 2005

       The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports in a statement to its 35-member board that the agency's inspectors continue to have lingering questions about Iranian activities at the Parchin military site and that Iran has denied requests for additional visits to the complex. [BBC, 3/1/2005] Iran claims that it is not legally required to allow further inspections at Parchin, reasoning in a February 27 note to the IAEA that the “expectation of the Safeguards Department in visiting specified zones and points in Parchin Complex are fulfilled and thus there is no justification for any additional visit.” The agency disagrees. [New York Times, 3/1/2005] Additionally, the agency says in its statement that Iran has failed to provide information on how Iran obtained its advanced P-2 centrifuge equipment. The inspectors also say they are concerned about certain dual-use technologies at the Lavisan site, which Iran is also refusing to open to inspectors. [New York Times, 3/1/2005] A Western diplomat says the statement demonstrates “another failure to disclose activities, which fits a disturbing pattern,” adding, “It's more evidence that the Iranians are unwilling to provide full disclosure.” [New York Times, 3/1/2005] But other officials note that the statement contains no evidence that Iran has an active weapons program. “The facts don't support an innocent or guilty verdict at this point,” one agency official observes. [New York Times, 3/1/2005]
          

(March 1, 2005)

       In response to a BBC request for her views on the crisis in Iran, Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute says: “The longer we wait and the more we negotiate, the longer Iran has to pursue a covert program.... The road to co-operation between Europe and the US involves pursuing the ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine because it will force the Iranians to be serious about dealing with the friendlier party. However, there's a suspicion in the US and in Europe, and a strong certainty in Iran, that when push comes to shove, the Europeans aren't going to be willing to cut the ties with the Iranians and say simply that Iran has been cheating, the deal is broken. We need to persuade the Europeans that even if you're the good cop, you have to be prepared to pull the gun and make the arrest.” [BBC, 3/1/2005; Christian Science Monitor, 3/2/2005]
People and organizations involved: Danielle Pletka
          

March 2005

       More than 250 members of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), a militant Iranian opposition group, return to Iran from Camp Ashraf in Iraq, accepting Iran's December offer of amnesty. For years, the MEK leadership has assured the group's members they faced certain death if they returned to Iran. Many remaining MEK members, over 3,500 in Iraq alone, say they are skeptical of the Iranian government's promises and [Christian Science Monitor, 3/22/2005] dismiss the defectors as “quitters.” According to the Los Angeles Times, which interviewed several of Camp Ashraf's residents, remaining MEK members appear to “show no interest” in going back. [Los Angeles Times, 3/19/2005]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq
          

March 2, 2005

       Jackie Sanders, chief US delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors, accuses Iran of “cynically” pursuing the development of nuclear weapons and attempting to deceive the world with claims that its nuclear program is peaceful. Her comments are in response to a recent report by the IAEA that said that Iran is not cooperating fully with inspectors, is continuing to construct a heavy water reactor despite agency requests to stop building, and is not fulfilling its reporting requirements in a timely fashion. Sanders called the IAEA report a “startling list of Iranian attempts to hide and mislead and delay the work” of the IAEA. [Associated Press, 3/2/2005]
          

March 2, 2005

       Frances Townsend, Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush, tells the Club of Madrid, “State sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Syria are with the terrorists and therefore against all of us.” She adds, “From this day forward the community of nations must be united in demanding a complete end to the state sponsorship of terrorism.” Praising Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, she refers to them as “ever stronger partners in the war against terror.” [Reuters, 3/2/2005]
People and organizations involved: Fran Townsend
          

March 4, 2005

       The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) releases satellite images that show a heavy water plant under construction in Iran. Critics of Iran's nuclear program say that once the plant is complete, it will be capable of supplying a heavy water reactor with enough heavy water to produce enough plutonium for one atomic bomb a year. But the heavy water plant is not illegal and Iran does not yet have a heavy water reactor. Iran claims its nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes only. [Reuters, 3/4/2005; Institute for Science and International Security, 3/4/2005]
          

March 4, 2005

       The Bush administration says it will not back Europe's plan to offer Iran economic and political incentives to abandon its uranium enrichment program unless there is a way to enforce it. The Bush administration favors an arrangement where the issue would be hauled before the UN Security Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions, in the event of Iranian non-compliance. [Reuters, 3/4/2005]
          

March 5, 2005

       Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani, says the Middle East will become even more unstable if Iran is sent to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program. “This would be a particular problem for the United States because it has a lot of troops and equipment in [the] region and is in fact our imposed neighbor,” he says. Iran has complained that United States forces have effectively encircled it, with troops stationed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. [Reuters, 3/5/2005]
          

March 7, 2005

       President George Bush selects John Bolton, currently an official in the State Department, to be the US ambassador to the UN. Bolton is a staunch neoconservative with a long record of opposing multilateral efforts. As undersecretary of state for arms control, Bolton opposed a multilateral effort in July 2001 to create broad worldwide controls on the sale of small arms (see ). In February 2002, Bolton made it clear that the Bush administration did not feel bound to the 1978 pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states (see February 2002). Bolton was also a strong advocate of taking unilateral action against Saddam Hussein (see January 26, 1998) and in May 2002, he effectively removed the US signature from the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see ). [USA Today, 3/7/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, John R. Bolton
          

March 8, 2005

       The New York Times reports that a nine-member bipartisan presidential panel is due to provide President Bush with a classified report describing American intelligence on Iran and North Korea by March 31 (see April 2, 2005). After a 14-month review, the panel, led by Laurence Silberman, a retired federal judge, and Charles S. Robb, a former governor and senator from Virginia, will conclude that US intelligence lacks sufficient intelligence to make firm judgments on Iran's weapons programs. The Times reports that one of its sources said the “panel's deliberations and conclusions characterized American intelligence on Iran as ‘scandalous,’ given the importance and relative openness of the country.” [The Times of London, 3/10/05; New York Times, 3/9/2005]
          

March 10, 2005

       Pakistan Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sheikh Rashid Ahmed says that the now pardoned A.Q. Khan was involved in black market nuclear arms deals and that he gave the Iranians centrifuge parts. “[Khan] had given centrifuges to Iran in his individual capacity and the government of Pakistan had nothing to do with this,” Ahmed tells reporters. Despite these acknowledgments, Ahmed says Pakistan “will not hand over [Dr Khan] to any other country.” The Pakistani government insists that it had no knowledge of Dr Khan's activities, but numerous experts have questioned these claims noting that it would have been impossible for him to keep his activities secret. [BBC, March 10, 2005; CNN, March 10, 2005]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Qadeer Khan
          

March 11, 2005

       The United States and European Union (EU) indicate that they are ready to work together on a diplomatic approach to encourage Iran to give up its nuclear program. Condoleezza Rice says that the US is willing to drop it objections to Iran's application to the WTO and “consider, on a case-by-case basis, the licensing of spare parts of Iranian civilian aircraft.” Europe, on the other hand, which has been under pressure from the Bush administration to harden its policy toward Iran, says it will have “no choice” but to support the issue being brought up at the UN Security Council if Iran does not discontinue its suspected nuclear weapons program. Up until now, the US and EU have been unable to agree on a single approach to dealing with Iran. [New York Times, 3/12/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

March 12, 2005

       The India Daily reports that two US Navy aircraft carriers, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Carl Vinson, appear to be heading toward the Middle East where they will be joined by a third carrier group. The newspaper notes that the convergence of three carriers in the region would send a strong signal to both Syria and Iran. [India Daily, 3/12/2005] There is speculation that Iran may face a US naval blockade. [India Daily, 3/15/2005]
          

March 12, 2005

       Iran says that incentives put forward by Europe and the United States the previous day (see March 11, 2005) are meaningless. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to use peaceful nuclear technology and no pressure, intimidation or threat can make Iran give up its right,” says Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. The European Union and United States unveiled a “carrot and stick” approach to pressure Tehran to give up uranium enrichment which can be used to make bomb-grade fuel. Asefi argues that US prohibitions against the sale of aircraft spare parts to Iran should never have been imposed in the first place. “Lifting them is no concession and entering the WTO is a clear right of all countries.” He also says that Iran would be happy to implement measures—such as allowing intrusive UN inspections of its nuclear sites—in order to provide “objective guarantees” that it is not developing nuclear weapons. [Reuters, 3/12/05; Voice of America, 3/12/05]
          

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).
          

March 16, 2005

       Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh signs a memorandum of understanding with his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro that Iran will build a $3 billion refinery in Indonesia. As part of the deal, Indonesia will receive 300,000 barrels per day of heavy crude and Tehran will get a 30 percent stake in PT Pertamina, Indonesia's state oil company. National Iranian Oil Company and Pertamina will lead the four-year project, which Iran hopes will provide security for Iran's market supply. [Bloomberg News, 3/18/2005; Iranian News Agency, 3/16/2005]
          

March 17, 2005

       Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the agency believes Iran will probably have the capability to produce a nuclear weapon “early in the next decade.” [Washington Times, 2/21/2005; Senate Armed Services Committee, 3/17/2005]
People and organizations involved: Lowell E. Jacoby
          

March 18, 2005

       The Ukrainian government admits illegal arms dealers sold 12 Kh55 (X-55) cruise missiles to Iran and six to China in 2001 (see 2001). The missiles, with a range of 1550 miles, would give Iran the capability to strike Israel. The missiles, designed to carry nuclear warheads, were manufactured in 1987 with a reported service life of eight years. Former Russian Air Force commander Viktor Strelnikov and specialists who examined the missiles said that they were marked with the inscription “training.” Iran does not operate long-range bombers and experts say Iran would probably have to adapt its Soviet-built Su-24 strike aircraft to launch the missile. [BBC, 3/18/2005; The Daily Star, 3/18/2005; GlobalSecurity, n.d.; Itar Tass News, 3/18/2005; Financial Times, 3/18/2005]
          

March 19, 2005

       US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the US is opposed to the proposed Iran-India-Pakistan gas pipeline because it would strengthen Iran and thus negatively affect the United States economically. “Our views concerning Iran are very well known by this time, and we have communicated our concerns about gas pipeline cooperation,” she says. [Al Jazeera, 3/19/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

March 21, 2005

       Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, tells pilgrims in Mashad that it is “fiction” that Iran is developing an atomic bomb. He says that he would give his life on the battlefield if Iran were attacked by the US and adds that he would not go into hiding if that were to occur, referring to President Bush's low profile during the September 11 attacks. [Al Jazeera, 3/21/2005]
          

March 24, 2005

       Iran presents the European Union with a proposal whereby Iran would be permitted to produce enriched uranium on a small scale. The proposed pilot plant would have a small number of centrifuges, arranged in successive order to refine out enriched uranium. Experts say the plan would involve 500 to 2,000 centrifuges as opposed to the 54,000 that Iran currently has planned for large-scale industrial use. As part of the proposed agreement, Iranian officials would allow close monitoring of the pilot facility by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). [Agence France-Presse, 3/24/2005]
          

March 24, 2005

       Alireza Jafarzadeh—a former spokesman of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an organization that is listed by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization (see August 15, 2003)—says that according to “well-placed sources” within the Iranian regime, “Iran has completed an underground tunnel-like facility in Parchin, which is now engaged in laser enrichment.” Jafarzadeh, who now heads the Washington-based think-tank Strategic Policy Consulting and regularly serves as a Fox News foreign affairs analyst, also says that “the underground site is camouflaged and built in an area of Parchin that deals with the chemical industry.” It is connected to “Iran's secret nuclear weapons program,” he further claims. The underground facility is reportedly located in an area known as “Plan 1.” [Seattle Times, 3/25/2005; Strategic Policy Consulting, 2/20/2005; Reuters, 3/24/2005; Associated Press, 3/24/2005] Iran has refused to give inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unfettered access to Parchin (see March 1, 2005), and the US alleges that Iran is testing explosive devices there that could be used in nuclear weapons.
          

March 28, 2005

       India's petroleum and natural gas minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, announces that Pakistan has invited India to join them in talks, set for April 2005, with the Iranian government on a proposal to construct a natural gas pipeline from Iran to India. India is Asia's third-largest energy user and has long awaited such an invitation to join the $4 billion, 2,775 km pipeline project. [Bloomberg, 3/28/2005; Agence France Presse, 3/28/2005; BBC, 2/5/2005]
          

March 30, 2005

       Iranian President Mohammad Khatami personally accompanies about 30 journalists deep into the underground nuclear plant at Natanz, a uranium enrichment facility located 250 km (150 miles) south of Tehran. The group of foreign and local journalists is permitted to film and take video footage of the complex. Natanz is built more than 18 meters (54 feet) below ground due to “security problems.” The journalists are shown another facility in the city of Isfahan. “If we were looking to make atomic weapons, we could have completed these [facilities] in hiding,” Khatami tells the reporters. The gesture is viewed by many as an attempt to undermine support for a possible aerial attack by the United States or Israel. [Reuters, 3/30/2005]
          

March 31, 2005

       The Mujahedeen-e Khalq's (MEK) political wing, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), holds a press conference in Paris. Mohammad Mohaddessin of the NCRI tells reporters, “In mid-2004, Khamenei allocated $2.5 billion to obtain three nuclear warheads.” Mohaddessin claims the Iranian regime is accelerating work on a reactor in Arak, 150 miles south of Tehran, which could produce enough plutonium for one atomic bomb per year. “The regime told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the reactor would be operational in 2014, but in reality, they want to start it in 2006 or 2007,” he says. In August 2002, the NCRI first revealed information about the Arak heavy-water production plant, along with the Natanz uranium enrichment plant (see August 2002) describing it then as part of a secret nuclear weapons program. Iran later declared both sites to the IAEA. [Reuters, 3/31/05; MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, 5/12/2005]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq
          

Early April 2005

       Rumors spread in the Arab-dominated western Iranian city of Ahwaz that the government is considering the forced migration of Arabs to Iran's northern provinces. The rumors are based on a letter purportedly written by Iran's vice president, Muhammad Ali Abtahi. [BBC, 4/19/2005; Al Jazeera, 4/17/2005] The Iranian government claims the letter was fabricated by “foreign agents,” and aimed at exploiting ethnic tensions to create civil unrest. [Xinhuanet, 5/26/2005] The Popular Democratic Front of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, however, insists the letter is authentic and represents the regime's long-standing objective to forcibly relocate Arabs. The controversial letter results in clashes between police and ethnic Arabs in Ahwaz. Although Arabs dominate Ahwaz, they account for only three percent of Iran's total population. [Al Jazeera, 4/17/2005; BBC, 4/19/2005]
          

April 1, 2005

       Mani Shankar Aiyar, India's petroleum and natural gas minister, suggests routing the proposed $4.16 billion Iran-India gas pipeline (see 1993) through the heavily populated areas of Pakistan in order to minimize the risk that it will be attacked by militant extremists. This alternative route would run along the Makran coast, past Guadar, through Hub Chowk, into Karachi, and beyond to Umarkot. From there the liquefied gas would flow to the Munnabau-Kokharabad crossing. Aiyer is set to visit Iran in June, to sign a deal for the delivery of Iranian gas from India's border with Pakistan. Pakistan would make a separate deal with the Iranians for the 760-kilometer route through Pakistan. [Asia Times, 4/1/2005]
          

April 2, 2005

       Asian News International reports that according to official Pakistani sources the US government is reconsidering its opposition to the $4.2 billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline (see 1993). The Bush administration has been opposed to the proposed pipeline on grounds that it would help Iran, a potential target of future US military strikes. But since the consortium is hoping to involve US corporations, these companies are apparently putting pressure on the White House to back the pipeline. Without the approval of the US government, the companies would be barred from participating in the pipeline's construction. According sources, the US is considering pursuing a strategy that would leverage its possible support for the pipeline against Iran in its disagreement over the country's nuclear program. [Asian News International, 4/2/2005]
          

April 2, 2005

       As expected (see March 8, 2005), the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction concludes that the CIA's intelligence on Iran is weak. The nine-member commission, headed by Federal appeals court judge, Laurence Silberman, and Charles S. Robb, a former governor and senator from Virginia, finds that US intelligence had few human assets in Iran and only limited direct knowledge of Iran's missile and nuclear programs. [Middle East News Line, 4/2/05; New York Times, 3/9/2005; Los Angeles Times, 4/1/2005]
          

April 2, 2005

       Fox News interviews two retired US military generals and a military expert and asks them to discuss the Bush administration's military options for dealing with Iran. [Fox News, 4/24/2005] They offer four possible scenarios:
Covert action - The Bush administration could send CIA agents or commandos to sabotage Iran's nuclear facilities.

Naval blockade - The US could implement a naval blockade at the Strait of Hormuz and halt Iranian oil exports.

Surgical strikes - The US could launch cruise missiles at Iran's nuclear facilities. “We are moving some aircraft carrier groups into the Persian Gulf as we speak,” notes retired Army Major Gen. Paul Vallely. “They will be positioned to launch any aircraft from the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.” After the cruise missiles, F-117 stealth fighter jets would destroy the country's radar system and B-2 bombers would drop 5,000-pound laser-guided bunker busters on buried targets like the Natanz enrichment site or the deep tunnels in Isfahan.

All-out assault - An all-out assault involving ground troops, according to the experts interviewed by Fox, would be the least likely scenario.

People and organizations involved: Council on Foreign Relations
          

April 11, 2005

       Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute (IRI), praises the Bush administration's plan to spend three million dollars on the “advancement of democracy and human rights” in Iran (see April 11, 2005). “I am pleased to hear it has happened,” he tells United Press International. “The United States has been spreading democracy for years in other countries, it's good we're now doing it in Iran.” He also tells the newswire that IRI hopes to be awarded one of the State Department's “democracy advancement” grants so it can work with Iranian groups. [United Press International, 4/11/2005] Only a year before, the Republican-controlled IRI was implicated in the ousting of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. It was accused of providing a cover for the training of a 600-member paramilitary army of anti-Aristide Haitians (see (2001-2004)).
People and organizations involved: International Republican Institute
          

April 11, 2005

       The Bush administration announces plans to spend $3 million on supporting “the advancement of democracy and human rights” in Iran. The State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor says it expects to award between three and 12 grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million to educational institutions, humanitarian groups, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals. [Associated Press, 4/11/05; US Department of State, 4/8/2005] Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Javad Zarif, says the plan is “a clear violation” of the 1981 Algiers Accords which prohibits the US from intervening “directly or indirectly, politically or militarily in Iran's internal affairs.” [Islamic Republic News Agency, 4/11/05]
          

April 14, 2005

       The National Convention for a Democratic, Secular Republic in Iran is held in Washington, DC and attended by about 300 supporters. Speakers at the event include members of Congress, legal scholars, and Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political wing of Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK). Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) tells the crowd, “Unless we deal with Iran, there will never be a solution in Iraq.” [US Newswire, 4/13/2005; National Convention for a Democratic, Secular Republic in Iran website, 5/27,2005]
People and organizations involved: Maryam Rajavi, Mujahedeen-e Khalq, Bob Filner
          

April 14, 2005

       Speaking at a forum on Middle East peace sponsored by The Week magazine, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warns that if Iran succeeds in building nuclear weapons it could touch off an arms race that could lead to the end of civilization. “I do not believe that living in a world with 20 or 30 nuclear states is a situation that civilized life can support,” he says. [New York Daily News, 4/15/2005] But during the 1970s, Kissinger and other US officials had supported Iranian efforts to develop a nuclear energy program (see 1976 and April 22, 1975). At the time, they were not concerned about the potential for Iran to use the technology to develop nuclear weapons. Nor were they concerned about proliferation. Kissinger told the Washington Post in March that he didn't “think the issue of proliferation came up.” [Washington Post, 3/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: Henry A. Kissinger
          

April 26, 2005

       Leslie Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), returns from a trip to Iraq and complains that Washington is exhibiting a “totally unrealistic optimism” about events in that country. Gelb, a former Pentagon official, also says in his report that the US military is preparing Iraqis for a future war with Iran. “It became very apparent to me that these 10 divisions were to fight some future war against Iran. It had nothing to do—nothing to do—with taking that country over from us and fighting the insurgents,” Gelb concludes. [Boston Globe, 6/17/2005; Council on Foreign Relations, 4/26/2005]
People and organizations involved: Council on Foreign Relations
          

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]
          

May 1, 2005

       Iran announces that it will resume nuclear enrichment-related activities within a week following unsuccessful talks with European nations. In remarks that follow the announcement, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran has the right to develop a nuclear energy program. “Anybody who comes to power through the presidential elections will not want, nor will the nation allow him to, take a step against the people's interests,” he says. [Associated Press, 5/1/05]
          

May 2005

       Human Rights Watch reports that 12 former members of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) have alleged they were subjected to routine detention, solitary confinement, beatings, and torture as punishment for criticizing MEK leadership or trying to leave its ranks. The former MEK members, now in Europe, told Human Rights Watch that they spent several years in Abu Ghraib prison until Saddam released them during his last year in power. One of those interviewed, according to the report, recalled that during the mid-1990s a prisoner died after an intense beating. Two other former MEK members said they were held in solitary confinement for extensive periods of time, one for five years, and the other for eight and a half years. After the report's release, Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) denies the allegations cited in the report. [Human Rights Watch, 5/2005; BBC, 5/19/2005]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq
          

May 4, 2005

       In an interview with Britain's Channel 4 television, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, insists his country has no intention of invading Iran. “I've got no intention of bombing their nuclear installations or anything else,” Blair says. [Channel 4 TV, 5/4/2005]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair
          

May 11, 2005

       The foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany write to Hassan Rouhani, head of Iran's Supreme Security Council, warning that they will end negotiations with the Iranian government if it resumes its nuclear energy program. The letter marks the first time European countries have threatened to sign on to the Bush administration's hardline strategy in dealing with Iran. [Washington Post, 5/12/2005]
          
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