November 3, 2011- Attack on Iran? - History

November 3, 2011- Attack on Iran? - History

Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

November 3, 2011- Attack on Iran?

One subject has dominated the news here in the past few days, and that is whether Israel is planning, to attack Iran. The discussions which began, as I reported earlier this week, from an article that appeared in Yediot Achronot on Friday, have spread to all forms of media, both in Israel and throughout the world. This discussion comes in advance of the release of an alarming UN report expected to show that Iran’s nuclear armament program is further along than previously reported. To make the speculation all the more real, the media focused on an Israeli Aiforce exercise in Italy, where the IAF practiced long range attacks, and Israel's test firing yesterday of what seems to be a new Israeli ballistic missile. Of course, both the joint airforce exercise and the missile launch were planned months ago, but they did conveniently focus the world's attention on what Israel might do.

Will Israel actually go it alone? or is it all posturing to get others to act? I hope it is the later, but I am certainly not sure. That an Iranian nuclear weapon imperils Israel I have no doubt. If we could eliminate that threat with a single strike, as we did with Iraq, I would be cheering the government on. However, at the moment that seems unlikely, though probably not impossible.

This Saturday night we will commemorate 16 years since the assassination of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Today, when I reflect at why he pushed for Oslo and the Peace Agreement, I remember that it was not for any love of Arafat, or the Palestinians, but rather because he recognized the real threat Israel was going to face in the coming decades was from Iran, and therefore he needed to neutralize the conflict with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the current Israeli government has taken nearly the opposite path.

So where does this leave us? Living in downtown Tel Aviv somehow makes the threat a little ,more real. What course would I choose... Rely on the Arrow Anti-Missile system to down any incoming missile? try to stop the Iranian program before its too late by launching an airstrike? Hope sanction that have had no true effect to date will start to work? I think between the options I would choose the Arrow system, combined with deterrence. Of course that is only if our continued sabatoge of their program eventually fails, and the US cannot be convinced to attack. It is not an easy choice, but I fear the unintended consequences of a unilateral Israeli strike, and I further fear this society, one which forced the government to exchange one soldier for 1,000 terrorist is not ready to endure the possibility of large scale missile attacks from North and South that will probably be a consequence of an attack on Iran.


An Unprecedented Look at Stuxnet, the World's First Digital Weapon

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This recent undated satellite image provided by Space Imaging/Inta SpaceTurk shows the once-secret Natanz nuclear complex in Natanz, Iran, about 150 miles south of Tehran. AP Photo/Space Imaging/Inta SpaceTurk, HO

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In January 2010, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in Iran noticed that centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas were failing at an unprecedented rate. The cause was a complete mystery---apparently as much to the Iranian technicians replacing the centrifuges as to the inspectors observing them.

Five months later a seemingly unrelated event occurred. A computer security firm in Belarus was called in to troubleshoot a series of computers in Iran that were crashing and rebooting repeatedly. Again, the cause of the problem was a mystery. That is, until the researchers found a handful of malicious files on one of the systems and discovered the world's first digital weapon.

Stuxnet, as it came to be known, was unlike any other virus or worm that came before. Rather than simply hijacking targeted computers or stealing information from them, it escaped the digital realm to wreak physical destruction on equipment the computers controlled.

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon, written by WIRED senior staff writer Kim Zetter, tells the story behind Stuxnet's planning, execution and discovery. In this excerpt from the book, which will be released November 11, Stuxnet has already been at work silently sabotaging centrifuges at the Natanz plant for about a year. An early version of the attack weapon manipulated valves on the centrifuges to increase the pressure inside them and damage the devices as well as the enrichment process. Centrifuges are large cylindrical tubes---connected by pipes in a configuration known as a "cascade"---that spin at supersonic speed to separate isotopes in uranium gas for use in nuclear power plants and weapons. At the time of the attacks, each cascade at Natanz held 164 centrifuges. Uranium gas flows through the pipes into the centrifuges in a series of stages, becoming further "enriched" at each stage of the cascade as isotopes needed for a nuclear reaction are separated from other isotopes and become concentrated in the gas.

As the excerpt begins, it's June 2009---a year or so since Stuxnet was first released, but still a year before the covert operation will be discovered and exposed. As Iran prepares for its presidential elections, the attackers behind Stuxnet are also preparing their next assault on the enrichment plant with a new version of the malware. They unleash it just as the enrichment plant is beginning to recover from the effects of the previous attack. Their weapon this time is designed to manipulate computer systems made by the German firm Siemens that control and monitor the speed of the centrifuges. Because the computers are air-gapped from the internet, however, they cannot be reached directly by the remote attackers. So the attackers have designed their weapon to spread via infected USB flash drives. To get Stuxnet to its target machines, the attackers first infect computers belonging to five outside companies that are believed to be connected in some way to the nuclear program. The aim is to make each "patient zero" an unwitting carrier who will help spread and transport the weapon on flash drives into the protected facility and the Siemens computers. Although the five companies have been referenced in previous news reports, they've never been identified. Four of them are identified in this excerpt.

The two weeks leading up to the release of the next attack were tumultuous ones in Iran. On June 12, 2009, the presidential elections between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi didn’t turn out the way most expected. The race was supposed to be close, but when the results were announced—two hours after the polls closed—Ahmadinejad had won with 63 percent of the vote over Mousavi’s 34 percent. The electorate cried foul, and the next day crowds of angry protesters poured into the streets of Tehran to register their outrage and disbelief. According to media reports, it was the largest civil protest the country had seen since the 1979 revolution ousted the shah and it wasn’t long before it became violent. Protesters vandalized stores and set fire to trash bins, while police and Basijis, government-loyal militias in plainclothes, tried to disperse them with batons, electric prods, and bullets.

That Sunday, Ahmadinejad gave a defiant victory speech, declaring a new era for Iran and dismissing the protesters as nothing more than soccer hooligans soured by the loss of their team. The protests continued throughout the week, though, and on June 19, in an attempt to calm the crowds, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sanctioned the election results, insisting that the margin of victory—11 million votes—was too large to have been achieved through fraud. The crowds, however, were not assuaged.


Will a U.S. Attack on Iran Become Obama’s ‘October Surprise’?

Israelis and many Americans are convinced that President Obama will ultimately back away from attacking Iran. They may be wrong.

1. “When American officials declare that all options are on the table, most Israelis do not believe them. They have concluded, rather, that when the crunch comes (and everyone thinks it will), the United States will shy away from military force and reconfigure its policy to live with a nuclear-armed Iran.”

This was the bottom line of “What Israelis Hear When Obama Officials Talk About Iran”, an article written by William Galston, a senior research fellow at Brookings, after he canvassed the Israeli participants in the recent Saban Forum held in Washington in early December.

U.S. President Barack Obama. Reuters

Since that diagnosis, rendered only three weeks ago, the content, tone and intensity of American pronouncements on Iran have undergone progressively dramatic changes. These include:

• December 16: President Obama, in a speech before the Union of Reform Judaism, goes from the passive “a nuclear Iran is unacceptable” to the assertive “We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

• December 19: Secretary of Defense Panetta, hitherto the main articulator of the pitfalls of an attack on Iran, suddenly ups the ante by declaring that Iran might be only a year away from acquiring a nuclear bomb, that this the “red line” as far as the U.S. is concerned, and that Washington “will take whatever steps necessary to deal with it."

• December 20: General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells CNN that “the options we are developing are evolving to a point that they would be executable, if necessary”, adding: 'My biggest worry is that they (Iranians) will miscalculate our resolve'.

• December 21: Dennis Ross tells Israel’s Channel 10 television that President Obama would be prepared to “take a certain step” if that is what is required and “this means that when all options are on the table and if you’ve exhausted all other means, you do what is necessary".

• December 22: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, commenting on the above statements, says that they "make clear a fact that was already known to us from closed-door (discussions). It makes clear to Iran that it faces a real dilemma."

• December 23: Matthew Kroenig, former Special Adviser on Iran at the Pentagon, publishes an article in the prestigious Foreign Affairs, entitled “Time to Attack Iran”, in which he lays out the case for an American offensive against Iran – sooner rather than later.

Israeli analysts, however, remain unconvinced. Influenced, perhaps, by their own experience with Israel’s cynical political leadership, they have ascribed much of this newly-found oomph in American utterances to an elections-inspired attempt by the Obama Administration to “show support for Israel” at a time of political need. Conversely, they maintain that the change in the American tone is a result of new intelligence information that was presented by Barak to Obama in their December 16 meeting in Washington.

Both of these assessments may or may not be true, but they fail to tell the whole story. The timing of the reinvigorated American rhetoric is undoubtedly tied to the December 18 withdrawal of the last American troops from Iraq. The U.S. Army and the Pentagon have long opposed inflammatory rhetoric toward Tehran during the withdrawal, for fear it might endanger U.S. troops in Iraq. With the withdrawal complete, the Administration felt free to adopt a much more belligerent tone, literally overnight.

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As to the substance of American policy, Israelis appear to have persuaded themselves that, despite his vigorous prosecution of the war in Afghanistan and his successful and deadly pursuit of al-Qaida, Obama remains “soft” on Iran and will ultimately back down when push comes to shove. This perception has been fed by Obama’s ill-fated attempt to “engage” with Iran, his initial courtship of the Arab and Muslim world, what is widely perceived as his pro-Palestinian tendencies – and the overall animosity and prejudice directed at the president by many of his detractors.

The Republicans are so convinced, in fact, that they are basing much of their foreign policy campaign against Obama on the assumption that he will ultimately capitulate to Tehran. That may be a dangerous assumption on their part.

In his speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in December 2009 – possibly forgotten because of the ridiculously premature or spectacularly misdirected awarding of the prize - Obama spoke of a "just war" which can be waged “as a last resort or in self-defense”. After warning of the danger posed by Iran’s nuclear campaign, he said “those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.”

In the days after that speech in Oslo, Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr was often cited as a source of inspiration for Obama, and it was Niebuhr who wrote, “contemporary history refutes the idea that nations are drawn into war too precipitately. It proves, on the contrary, that it is the general inclination of democratic nations at least to hesitate so long before taking this fateful plunge that the dictator nations gain a fateful advantage over them.” Obama may not want to fall into that pattern.

People believe what they want to believe, but Obama has already proven - in Afghanistan, in Libya, in the offensive against al-Qaida, in the drone war in Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen – that he is no pacifist and does not shy way from using military force when necessary. And while he has stuck to his prepared script that “all options are on the table," people who have heard Obama speak about Iran in closed sessions have no doubt that if all else fails, including “crippling” sanctions and international isolation, Obama would order a U.S. attack on Iran, if he was convinced, as he appears to be, that it posed a clear and present danger to America’s national security.

2. And there can be no doubt - notwithstanding claims by the radical left and the isolationist right - that a nuclear Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for American interests, above and beyond the existential threat to Israel. Arab countries would be confronted by a stark choice between subservience to Tehran and the dangerous pursuit of their own nuclear prowess Muslim extremism would flourish at a particularly precarious juncture in Arab history, compelling newly-emergent Muslim parties, especially in Egypt, to opt for extreme belligerence toward America and Israel under a protective nuclear umbrella, Hamas and Hezbollah and others of their ilk would be able to run amok with impunity the entire Middle East would be destabilized and America’s oil supplies held hostage by a self-confident and bellicose Iran. The standing of the U.S., after it is inevitably perceived as having lost out to the Ayatollahs, would reach an all-time low. Russia and China would gradually become the dominant powers in the region. Tehran would be free to expand and further develop its nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile capability. And Israel, America’s main ally in the region – perhaps in the world – would face a continuous mortal and ultimately paralyzing threat from an increasingly implacable enemy.

Given their doubts about Obama’s resolve to order a U.S. military attack, Israeli analysts have tended to focus on the existence, or lack thereof, of an American “green light” for an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Indeed, one of the arguments made by Kroenig in Foreign Affairs is that a U.S. attack “can also head off a possible Israeli operation against Iran, which, given Israel’s limited capability to mitigate a potential battle and inflict lasting damage, would likely result in far more devastating consequences and carry a far lower probability of success than a U.S. attack.”

But it is far from clear whether America’s acknowledged operational and logistical advantage is the most compelling argument against an Israeli attack, and whether Israel is indeed incapable of “inflicting lasting damage” on Iran. After years and years of preparation, and with the wily Barak at the helm, one should “expect the unexpected” from an Israeli attack. It would definitely not be a rerun of the 1981 bombing raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, not in scope, not in intensity, not in the means of delivery and not in the yield and sophistication of the weapons that will be thrown into battle.

But there are other profound drawbacks to an Israeli attack and corresponding advantages to an American offensive. An Israeli attack would rally the Arab and Muslim world behind Iran, strengthen radical Islamists, neutralize potentially sympathetic countries as Saudi Arabia and further distance Turkey from Israel and the West. The U.S. would have no choice but to support Israel, even though such support would inflame animosity toward Washington throughout the Muslim world. An American attack, on the other hand, would restore Washington’s stature and power of deterrence in the Arab world, could unite most of the Sunni monarchies and oil Sheikdoms in tacit assistance, at the very least, for the military effort, could facilitate Turkish neutrality and enable European support, and would sideline the incendiary issue of Israel, just as it did when Jerusalem maintained a “low profile” during the first two Gulf wars. It might also decrease the intensity of a combined Iranian-Hamas-Hezbollah and possibly Syrian counterattack against Israel, and would, in any case, free Israel to defend itself and to effectively deal with such an onslaught.

And yes, though hardly devoid of risks, it might very well ensure Barack Obama’s reelection next November.

3. To be sure, despite Republican protestations to the contrary, American voters are ambivalent about a U.S. attack on Iran. In a recent Quinnipiac University Survey, 55 per cent of voters said the U.S. should not take military action against Iran – but 50 per cent would nonetheless support it, if all else fails. And 88 per cent believe that a nuclear Iran posed a serious threat or a somewhat serious threat to American national security.

In the end, it would all come down to timing. The closer to elections that an American attack on Iran would take place, the more it would work in Obama’s favor. Though his left wing flank and possibly large chunks of the Democratic Party would not differentiate between Iraq and Iran, would draw historic parallels with the Bush Administration’s bogus evidence of Iraq’s WMD capabilities and would vehemently criticize Obama for “betraying his principles” - Obama would probably sway most independents and even moderate Republicans who would be swept up in the initial, patriotic wave of support for a campaign against a country that the Republican candidates for the presidency have described as America’s number one enemy. And Obama could point out to the American public that contrary to Iraq, no ground troops would be involved in Iran.

A significantly earlier attack, however, would be far riskier. The initial patriotic fervor might dissipate and the wider ramifications would begin to sink in, including potential Iranian retaliation against American targets, and, perhaps more significantly, the disruption of oil supplies, an unprecedented spike in oil prices and an ensuing and crippling blow to U.S. economic recovery.

If one wants to be absolutely cynical, perhaps Panetta’s one-year deadline was intentionally calibrated with this election timeline. Though there is no basis to suspect Obama of making political calculations, and without detracting from what is sure to be a serious American effort to get sanctions and possibly regime change to do the trick – October would be ideal. That’s the month that Henry Kissinger chose in 1972 to prematurely declare that “peace is at hand” in Vietnam, thus turning Richard Nixon’s certain victory over George McGovern into a landslide that’s the month that Ronald Reagan feared Jimmy Carter would use in 1980 in order to free the Iran hostages and stop the Republican momentum and that’s the month that many of Obama’s opponents are already jittery about, fearing the proverbial “October Surprise” that would hand Obama his second term on a platter.

Two things are certain: the Republicans, who are now goading Obama for being soft on Iran and beating their own war drums, would reverse course in mid air with nary a blink and accuse the president of playing politics with American lives and needlessly embroiling it in a war which probably could have been avoided if he had been tough on Iran in the first place.

And what about the Jewish vote? That would be Obama’s, lock, stock and barrel, including those Jewish voters who cannot forgive him for the Cairo speech, the bow to King Abdullah, the 1967 borders, the lack of chemistry with Netanyahu and that the fact that he has yet to produce evidence that he isn’t, after all, a closet Muslim.

And in Israel, no doubt about it, he would be forever revered as the ultimate Righteous Gentile.


Is Israel Preparing to Attack Iran?

Skimming the newspapers as I rushed to get my children ready for school, I suddenly understood that Israel might actually be preparing for a military attack against Iran. “[United States Secretary of Defence Leon] Panetta Demanded Commitment to Coordinate Action in Iran” read one headline, and “A Bomb at Arm’s Length” read another.

Feeding this hype were a series of military events that had been planned months in advance yet mysteriously coincided with the publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s efforts to produce a nuclear bomb. For four days straight all of the major television channels repeatedly showed images of Israel preparing for war.

It began with a report on Israel’s testing of a long-range ballistic missile, which emphasised the missile’s capacity to carry nuclear warheads. This was followed by interviews with pilots who were part of a comprehensive Israeli Air Force drill on long-range attacks carried out at an Italian NATO air base. Archival images of a missile being launched from an Israeli submarine were also shown. Ha’aretz readers were told that the submarine was important because it would enable Israel to carry out a second strike in case of a nuclear war.

These images of offensive arrangements were followed by images of Israel’s defence preparations. On November 3rd, the three major news channels dedicated several minutes of air time to covering a drill simulating an attack on central Israel these clips showed people being carried on stretchers and soldiers treating casualties who had been hit by chemical weapons. A day later, Ha’aretz reported that the military preparations against Iran had indeed been upgraded.

Iran with nuclear capabilities has been continuously presented as an existential threat to Israel. On October 31, in the opening speech of the Knesset’s winter session Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that a “nuclearised Iran will constitute a serious threat to the Middle East and to the whole world and obviously also a direct and serious threat against us,” adding that Israel’s security conception cannot be based on defence alone but must also include “offensive capabilities which serve as the basis for deterrence.”

Analysts repeatedly mentioned that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier and Reuven Barko from Yisrael Hayom even compared Iran to Nazi Germany. One cannot underestimate the impact of this analogy on the collective psyche of Jewish Israelis.

Barko went on to connect Hamlet’s phrase “to be or not to be” to Israel’s current situation, while posing the existing dilemma confronting the State as “to hit or not to hit”. President Shimon Peres claimed that Iran is the only country in the world “that threatens the existence of another country”, but neglected to mention that for generations, the Palestinians have been deprived of their right to self-determination.

On the day when the International Atomic Energy Agency report was finally published practically all Israeli media outlets described it as a “smoking gun”. The report, according to the media, provides concrete evidence that Iran’s nuclear programme is also aimed at producing weapons. Zvi Yechezkeli from Channel Ten described it as “the end of the era of Iranian ambiguousness”, but failed, of course, to remark that Israel’s own ambiguity regarding its nuclear capacities continues unhindered Roni Daniel from Channel Two declared that “we are relieved” by the report, suggesting that Israel’s claims have now been corroborated and that the report can serve to justify both the imposition of harsher sanctions against Iran and even an attack.

Notwithstanding the endless war mongering, most Israeli commentators claimed that the frenzy was no more than a “nuclear spin”. The majority of political analysts tended to agree that the media campaign, which presented Israel as seriously preparing to attack Iran, was orchestrated just in order to pressure the international community to impose harsher sanctions against Iran. Channel Ten’s Or Heller put it succinctly when he said: “It appears that neither Iran nor the Israeli public is the target of what is going on here, but first and foremost it is the international community, the Americans, the British.”

The commentators also noted that there is wall-to-wall opposition to an Israeli assault, including the US, Europe, Russia and China. Alex Fishman summed up the international sentiment when he wrote: “If someone in Israel thinks that there is a green or a yellow light coming from Washington for a military attack against Iran – this person has no inkling whatsoever of what is going on the light remains the same, a glaring red.”

The portrayal of Israel as a neighbourhood bully who feigns a rage attack while calling out to his friends to hold him back is not particularly reassuring, however.

After 10 days of media frenzy, Defence Minister Ehud Barak tried to calm the public by saying that “not even 500 people would be killed” in the event of an attack – but he failed to say that there would be no attack.

Yossi Verter from Ha’aretz explained that the media hype serves Barak’s interests. “A successful attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities under his ministerial leadership can rehabilitate his personal status, and help him recover the public’s trust.” Verter cites a leading member of the political system, who claims that “Barak is convinced that only a person of his security stature can lead perhaps the most fateful battle in Israel’s history since the War of Independence.”

Regardless of whether Netanyahu and Barak are already set on launching an assault, the media hype and the portrayal of Iran as constituting an existential threat to Israel surely help to produce the necessary conditions for a military campaign.

What is remarkable about this saber rattling is its abstraction. Not a single analyst noted that entering war is easy but ending it is far more difficult, particularly if on the other side stands a regional power with vast resources and a well-trained military (unlike Hamas or Hezbollah). And, of course, no one really talked about the likelihood of a gory future or what kind of life we were planning for our children. This kind of abstraction makes war palatable, providing a great service to the war machine.

Neve Gordon is an Israeli activist and the author of and author ofIsrael’s Occupation (University of California Press, 2008). He can be contacted through his website www.israelsoccupation.info

Neve Gordon is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies and the co-author of The Human Right to Dominate.


Timeline on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Whether Iran is racing toward nuclear weapon capabilities is one of the most contentious issues challenging the West, including the United States and Israel, which has been involved in a shadow war with the country. Related Article

The shah creates the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which conducts training for its personnel and nuclear deals with countries including the United States, France, West Germany, Namibia and South Africa. By training engineers in Iran and abroad, the country gains a solid understanding of nuclear technologies and capabilities.

A year later, Kraftwerk Union, a West German company, agrees to construct two light water reactors to produce nuclear energy at the Bushehr complex, 470 miles south of Tehran. Construction begins in 1974 but the contract is not signed until 1976.

By the late 1970s, the United States becomes worried that Iran may harbor nuclear weapon ambitions.

The shah is overthrown and flees the country, in what becomes known as the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar takes over and cancels the $6.2 billion contract for the construction of two nuclear power plants at the Bushehr complex.

The United States retracts a deal it had made with Iran a year earlier and stops supplying enriched uranium for the Tehran research reactor.

Khomeini Comes to Power Prime Minister Bakhtiar is overthrown by followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an exiled cleric, after bloody clashes in Tehran.

The new leader is uninterested in the nuclear program and ends the shah's effort. Many nuclear experts flee the country.

Any nuclear cooperation between Iran and the United States breaks down completely with the American Embassy hostage crisis from November 1979 until January 1981.

The Iran-Iraq war, from 1980 to 1988, changes Iran's thinking about the nuclear program. With Saddam Hussein pursuing a nuclear program in Iraq, Ayatollah Khomeini secretly decides to restart Iran's program and seeks the assistance of German partners to complete the construction at Bushehr, which was damaged by bombs during the war.

Help From Pakistani Scientist

In the late 1980s, Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist and the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, sells Iran, North Korea and Libya his uranium enrichment technology, and in Libya's case, a bomb design. The transactions do not become public until years later.

In 2005, the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency is on the verge of reviewing Tehran's nuclear program when Iranian officials admit to a 1987 meeting with Dr. Khan's representatives. But Tehran tells the agency that it turned down the chance to buy the equipment required to build the core of a bomb.

New Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's nominal president for eight years, becomes supreme leader after Ayatollah Khomeini dies. Iran and Russia Sign Nuclear Contract

Iran announces that it will sign an $800 million contract with Russia to complete construction on one of two light water reactors at the Bushehr nuclear plant within four years. After many delays, the project was completed in 2010.

The United States has been persuading countries like Argentina, India, Spain, Germany and France to prohibit the sale of nuclear technology to Iran's civilian program.

Sanctions Against Iran and Libya With growing intelligence estimates that Iran may secretly be trying to build a nuclear weapon, President Bill Clinton signs a bill imposing sanctions on foreign companies with investments in Iran and Libya. Such rules are already in place for American companies. Proposal for Nuclear-Free Mideast

President Mohammad Khatami of Iran goes to Saudi Arabia, becoming the first Iranian leader since 1979 to visit the Arab world.

He issues a joint statement with King Fahd expressing concerns about Israel's nuclear weapons program and support for ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons. In 2003, Iran supports such a proposal initiated by Syria.

Discovery of Secret Plants

Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian dissident group also known as the M.E.K., obtains and shares documents revealing a clandestine nuclear program previously unknown to the United Nations.

The program includes a vast uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak. In December, satellite photographs of Natanz and Arak appear widely in the news media. The United States accuses Tehran of an "across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," but takes relatively little action because it is focused on the approaching invasion of Iraq the next year.

Iran agrees to inspections by the I.A.E.A. It also signs an accord with Russia to speed up completion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr.

Possibly in response to the American invasion of Iraq, which was originally justified by the Bush administration on the grounds that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Ayatollah Khamenei orders a suspension of work on what appear to be weapons-related technologies, although he allows uranium enrichment efforts to continue.

Inspectors with the United Nations atomic agency find traces of highly enriched uranium at the Natanz plant, and Iran concedes to demands, after talks with Britain, France and Germany, to accept stricter international inspections of its nuclear sites and to suspend production of enriched uranium.

Violation and New Agreement

Iran violates the agreement, charging that the Europeans reneged on their promises of economic and political incentives. After 22 hours of negotiations, an Iranian delegation and senior officials from France, Germany, Britain and the European Union come to a preliminary agreement to immediately suspend Iran's production of enriched uranium. The Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, praises the so-called Paris Agreement but emphasizes that any suspension will be temporary.

In a few weeks, the I.A.E.A verifies Iran's suspension of its enrichment activities, with one exception: its request to use up to 20 sets of centrifuge components for research and development.

With Laptop Files, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran's Nuclear Aims

Senior American intelligence officials present the International Atomic Energy Agency with the contents of what they say is a stolen Iranian laptop containing more than a thousand pages of Iranian computer simulations and accounts of experiments -- studies for crucial features of a nuclear warhead.

Intelligence reports reveal that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a little-known Iranian scientist, leads elements of Iran's weaponization program known as Project 110 and Project 111.

But doubts about the intelligence persist among some experts, in part because American officials, citing the need to protect their source, have largely refused to provide details of the origins of the laptop beyond saying that they obtained it in mid-2004 from a source in Iran who they said had received it from a second person, now believed to be dead.

Ahmadinejad Elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known only as a secular conservative and a former mayor of Tehran, becomes president. He becomes a divisive figure in world affairs, cheering on the development of Iran’s nuclear program despite orders from the United Nations Security Council to halt it, calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map’' and describing the Holocaust as “a myth.” Natanz Production Is Restarted

Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Natanz after negotiations with European and American officials collapse.

The I.A.E.A. approves a resolution to report Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council, citing “the absence of confidence" among the atomic agency's members "that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

Iran Opens a Heavy-Water Reactor

Just days before Iran is supposed to suspend enrichment of uranium or face the prospect of sanctions, President Ahmadinejad formally kicks off a heavy-water production plant in Arak, 120 miles southwest of Tehran, which would put Iran on the path to obtaining plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear weapons.

In November, Iran seeks international assistance to ensure safe operation for a 40-megawatt reactor it is building. Citing broader doubts about Iran's nuclear ambitions, the United Nations atomic agency, the United States and European countries oppose offering help.

First Round of U.N. Sanctions The Security Council unanimously approves sanctions intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions ban the import and export of materials and technology used in uranium enrichment and reprocessing and in the production of ballistic missiles. U.S. - Israel Cyberattacks Begin

President George W. Bush rejects a secret request by Israel for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wants for an attack on Iran’s nuclear program. The Bush administration is alarmed by the Israeli idea to fly over Iraq to reach Iran’s major nuclear complex at Natanz and decides to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel and brief Israeli officials on new American efforts to subtly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Mr. Bush will hand off the major covert program to President Obama.

The United States works with Israel to begin cyberattacks, code-named Olympic Games, on computer systems at the Natanz plant. A year later, the program is introduced undetected into a controller computer at Natanz. Centrifuges begin crashing and engineers have no clue that the plant is under attack.

International talks on Iran's nuclear ambitions end in deadlock despite the Bush administration’s decision to reverse policy and send William J. Burns, a senior American official, to the table for the first time.

Iran responds with a written document that fails to address the main issue: international demands that it stop enriching uranium. Iranian diplomats reiterate before the talks that they consider the issue nonnegotiable.

U.S. Joins Regular Iran Talks Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announces that the United States will participate in talks with Iran involving five other nations: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Warning on Nuclear ‘Deception’

American, British and French officials declassify some of their most closely held intelligence and describe a multiyear Iranian effort, tracked by spies and satellites, to build a secret uranium enrichment plant deep inside a mountain.

The new plant, which Iran strongly denies is intended to be kept secret or used for making weapons, is months from completion and does nothing to shorten intelligence estimates of how long it would take Iran to produce a bomb. American intelligence officials say it will take at least a year, perhaps five, for Iran to develop the full ability to make a nuclear weapon.

Leaked Gates Memo on U.S. Policy

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warns in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran's steady progress toward nuclear capability.

When the memo becomes public in April, Mr. Gates issues a statement saying that he wishes to dispel any perception among allies that the administration had failed to adequately think through how to deal with Iran.

The United Nations’ nuclear inspectors declare for the first time that they have extensive evidence of “past or current undisclosed activities” by Iran’s military to develop a nuclear warhead.

The report also concludes that some Iranian weapons-related activity apparently continued “beyond 2004," contradicting an American intelligence assessment published in 2008 that concluded that work on a bomb was suspended at the end of 2003.

Computer Worms Leak Online 1,000 Centrifuges Destroyed

The United States and Israel realize that copies of the computer sabotage program introduced in Natanz are available on the Internet, where they are replicating quickly. In a few weeks, articles appear in the news media about a mysterious new computer worm carried on USB keys that exploits a hole in the Windows operating system. The worm is named Stuxnet.

President Obama decides not to kill the program, and a subsequent attack takes out nearly 1,000 Iranian centrifuges, nearly a fifth of those operating.

U.N. Approves New Sanctions

The United Nations Security Council levels its fourth round of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions curtail military purchases, trade and financial transactions carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls the nuclear program.

The Security Council also requires countries to inspect ships or planes headed to or from Iran if they suspect banned cargo. In addition, Iran is barred from investing in other countries' nuclear enrichment plants, uranium mines and related technologies, and the Security Council sets up a committee to monitor enforcement.

Iranian Scientist Defects to U.S., Then Reconsiders

Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist who American officials say defected to the United States in 2009, provided information about Iran's nuclear weapons program and then developed second thoughts, returning to Iran. (After a hero's welcome, he was imprisoned on treason charges and tortured, according to reports from Iran.)

The bizarre episode was the latest in a tale that has featured a mysterious disappearance from a hotel room in Saudi Arabia, rumors of a trove of new intelligence about Iran's nuclear plants and a series of contradictory YouTube videos. It immediately set off a renewed propaganda war between Iran and the United States.

Bombings Strike Scientists in Iran Unidentified attackers riding motorcycles bomb two of Iran's top nuclear scientists, killing one and prompting accusations that the United States and Israel are again trying to disrupt Iran's nuclear program.

The scientist who was killed, Majid Shahriari, reportedly managed a ''major project'' for the country's Atomic Energy Organization. His wounded colleague, Fereydoon Abbasi, is believed to be even more important he is on the United Nations Security Council's sanctions list for ties to the Iranian nuclear effort. West Expands Sanctions, and U.N. Offers Evidence on Nuclear Work

Major Western powers take significant steps to cut Iran off from the international financial system, announcing coordinated sanctions aimed at its central bank and commercial banks. The United States also imposes sanctions on companies involved in Iran’s nuclear industry, as well as on its petrochemical and oil industries.

The United Nations atomic agency releases evidence that it says make a “credible” case that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device” at its Parchin military base and that the project may still be under way.

After a dip in enriched uranium production in 2010 because of the cyberattacks, Iranian production recovers. While the United States and Israel never acknowledged responsibility for the cyberprogram, Olympic Games, some experts argue that it set the Iranians back a year or two. Others say that estimate overstates the effect.

With the program still running, intelligence agencies in the United States and Israel seek out new targets that could further slow Iran’s progress.

A Blow to U.S., as Drone Crashes

A stealth C.I.A. drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, crashes near the Iranian town of Kashmar, 140 miles from the Afghan border. It is part of a stepped-up surveillance program that has frequently sent the United States’ most hard-to-detect drone into Iran to map suspected nuclear sites.

Iran asserts that its military downed the aircraft, but American officials say the drone was lost because of a malfunction.

Bomb Kills Nuclear Scientist A bomber on a motorcycle kills Mostafa Ahmadi Rosha, a scientist from the Natanz site, and his bodyguard. Iran blames Israel and the United States. The Americans deny the accusation, but Israel is more circumspect. New Centrifuges at Natanz

Iran says it is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz plant.

Meanwhile, I.A.E.A. inspectors are still trying to gain access to the Parchin site, 20 miles south of Tehran, to ascertain whether tests have been carried out there on nuclear bomb triggers.

But satellites images show that the site has been extensively cleaned by the Iranians.

Talks With West Falter After a brief spurt of optimism, talks between Iran and six world powers on its disputed nuclear program fail to produce a breakthrough in Baghdad. The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany wanted a freeze on Iranian production of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity, which is considered a short step from bomb grade. The Iranians wanted an easing of the onerous economic sanctions imposed by the West and a recognition of what they call their right to enrich. The countries agree to meet again in June, but talks were further slowed after a new regimen of harsh economic sanctions and a statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency that said Iran had made ''no progress'' toward providing access to restricted sites it suspects of being used to test potential triggers for nuclear warheads. Embargo on Iranian Oil

A European Union embargo on Iranian oil takes effect, playing a large role in severely restricting Iran's ability to sell its most important export.

In retaliation, Iran announces legislation intended to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital Persian Gulf shipping lane, and tests missiles in a desert drill clearly intended as a warning to Israel and the United States.

In January 2013, Iran’s oil minister, Rostam Qasemi, acknowledged for the first time that petroleum exports and sales had fallen by at least 40 percent in the previous year, costing the country $4 billion to $8 billion each month.

The United Nations atomic agency reports that Iran has installed three-quarters of the nuclear centrifuges needed to complete a deep-underground site under a mountain near Qum for the production of nuclear fuel.

The I.A.E.A. also says that Iran may have sought to cleanse another site where the agency has said it suspects that the country has conducted explosive experiments that could be relevant to the production of a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the United States imposes more punishing sanctions against Iran, aimed at its oil and petrochemical sectors, as well as its shipping trade, intensifying existing sanctions intended to choke off the revenue that Iran reaps from its two largest export industries.

Israel's 'Red Line' Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel tells the United Nations that Iran’s capability to enrich uranium must be stopped before the spring or early summer, arguing that by that time Iran will be in a position to make a short, perhaps undetectable, sprint to manufacture its first nuclear weapon. Iran's Currency Tumbles

After months of harsh, American-led sanctions, Iran's currency, the rial, plunges 40 percent. The currency lost about half its value in 2012.

Most of that decline comes in a frenzy of speculative selling by Iranians worried that rapid inflation could render their money worthless. The government responds with a crackdown in which some money traders are arrested.

The depressed value of the rial forces Iranians to carry ever-fatter wads of bank notes to buy everyday items. But the sanctions also present a new complication to Iran's banking authorities: they may not be able to print enough money.

Meanwhile, the European Union toughens sanctions against Iran, banning trade in industries like finance, metals and natural gas, and making other business transactions far more cumbersome.

A new round of American sanctions take effect which state that any country that buys Iranian oil must put the purchase money into a local bank account. Iran cannot repatriate the money and can use it only to buy goods within that country. Violators risk severe penalties in doing business with the United States. Oil exports from Iran have already dropped by a million barrels a day.

A week earlier, Iran announces that it would deploy a new generation of centrifuges, four to six times as powerful as the current generation.

The state news agency IRNA quotes a report by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, saying that it had found significant new deposits of raw uranium and identified sites for 16 more nuclear power stations.

Iran’s raw uranium reserves now total around 4,400 tons, including discoveries over the past 18 months, IRNA quoted the report as saying.

A few weeks earlier, Ayatollah Khamenei said that his country was not seeking nuclear weapons but added that if Iran ever decided to build them, no “global power” could stop it.

Iran meets with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in Kazakhstan, but talks end with no specific agreement over a proposal that would sharply constrain Iran’s stockpile of the most dangerous enriched uranium, in return for a modest lifting of some sanctions.

The six powers also agreed that Iran could keep a small amount of 20 percent enriched uranium — which can be converted to bomb grade with modest additional processing — for use in a reactor to produce medical isotopes.

Iranian oil sales have been reduced by half as a result of the international pressure on the country, and restrictions on financial transactions and transportation have created many difficulties for its leaders.

Iran Nuclear Weapon to Take Year or More, Obama Says

President Obama tells an Israeli television station that his administration believes it would take Iran “over a year or so” to develop a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Obama’s estimated timeline contrasts with Mr. Netanyahu’s stated belief that Israel and its Western allies are likely to have to intervene by the spring or summer, when, he says, Iran’s scientists will have enriched enough uranium to become a nuclear threat.

Navy Deploying Laser Weapon Prototype Near Iran

The U.S. announces that the Navy will deploy a laser weapon prototype in the Persian Gulf, where Iranian fast-attack boats have harassed American warships and where the government in Tehran is building remotely piloted aircraft carrying surveillance pods and, someday potentially, rockets.

The laser will not be operational until next year. It has been shown in tests to disable patrol boats and blind or destroy surveillance drones.

After Talks End, Iran Announces an Expansion of Nuclear Fuel Production

Iran’s president announces an expansion of the country’s uranium production and claims other atomic energy advances, striking a pugnacious tone in the aftermath of diplomatic talks that ended in an impasse with the big powers on April 6 in Kazakhstan.

US Blacklists an Iranian and Businesses Over Violation of Sanctions

The United States blacklists an affluent Iranian business executive, Babak Morteza Zanjani, and what it describes as his multibillion-dollar money laundering network, accusing them of selling oil for Iran in violation of the Western economic sanctions imposed over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

On March 14, The Treasury Department, which administers the government’s Iran sanctions, blacklisted a Greek shipping tycoon, Dimitris Cambis, over what it called his scheme to acquire a fleet of oil tankers on Iran’s behalf and disguise their ownership to ship Iranian oil.

Israeli Officials Stress Readiness for Lone Strike on Iran

In an interview with the BBC, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat, saying Israel has “different vulnerabilities and different capabilities” than the United States. “We have to make our own calculations, when we lose the capacity to defend ourselves by ourselves.”

Israeli defense and military officials have been issuing explicit warnings this week that Israel was prepared and had the capability to carry out a lone military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

U.S. Arms Deal With Israel and 2 Arab Nations Is Near The Defense Department is expecting to finalize a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week that will provide missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran. Fearing Price Increases, Iranians Hoard Goods

Iranians rush to supermarkets to buy cooking oil, red meat and other staples, stockpiling the goods over new fears of price spikes from a change in the official exchange rate that could severely reduce the already weakened purchasing power of the rial, the national currency.

Prices of staples are set to increase by as much as 60 percent because of the currency change.

Economists say the result is from a combination of severe Western sanctions and what many call the government’s economic mismanagement.

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Those Aiding Iran

The United States expands its roster of those violating Iran sanctions, blacklisting four Iranian companies and one individual suspected of helping the country enrich nuclear fuel. It also singles out two other companies, including a Venezuelan-Iranian bank, accused of helping Iran evade other Western-imposed prohibitions on oil sales and financial dealings.

The penalties came a day after the Senate introduced legislation that could effectively deny the Iran government access to an estimated $100 billion worth of its own money parked in overseas banks, a step that proponents said could significantly damage Iran’s financial stability.

Iran Is Seen Advancing Nuclear Bid

The I.A.E.A. says Iran has made significant progress across the board in its nuclear program, while negotiations with the West dragged on this spring. But it said that it has not gone past the "red line" that Israel’s leaders have declared could trigger military action.

In its last report before the Iranian elections next month, the agency also gives details that point to an emerging production strategy by the Iranians. One strategy involves speeding ahead with another potential route to a bomb: producing plutonium. The report indicates that Iran is making significant progress at its Arak complex, where it has built a heavy-water facility and is expected to have a reactor running by the end of next year.

U.S. Adds to Its List of Sanctions Against Iran

The Obama administration escalates sanctions against Iran for the fourth time in a week, blacklisting what it describes as a global network of front companies controlled by Iran’s top leaders, accusing them of hiding assets and generating billions of dollars worth of revenue to help Tehran evade sanctions.

The White House also accuses Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of personally directing an effort to bypass them.

The United States also blacklists Iranian petrochemical companies, its automotive industry and more than 50 Iranian officials, and threatens to sanction foreign banks that trade or hold Iran’s national currency, the rial.

Iran Elects New President

Voters overwhelmingly elect Hassan Rouhani, 64, a mild-mannered cleric who advocates greater personal freedoms and a more conciliatory approach to the world.

The diplomat sheik played a key role in Iran’s voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment in 2004, which Western powers responded to by asking for more concessions from Iran.

Mr. Rouhani replaces his predecessors' foreign minister with Mohammad Javad Zarif, an American-educated diplomat known for his understanding of the West, and makes him responsible for negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. Mr. Rouhani also removes a hard-line nuclear scientists as head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, and replaces him with the former foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi. In September, Iran’s longtime ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency will be replaced as well.

Iran Slows Its Gathering of Enriched Uranium, Report Says

I.A.E.A. inspectors say that Iran is slowing its accumulation of enriched uranium that can be quickly turned into fuel for an atomic bomb. The report's disclosure is significant politically because it delays the day when Iran could breach what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel last fall called a “red line” beyond which Iran would not be allowed to pass — the point at which it has enough purified uranium to quickly make a single nuclear weapon. Iran Said to Seek a Nuclear Accord to End Sanctions

Seizing on a perceived flexibility in a letter from President Obama to President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s leaders are focused on getting quick relief from crippling sanctions, a top adviser to the Iranian leadership says.

The adviser says that Mr. Obama’s letter, delivered about three weeks ago, promised relief from sanctions if Tehran demonstrated a willingness to “cooperate with the international community, keep your commitments and remove ambiguities.”

Rouhani, Blunt and Charming, Pitches a Moderate Iran in First U.N. Appearance

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, turns himself into a high-speed salesman offering a flurry of speeches, tweets, televised interviews and carefully curated private meetings, intended to end Iran's economic isolation.

At the United Nations General Assembly, he preaches tolerance and understanding, decries as a form of violence the Western sanctions imposed on his country and says nuclear weapons have no place in its future. He takes aim at Israel's nuclear arsenal in a public - while the country's leaders caution over what they deem as an empty charm offensive.

First Direct US-Iran Talk Since 1979

President Obama says he has spoken by phone with President Hassan Rouhani, the first direct contact between the leaders of Iran and the United States since 1979. Mr. Obama, speaking in the White House briefing room, said the two leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear program and said he was persuaded there was a basis for an agreement.

Moments before Mr. Obama's announcement, Mr. Rouhani's Twitter account posted this now-deleted message: "In a phone conversation b/w #Iranian & #US Presidents just now: @HassanRouhani: "Have a Nice Day!" @BarackObama: "Thank you. Khodahafez." Iran Talks Called Substantive

Iran and a group of six world powers say that they have engaged in “substantive” and “forward-looking” discussions on the disputed Iranian nuclear program and that they will reconvene on November 7.

The account of the two days of talks in Geneva came in a rare joint statement from Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief for the European Union, who is the lead negotiator with Iran.

Iran Says It Agrees to ‘Road Map’ With U.N. on Nuclear Inspections

The I.A.E.A. says that Iran has agreed to resolve all outstanding issues with the agency, and will permit “managed access” by international inspectors to two key nuclear facilities. But the promise does not extend to the Parchin military site, which inspectors have been trying to see for months.

Marathon talks between major powers and Iran fail to ease sanctions on the country and produce a deal to freeze its nuclear program.

Obama Calls for Patience in Iran Talks

I.A.E.A. inspectors release a report stating that for the first time in years, they saw evidence that the Iranians have put the brakes on their nuclear expansion.

President Obama makes an appeal to Congress to give breathing space to his efforts to forge a nuclear deal with Iran.

Deal With Iran Halts Nuclear Program

The United States and five other world powers announce a landmark accord that would temporarily freeze Iran’s nuclear program and lay the foundation for a more sweeping agreement.

The aim of the accord, which is to last six months, is to give international negotiators time to pursue a more comprehensive accord that would ratchet back much of Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it could only be used for peaceful purposes.

Negotiators Put Final Touches on Iran Accord

Iran and a group of six world powers complete a deal that will temporarily freeze much of Tehran’s nuclear program starting Jan. 20, in exchange for limited relief from Western economic sanctions.

The agreement faced opposition from Iranian hard-liners and Israeli leaders, as well as heavy criticism from some American lawmakers, who have threatened to approve further sanctions despite President Obama’s promise of a veto.

Iran Is Providing Information on Its Detonators, Report Says The I.A.E.A. releases a report stating that Iran is beginning to turn over information related to its nuclear detonators. The agency says that Iran has provided “additional information and explanations,” including documents, to substantiate its claim that it had tested the detonators for “a civilian application.” Iran Outlines Nuclear Deal Accepts Limit

As the deadline for the talks approaches on Sunday, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, says the country could accept a freeze on its capacity to produce nuclear fuel at current levels for several years, provided it could eventually produce fuel unhindered.

The proposal will effectively extend a limited series of concessions Iran made last November as part of a temporary deal to get negotiations started on a permanent accord. In return, Iran wants step-by-step relief from sanctions that have substantially weakened its economy.

Iran Nuclear Talks Extended, Diplomats Say

Atomic power engineers in Iran start redesigning a partly constructed reactor in Arak to limit the amount of plutonium it produces, Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, says, expressing hope that the change will help alleviate Western objections that the plutonium can be used in weapons. Role for Russia Gives Iran Talks a Possible Boost

Iran tentatively agrees to ship much of its huge stockpile of uranium to Russia for conversion into specialized fuel rods for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iran’s only commercial reactor. The agreement is potentially a major breakthrough in talks that have until now been deadlocked.

A key question remains about the negotiations that American officials have been loath to discuss in public: In a final deal, would Iran be required to publicly admit its past activities, or merely provide a mechanism for monitoring its actions in the future?

Negotiators Scrambling as Deadline Looms in Nuclear Talks

As six world powers and Iran race to meet a Monday deadline for an agreement that would constrain Iran’s nuclear program, the United States stakes out an ambitious goal for what an accord should accomplish.

American officials say the agreement should slow the Iranian nuclear program enough that it would take Iran at least a year to make enough material for a nuclear bomb if it decided to ignore the accord.

It has become increasingly unlikely that any accord announced on Monday would be a complete one. And whatever deal is reached, it may not matter if Iranian hard-liners have their way. In Iran, the final decision on a nuclear deal lies with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.

U.S. and Allies Extend Iran Nuclear Talks by 7 Months

A yearlong effort to reach an enduring accord with Iran to dismantle large parts of its nuclear infrastructure fell short, forcing the United States and its allies to declare a seven-month extension, but with no clear indication of how they plan to bridge fundamental differences.


Tear gas

After about two hours, police were back in control of the main embassy building. Live TV footage showed riot police removing protesters.

Security forces fired tear gas, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. It said some protesters and police had been injured in the clash.

Eventually, both compounds were cleared, Iranian media reported.

There was strong international reaction to Tuesday's events.

The 15-nation UN Security Council - which has passed four rounds of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme - condemned the attack "in the strongest terms".

US President Barack Obama said he was "deeply disturbed" by events in Tehran.

"I strongly urge the Iranian government to hold those responsible to task," he added.

Germany also summoned its Iranian ambassador over the storming of the British embassy - in which a German school was also damaged.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called it "a violation of international law".

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said "the Iranian regime has shown what little consideration it has for international law".

Russia said the attack was "unacceptable".


Somebody was duped

It started sometime in mid-2012, Kubecka recalled. One of the computer technicians on Saudi Aramco's information technology team opened a scam email and clicked on a bad link. The hackers were in.

The actual attack began during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when most Saudi Aramco employees were on holiday. On the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, the few employees noticed their computers were acting weird. Screens started flickering. Files began to disappear. Some computers just shut down without explanation.

That morning, a group calling itself "Cutting Sword of Justice" claimed responsibility, citing Aramco's support of the Al Saud royal family's authoritarian regime.

"This is a warning to the tyrants of this country and other countries that support such criminal disasters with injustice and oppression," the group said.


Pending Attack On Iran Not Behind Oil's Run Toward $100

Oil has moved up strongly to almost $100 per barrel. There have been rumors regarding a potential attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and Israeli President Shimon Peres has even hinted at it.

Recent reports that Iran is getting closer to making a nuclear bomb have prompted pundits to opine that than attack by Israel or the United States to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is imminent.

Oil prices are very sensitive to rumors of attack on Iran not only because Iran is a major oil producer, but more importantly because of Iran’s ability to block Strait of Hormuz. A large part of the oil from the Middle East to the Western World is shipped through Strait of Hormuz, which is 21 miles across at its narrowest point.

The shipping lane is only two miles wide in each direction with a two-mile buffer zone in between. The narrowness of the lane makes it easy for Iran to block it. Iran is on the recorded stating that if attacked it will block Strait of Hormuz.

At least for the time being, viewing higher oil prices through the prism of armed conflict with Iran is incorrect.

The reason for the rise in oil price is not the geography of Iran but the geography of Cushing, Oklahoma.

Cushing is the oil tank farm capital of the United States. It’s a major hub where various pipelines converge.

Cushing is the price settlement point for West Texas Intermediate Sweet Crude Oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). NYMEX is now owned by CME Group (CME). This price benchmark is used for oil in the United States.

As the production for Canadian oil sands has increased, Cushing has become a major choke point. Cushing has turned out to be a colossal error in oil infrastructure planning.

Oil prices in the United States were depressed because of the inventory built up in Cushing. Now the choke point is easing and more oil is moving out of Cushing, but even with this additional supply, crude oil has rebounded from $75 to more than $95 with $100 in sight.

A casual observer may find the foregoing absurd because in simple economics restricting supply does not depress prices and increasing supply does not raise prices. However, the mechanics of oil trading in the United States defy the simple economics.

Oil traders pay a lot of attention to inventories at Cushing. When inventories at Cushing go up, oil traders sell the oil because the traditional wisdom is higher inventories are caused by less demand and less demand means lower prices. When inventories at Cushing go down, traders interpret it as higher demand and they start buying oil. Their buying runs up the prices.

Oil prices had previously dipped to $75 because oil traders were acting out of habit and were not taking into account the new dynamics. The new dynamics has been that the infrastructure at Cushing was allowing more oil to come in and less oil to go out. This resulted in an inventory buildup that was not demand related.

Another clue that an attack on Iran is not behind crude's rebound is that the price of Brent crude is not rising at the same rate as West Texas Intermediate.

Brent crude is the price benchmark for the rest of the world. More oil is tied to Brent crude benchmark than to West Texas Intermediate benchmark.

An easy way to understand this analysis is to compare two ETFs. USO represents West Texas Intermediate, and BNO represents Brent crude. What is really happening is the spread between the two types of oil is narrowing, as shown on the chart.

Today’s plunge in gold (GLD) and silver (SLV) prices is further evidence that the potential attack on Iran by Israel or the United State as an explanation for the rise in oil prices is wrong. If there were any substance to the rumor, we would have seen prices of gold and silver rise, not fall.

Oil stocks of interest are APC, COG, KOG, MRO, XOM, CVX, MUR, and DVN. ETFs of interest are XLE, XOP, and OIH. Oil service stocks of interest are HAL, BHI, SLB, NOV, RIG, CAM, NBR, WFT, RDC, DO, and TDW.

Refiners that may get hurt are Valero Energy, Tesoro, Marathon Petroleum and HollyFrontier.

The key to consistently making money in the markets is to look beyond the rumors and the opinions intermarket analysis as shown in this article is a fantastic tool to get to the bottom of the reality.

Full Disclosure: I have been long USO and short BNO. Subscribers to ZYX Short Sell Change Alert may have taken similar actions. I have just issued a short sell signal on stocks of certain refiners that will get hurt by the narrowing spread. Subscribers to ZYX Global Multi Asset Allocation Alert are long OIH. Subscribers to ZYX Buy Change Alert are long MRO and received a November 3 buy signal for oil stocks.


While the IAEA says they see no evidence of Iran proceeding to construct a nuclear bomb, how can the rest of the world sit back and allow Israel to engage in such a unilateral attack on Iran? When bombs fall in Tel Aviv, Israel will demand protection from the Western World who will then be dragged into an unwanted conflict. We Americans have blown our savings on doing the bidding of Israel against other nations in the Middle East. I guess our bankruptcy is of no concern.

It would probably end the "special relationship"if Israel were to attack Iran unilaterally -the effects on the already teetering U.S economy would be game-changing most likely. I think it would remove any doubt who America's (and the worlds) real enemies are.

But really – there should be no doubt yesterday – so you never know.

American politicians in effect, work to serve Israel – pump it's economy, fight it's wars and defend it's ugly image in the U.N. The 'special relationship' can never end as long as American politicians are indebted to the zionist lobbies to propel their useless careers. And here, the American man & woman are abandoned in their own devices

Israel is our friend. If they attack Iran then we should help especially if tens of thousands of Israel are injured. There could be thousands of IDF killed if they get into a land war in the area and we as their friends should help provide comfort to the thousands of Israel families as they bury the dead.

They are our friend and we should not get involved if they decided to attack another nation. They are smart people and if they want to attack then they should be allowed to do so. Our role should be only to help with the massive hurt and maybe killed. Israel is a small nation and incase of a war they might find that the jews become a minority in their own nation.

Having an arab majority would probably help solve the problems if the war goes badly. It would help with the arabs living in tents because the homes if a large number of Israelis are killed.

Bibi is insane so maybe they will be smart enough to understand what a long drawn our land war means. The entire world will turn on Israel if they attack with nuclear weapons first.

Because Israel totally wanted Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed so Iran would become a powerhouse. That makes perfect sense. Israel loves chaos, not balance. Yup.

I still dont get what motivation the antisemites see for Israel in having Afghanistan attacked. Iraq I get (it still is stupid), but Afghanistan there is no reason for Israel to want it attacked. That kind of proves Israel didnt do 9/11. They wouldve had it pinned on the Saudis that did it and have the US attack the Saudis who fund the PLO.

It is absolute madness to attack Iran. Iran has no missiles or means to attack the United States. Meanwhile, Americans are sacrificing enough for these wars instigated by and for Israel. This country needs to spend our tax dollars on medical care, social security for the elderly and orphans, free education for all those capable of earning specific grades in college and build the roads, bridges, and transportations systems U.S. citizens desperately need. Stop making enemies with drone attacks. Recognize that at some future date, other countries will have the technology and drones to attack us. It is a sure way to bankrupt this nation by doing Israel's bidding to attack other countries and start wars so that Israel can take more land from the Arabs inhabitating the land.

This country needs to slash government. The easiest places to cut are these wars and the bases overseas. Then we can attack all the waste in the bloated education and other government depts. Ron Paul is the only one with a program to slash both the domestic and military budget while saving Social Secuirty for todays elderly while allowing the young to opt out of this ponzi scheme. We need a return to small efficient goverment that defends this country alone. Let the Rest of the world defend itself. If we attack iran it will lead to WW3 and no one knows how that will end.

On the contrary, I think we all KNOW how WW3 will end – especially if China & Russia are involved. I think the outcome would be too horrifying for most to grasp.

What's this Israeli insanity….We are in no mood to go to war for Israel again..those days are over…

What has Iran been doing to Israel anyway?

by attacking Iran, Israel would begin its own end.

Let the Zionists make their bed of destruction. Iran is not Lebanon, or Hamas for that matter. They will giver Israel a much deserved lesson indeed. Bring it on, and watch the so-called chosen ones burn…

Well, there's no way to please someone who is hell bent on killing you. And the lunacy of the Americans, clearly in Tel-Avivs back pocket, in saying that further sanctions will mollify the Israeli nut cases, just goes to show you. To say that the State Department "fears" anything that Israel will do is like saying the NKVD feared their next assignment from Beria.

American state will be in danger due to these wars not and america has not enough by killing innocent people around the world.
America is already dead economically as I commented yesterday due to economic desaster minorities will be killed in america and probably Jews as they are dominating and dictating the wars in america.

Ah ha ha! The spoilt brat with "different needs" is gonna burn the house down? Deal with it.

Watch out for some preemptive justification effort RSN. The tall story of the Saudi Ambassador Killing Plot has apparently been accepted as gospel truth by the MSM, so the next hit piece will be "leaks" from the upcoming UN report on Iran's nuclear activities, spiked with inflammatory rhetoric and Hillary doing the dominant harpie impression.

Just wait 'til you see what $400 p/b crude oil does to the US economy.

That will be the real indicator of probable war, not all this constant BS that Israel is about to attack. In early 2008, all the Israeli heavy hitters came to Washington to try to con Bush into assisting in an attack against Iran. The insiders in the commodities markets were alerted and that's why the price per barrel of crude shot to $150 per barrel. The idiot Bush actually called the Saudi king and asked him to pump more oil. The king declined and explained that the speculators were driving up the prices and there was plenty of oil available, but huge amounts had been parked off shore in tankers, waiting for the prices to go even higher. When Bush was forced by the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which stated that Iran was not building nukes,
to turn down the Israelis, the prices tumbled. The voters knew none of the behind the scenes machinations, but rightfully blamed the Republicans. If the price of oil takes a huge jump without any real reason the insiders have been tipped about probable war. All this BS about Bibi trying to talk his cabinet into a war is only grandstanding to get more actions from the US State Department.

Actually the USA gets very little of its oil from the middle east. It is a canard that America is in any way dependent on Arabs or Iranians for oil.

The marginal barrel sets the market price. Take Iran's exports off the market and the price goes thru the roof. Whether the US or Europe imports one drop of Iranian crude is totally irrelavent.

I love Truman's comment on Israel: Jesus Christ could not please those people. What do you except me to do.

We as a friend of Israel should help them in any way possible if they feel that Iran needs to be attacked. Should Israel get involved in a long war with Iran we should help the thousands of wounded IDF soldiers and possible help the families of the many IDF who will get killed. Just because they been a success in the past will not do much in the next war. Like Wall street it is about what you can do for me today and not what you did yesterday.
Israel is an overly armed nation so there is no reason that if Iran needs to be attacked that the soldiers of Israel should not do the fighting. Maybe a one or two hundred thousand wounded and killed would change Israel pushing for war as the first solution.

Iran and Iraq fought for 8 years so we know Iran is capable of handling a long war.

The USA has no reason to attack Iran since they do not represent any threat to the USA.

But Truman was the one who gave us this mess by selling out to the tribe to win the 1948 election.

What is interesting is Truman crossed out the word Jewish when he signed the document which official accepts that israel existed. So the USA has not accepted Israel as a jewish state. A long war with Iran could end up were they kill off the secular jews and only have the orthodox jews left with the arabs being the majority. What a shock that would be to bibi to find he is the leader of an arab nation.

When the Germans behaved this way in the 1930s the whole world stood up in alarm. When Israel does it our politicians and media can only say 'Israel has a right to defend itself'.'

Nope. Iran isnt doing any aggressive posturing at all. Iran isnt planning to nuke Riyadh (probably more likely than Tel Aviv or Jerusalem). Iran doesnt want to take over Iraq. Nope. Its all Israel.

No "Iran isn't planning to 'Nuke Riyadh" you shill (it probably has something to do with the fact that they don't have nukes – of course, readers of antiwar.com know this). As far as Iran taking over Iraq, I think the Americans did that just fine for them. YES, it IS all Israel, and the sooner the Americans cut ties with them, the better off the region will be.

The IDF does not have the stomach to fight a real army. They are used to pushing around rock throwing Arab teenagers and killing lightly armed Palestianian fighters with tanks, drones and Planes. Iran has a strong army and Israel knows that it can get it’s nose bloodied in a hurry. They don’t waste Jewish lives, they never do that, so its going to be American blood and money again.

lulz. the Iranian would be demolished in a week by Israel. Iran is better than Iraq, but armies dont stand for corrupt governments for long.

There's been much commentary over the years that 1. Israel lacks the military capabilities to mount a successful air attack and 2. even if Israel were capable of doing so, such an attack would do little damage to Iran's nuclear industry.

Also, I don't think Iran would respond in the obvious ways. In the short term I think it would sit back and allow Israel to reap the world's economic and political scorn. Also Iran would withdraw from the NP treaty.

Long term, I think Iran would target Israeli targets around the world–targeted assassinations, embassies, trade offices, etc.

Iran would destroy the saudi, kuwait, iraq oil production thus pushing oil to $500,00 a barrel.
That will lead to a depression in the USA and Europe along with total ruin of the Israel economy.
Not a pretty picture and bibi is willing to destroy the USA and europe for his religion. It is hard to understand how a guy who grew up a rich kid in the mainline USA can become such a war monger who acts like he is a victim. He is no victim but a guy who has used his dead brother to play to those who think things like there is a chance of rebuilding an empire that never existed.

What the end result is the return of the Ottoman Empire who ruled the area for 800 years. They could very well allow Israel to exist but totally encircled by the ottomans. The ottoman defeated the french and british in every battle. The only success they had was with lawrence of Arabia who lead the arabs.

We would be insane to participate in this…..Israel needs to fight this alone PERIOD
They are the occupiers…….they provoke and then expect us to bail them out. Forget it. We should start a TAX REVOLT over this, if we get drawn in.

"…expressed a preference that the Israeli government convince the US to attack instead."

Well, that pretty much says it all. If there was anymore doubt about how Israel believes that the US is there to do Israels bidding I sure don't know what you're smoking. It's time to cut these fools loose and let them fight their own battles. If they want to start a war with a well armed, well staffed neighbor, well, let them fight and pay for their own demise. I imagine it shouldn't take but about a week of retaliation by the Iranians to quickly turn the Israelis people against this idiocy by their "leaders."

And if Obama should fall for this maneuver and actually participate in this criminal act he can pretty much guarantee he'll be a one-termer – even Michelle Bachmann could beat him. As stated above, with oil sky-rocketing to over $400p/b, I wonder how fast the Dems will scramble to find a suitable alternative for the primary season…

They need a new moon so it is dark also. The moon will be new on Nov 25.

There is so much confidence among commentators that I do not share. Exerience shows that US citizens WILL support ANY war. It is only the UNSUCCESSFULL wars people detest. Especially, when combined with any economic discomfort at home. With Libya, I thought for sure there would an an outcry against the wardrums. I was wrong. Most people, those who have never heard of Libya before, absolutely believed on the face value the media drumbeat agains the horrible dictator, and people were absoutely convinced that "something" had to be done. Doing it on the sly, gave Obama the fig leaf, and most people think the action was sucessfull! The carnage of civilians that NATO "action" caused, and the carnage perpetrated by thugs today — of no interest. When Russia and China vetoed Syria, it was like taking candy away. SAME will be with Iran. Media has laid groundwork, and most "reasonable" citizens of this country will be convinced that "something" has to be done. I have NO hope.

Don't forget Bianca, there is no draft anymore.

Typical. They’d rather get the dumb Yankees to do their dirty work again.

And the apec-owned Congress will happily go along with it.

Disgraceful just how owned the USA is.

All the rumors of war from Isreal are co-ordinated with Washington to push for more sanctions. The real attack will come later from Isreal's missile lauching subs in the Gulf, not from planes. That takes care of the problem of cloud cover. After Iran is attacked, it is assumed by isreal that Iran will attack US assets in the gulf and America will then finish the war, picking up the cost of blood and money.
Isreal will then send its planes to southern Lebanon with bunker buster bombs, killing and cleansing it of people so that this time they can occupy and settle it in "peace". Latani River water and off shore gas a bonus.

The Jericho test comes amid a frenzy of speculation in Israel's media about whether senior officials – namely prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak – are pushing for a military strike on Tehran's nuclear program.

But senior ministers in Netanyahu's cabinet slammed the media with foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman saying 99% of the speculation was "false."

Leave it to Haaretz and Antiwar to trumpet the bullshit claims of an anonymous official.

For what it's worth, Haaretz has an article citing the Guardian about British naval preparations for war against Iran.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/rep…

The Ayatollahs and Khamenni hate each other and a good chunk of the people hate both. But there is an article in The Guardian I think saying the British military is accelerating preparations for a war against Iran base on what Obama is up to. Mainly sending what's left of their Navy to fire Tomahawks for the Pentagon. Israel must look like its going to act and Obama is thinking election and striking first so Americans die instead of Israelis in the aftermath. Our oil gets cut off. Our economy takes a bullet for Likud and the West Bank settlers.

I wonder how long the Israeli first mentality would last when serious harm strikes the US? Of course it would be the fault of the Iranians for retaliating against our Pearl Harbor attack. Our friends in Tel Aviv would at least be on our side.

We've been taking it in the pocket book for 40 years because of Israel. What makes you think the American people will object now?

Yes, Afghanistan was invaded for the sake of Israel.

Besides its enormous wealth of rare and strategic minerals, Afghanistan is located between the Israeli-owned gas fields of Turkmenistan and the energy-starved markets of India and China. If Afghanistan were brought under U.S. and Israeli control, the planned TAPI gas pipeline through Afghanistan would bring billions of dollars into Israeli every year. This is the real reason why Ehud Barak pushed for the conquest of Afghanistan. That could be a motive for 9/11.

Wake up world! This has all been predicted by the prophet Daniel. The pieces are falling into place perfectly. The ram will do something to so anger the goat that he will come "from the west on the face of the whole earth" without even touching the ground and will smite the ram. It is after that when the great horn on the goat, the one leading the way, will be finally broken.

I think Israeli should attack now. Enough time has already been wasted. Waiting any longer will just make the job harder to accomplish it’s goal as Iran digs in deeper.


Bachmann vs. the 'Fact-Checkers': Did Iran Threaten Nuclear Attack on U.S.?

In recent weeks, Rep. Michele Bachmann has repeatedly been "corrected" for claiming that Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States and Israel.

Her claim -- especially the part about the U.S. as a target -- first drew a negative reaction during her October 30 interview with Christiane Amanpour on ABC's This Week. Rather than ask Bachmann for specifics to support her allegation, Amanpour instead lectured her about her alleged error:

BACHMANN: Iran has also stated they would be willing to use a nuclear weapon against the United States of America. I think if there's anything that we have learned over the course of history, it is that when a madman speaks, we should listen. And I think in the case of Iran, that is certainly true.

AMANPOUR: Congresswoman, of course the United States is concerned about the nuclear program. Iran denies that it has one, so it hasn't threatened to use them.

The influential advocacy organization Think Progress eagerly reported how Bachmann had gotten caught making a claim "so discordant with the facts that ABC host Christiane Amanpour told the candidate that the claim wasn't possible[.]" The extent of their proof was simply that Amanpour had said it.

After Bachmann repeated the claim in the November 22 debate, Think Progress again responded: "Bachmann's assertion is patently false. Iran has consistently denied that it has a nuclear weapon or is seeking to build one." They took particular offense that she had the gall to persist in smearing Ahmadinejad's good name even after Amanpour had scolded her: ". Bachmann's repeated misrepresentation of Iranian positions, even after being corrected, suggests a willful strategy of attributing inaccurate and incendiary quotes to Ahmadinejad."

PolitiFact similarly concluded there was "no evidence that [Ahmadinejad] has said he would use a nuclear weapon against either country. In fact, he has maintained Iran has no interest in building one." Media Matters Action Network, following the party line, maintained that in the December 15 debate, Bachmann "reiterated her nonsensical claim that Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the U.S."

In the same vein, a Huffington Post columnist admonished Bachmann to "stop lying," claiming, "Bachmann's allegation is completely devoid of truth. As CNN's Truth Squad points out, Iranian leaders never threatened to nuke Israel or the United States, and they couldn't have because they deny pursuing nuclear weapons in the first place."

But the facts prove Bachmann right. First, the mullahs' mouthpiece Ahmadinejad is unambiguous that the regime's goal is the destruction of both Israel and the U.S., having vowed at the "World Without Zionism" conference that "his eminency Imam Khomeini . said that the occupation regime of Qods [Israel] must be wiped off from the map of the world, and with the help of the Almighty, we shall soon experience a world without America and Zionism, notwithstanding those who doubt." Second, his promise to annihilate these two nations, and to do it "soon," is coupled with a nuclear threat: "Today, the Iranian people is the owner of nuclear technology. Those who want to talk with our people should know what people they are talking to[.] . If they have not realized this by now, they soon will, but then it will be too late[.]"

Ahmadinejad promises a second Holocaust by means that only a nuclear weapon could produce -- "[t]he Zionist regime. will be eliminated by one storm" -- followed by attacks on the West: "The rage of the Muslim peoples will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region[.] The waves of the explosion . will reach the corrupt forces [i.e., the Western countries] which support this fake regime [Israel]."

The Iranian president's threat has been echoed by other prominent regime officials. An alert blogger who took issue with Amanpour cited a threat announced in a regime-controlled newspaper that "nuclear devices will go off in American cities" -- and noted a nuclear threat by chief nuclear envoy Ali Larjani (not to be confused with his brother Mohammed, a high-ranking official who responded to our president's outreach by calling him a well-known slur against black people).

In addition, in a speech urging the Muslim world to destroy Israel, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani issued a nuclear threat, sadistically taunting that "application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

PolitiFact even questioned Bachmann's statement that Ahmadinejad threatened "to wipe Israel off the face of the earth," cautioning that "several experts believe Ahmadinejad's actual comments to have been inflated." While stating that they are neutral on the outlandish "mistranslation" charge, PolitiFact gives that same charge credibility simply by bringing it up as an issue deserving examination. Revealingly, the only "expert" whose opinion they quote, from a linked New York Times article, is Juan Cole, a defender of the Iranian regime who rails against the "false charge that [Ahmadinejad] is genocidal . being promoted by Right-Zionists in and out of Congress." (Also cited by the NYT article as an Ahmadinejad expert is The Guardian's Jonathan Steele, who has said nations "are entitled to support" Hamas' murders of Jewish civilians.)

PolitiFact neglected to provide balance by quoting any prominent opponent of Cole's fringe view (such as Christopher Hitchens). And while quoting only Cole from the NYT article, they left out what the article reported regarding the most authoritative experts of all: ". translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with [Steele and Cole]. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement . refer to wiping Israel away[.]" (While PolitiFact generally appears to strive for evenhandedness, their fairness and accuracy are bound to vary among their team of writers, who might be no less fallible than the politicians they cover.)

If Bachmann was wrong in alleging a genocidal threat, then so was virtually the entire House of Representatives, who voted 411-2 to urge the U.N. Security Council to bring charges against Iran's president for violating the 1948 Geneva Convention by threatening to wipe Israel off the map. (Only Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul dissented -- although Kucinich later supported, while Paul opposed, a resolution condemning the regime's 2009 crackdown.

Even if Iran's leaders had not used the word "nuclear" in their death threats, their intentions are clear to anyone who observes their nuclear obsession combined with their murderous vows and actions: 32 years of "Death to America" combined with the slaughter of Americans through their Hezb'allah and al-Qaeda proxies the enormous death toll of Israelis wiped off the map by Palestinian terrorists armed and trained by Iran and the killing and wounding of hundreds in attacks on Jewish civilian targets as far away as Argentina. In this one-sided war, in which the victim nations have never retaliated in kind, any future strike on Iran's nuclear program cannot accurately be called pre-emptive or unprovoked.

The regime's nuclear threats cannot be dismissed as idle bravado in light of their role in exterminating black Africans. Since 1989, Iran has supplied the regime of Sudan's Omar al-Bashir with a steady stream of money, oil, and weapons to facilitate their fellow Islamists' campaign of genocide, slavery, and mass rape -- first of black Christians in southern Sudan, and then of black Muslims in Darfur. Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, the two presidents who threatened the nuclear destruction of Israel, have both visited Khartoum to praise their puppet Bashir for helping Iran spread the Islamic revolution by massacring (at least) hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children -- a clear signal that Iran's leaders are not bluffing when they vow a religiously mandated final war to destroy Israel.

Yet none of the troubling evidence affects the stubborn see-no-evil mindset shared by the "anti-Zionist" internet-based activists courted by the Democratic Party, their strange-bedfellow allies on the far right, elements of the mainstream media, and even "fact-checkers," who reflexively take the side of the Iranian regime over those who state the facts and voice compassionate concern.

Edward Olshaker is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in History News Network, The Jewish Press, FrontPage Magazine, and other publications.

In recent weeks, Rep. Michele Bachmann has repeatedly been "corrected" for claiming that Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States and Israel.

Her claim -- especially the part about the U.S. as a target -- first drew a negative reaction during her October 30 interview with Christiane Amanpour on ABC's This Week. Rather than ask Bachmann for specifics to support her allegation, Amanpour instead lectured her about her alleged error:

BACHMANN: Iran has also stated they would be willing to use a nuclear weapon against the United States of America. I think if there's anything that we have learned over the course of history, it is that when a madman speaks, we should listen. And I think in the case of Iran, that is certainly true.

AMANPOUR: Congresswoman, of course the United States is concerned about the nuclear program. Iran denies that it has one, so it hasn't threatened to use them.

The influential advocacy organization Think Progress eagerly reported how Bachmann had gotten caught making a claim "so discordant with the facts that ABC host Christiane Amanpour told the candidate that the claim wasn't possible[.]" The extent of their proof was simply that Amanpour had said it.

After Bachmann repeated the claim in the November 22 debate, Think Progress again responded: "Bachmann's assertion is patently false. Iran has consistently denied that it has a nuclear weapon or is seeking to build one." They took particular offense that she had the gall to persist in smearing Ahmadinejad's good name even after Amanpour had scolded her: ". Bachmann's repeated misrepresentation of Iranian positions, even after being corrected, suggests a willful strategy of attributing inaccurate and incendiary quotes to Ahmadinejad."

PolitiFact similarly concluded there was "no evidence that [Ahmadinejad] has said he would use a nuclear weapon against either country. In fact, he has maintained Iran has no interest in building one." Media Matters Action Network, following the party line, maintained that in the December 15 debate, Bachmann "reiterated her nonsensical claim that Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the U.S."

In the same vein, a Huffington Post columnist admonished Bachmann to "stop lying," claiming, "Bachmann's allegation is completely devoid of truth. As CNN's Truth Squad points out, Iranian leaders never threatened to nuke Israel or the United States, and they couldn't have because they deny pursuing nuclear weapons in the first place."

But the facts prove Bachmann right. First, the mullahs' mouthpiece Ahmadinejad is unambiguous that the regime's goal is the destruction of both Israel and the U.S., having vowed at the "World Without Zionism" conference that "his eminency Imam Khomeini . said that the occupation regime of Qods [Israel] must be wiped off from the map of the world, and with the help of the Almighty, we shall soon experience a world without America and Zionism, notwithstanding those who doubt." Second, his promise to annihilate these two nations, and to do it "soon," is coupled with a nuclear threat: "Today, the Iranian people is the owner of nuclear technology. Those who want to talk with our people should know what people they are talking to[.] . If they have not realized this by now, they soon will, but then it will be too late[.]"

Ahmadinejad promises a second Holocaust by means that only a nuclear weapon could produce -- "[t]he Zionist regime. will be eliminated by one storm" -- followed by attacks on the West: "The rage of the Muslim peoples will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region[.] The waves of the explosion . will reach the corrupt forces [i.e., the Western countries] which support this fake regime [Israel]."

The Iranian president's threat has been echoed by other prominent regime officials. An alert blogger who took issue with Amanpour cited a threat announced in a regime-controlled newspaper that "nuclear devices will go off in American cities" -- and noted a nuclear threat by chief nuclear envoy Ali Larjani (not to be confused with his brother Mohammed, a high-ranking official who responded to our president's outreach by calling him a well-known slur against black people).

In addition, in a speech urging the Muslim world to destroy Israel, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani issued a nuclear threat, sadistically taunting that "application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

PolitiFact even questioned Bachmann's statement that Ahmadinejad threatened "to wipe Israel off the face of the earth," cautioning that "several experts believe Ahmadinejad's actual comments to have been inflated." While stating that they are neutral on the outlandish "mistranslation" charge, PolitiFact gives that same charge credibility simply by bringing it up as an issue deserving examination. Revealingly, the only "expert" whose opinion they quote, from a linked New York Times article, is Juan Cole, a defender of the Iranian regime who rails against the "false charge that [Ahmadinejad] is genocidal . being promoted by Right-Zionists in and out of Congress." (Also cited by the NYT article as an Ahmadinejad expert is The Guardian's Jonathan Steele, who has said nations "are entitled to support" Hamas' murders of Jewish civilians.)

PolitiFact neglected to provide balance by quoting any prominent opponent of Cole's fringe view (such as Christopher Hitchens). And while quoting only Cole from the NYT article, they left out what the article reported regarding the most authoritative experts of all: ". translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with [Steele and Cole]. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement . refer to wiping Israel away[.]" (While PolitiFact generally appears to strive for evenhandedness, their fairness and accuracy are bound to vary among their team of writers, who might be no less fallible than the politicians they cover.)

If Bachmann was wrong in alleging a genocidal threat, then so was virtually the entire House of Representatives, who voted 411-2 to urge the U.N. Security Council to bring charges against Iran's president for violating the 1948 Geneva Convention by threatening to wipe Israel off the map. (Only Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul dissented -- although Kucinich later supported, while Paul opposed, a resolution condemning the regime's 2009 crackdown.

Even if Iran's leaders had not used the word "nuclear" in their death threats, their intentions are clear to anyone who observes their nuclear obsession combined with their murderous vows and actions: 32 years of "Death to America" combined with the slaughter of Americans through their Hezb'allah and al-Qaeda proxies the enormous death toll of Israelis wiped off the map by Palestinian terrorists armed and trained by Iran and the killing and wounding of hundreds in attacks on Jewish civilian targets as far away as Argentina. In this one-sided war, in which the victim nations have never retaliated in kind, any future strike on Iran's nuclear program cannot accurately be called pre-emptive or unprovoked.

The regime's nuclear threats cannot be dismissed as idle bravado in light of their role in exterminating black Africans. Since 1989, Iran has supplied the regime of Sudan's Omar al-Bashir with a steady stream of money, oil, and weapons to facilitate their fellow Islamists' campaign of genocide, slavery, and mass rape -- first of black Christians in southern Sudan, and then of black Muslims in Darfur. Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, the two presidents who threatened the nuclear destruction of Israel, have both visited Khartoum to praise their puppet Bashir for helping Iran spread the Islamic revolution by massacring (at least) hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children -- a clear signal that Iran's leaders are not bluffing when they vow a religiously mandated final war to destroy Israel.

Yet none of the troubling evidence affects the stubborn see-no-evil mindset shared by the "anti-Zionist" internet-based activists courted by the Democratic Party, their strange-bedfellow allies on the far right, elements of the mainstream media, and even "fact-checkers," who reflexively take the side of the Iranian regime over those who state the facts and voice compassionate concern.

Edward Olshaker is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in History News Network, The Jewish Press, FrontPage Magazine, and other publications.


Watch the video: Attack of the Show - Episode 1402 3172011