Sunday 25 December 2011

Build-up to war

This piece is from the Israeli media.

Generally, compared with the beat-up of the Syrian situation there is very little coverage of this  build-up to war. Al-Jazeera has had NOTHING on Iran for weeks.

No doubt when the West is ready to launch their attack the propaganda will start in earnest and we will get saturation propaganda/coverage.

Nuke expert: Time to attack Iran

Former Obama Administration strategist says US-perpetrated attack on Islamic Republic's nuclear program could spare world from very real threat
24 December, 2011

WASHINGTON - A former special adviser on Iran policy to the Obama Administration said that a US-perpetrated strike on the Islamic Republic on is the "least bad" option in dealing with its nuclear threat.

"The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States," Matthew Kroenig, a nuclear security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who served as a strategist under Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said in an article published by Foreign Affairs Magazine.

Kroenig acknowledged that a military operation in Iran is not an "attractive prospect," but explained that it is within the US' power to minimize the anticipated effects.

"If it does so successfully, it can remove the incentive for other nations in the region to start their own atomic programs and, more broadly, strengthen global nonproliferation by demonstrating that it will use military force to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons," Kroenig wrote.

'Israeli strike likely to fail'

The former strategist posited that if the US attacks, it could also prevent Israel from perpetrating a strike that is destined to fail.

 "Given Israel's limited capability to mitigate a potential battle and inflict lasting damage," Kroenig said, an Israeli strike "would likely result in far more devastating consequences and carry a far lower probability of success than a US attack."

Kroenig warned that waging a cold war against Tehran, aimed at containing its nuclear capabilities, is "a costly, decades-long proposition that would likely still result in grave national security threats."

While recognizing the US' reluctance to enter yet another military conflict, Kroenig claimed that a speedy nuclear development in Iran will eventually force it to choose between a conventional confrontation and a nuclear one.

"The United States should conduct a surgical strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, absorb an inevitable round of retaliation, and then seek to quickly de-escalate the crisis," he concluded. "Addressing the threat now will spare the United States from confronting a far more dangerous situation in the future.”

Iran 'rehearses closing gulf oil route'
23 December, 2011

Iranian naval forces launch a massive 10-day exercise Saturday near the Strait of Hormuz, the only way in and out of the Persian Gulf, in what is widely seen as a rehearsal for a threatened closure of the strategic global oil artery if the country is attacked.

The Iranians have billed the Velayat-90 drill as the largest they have conducted. It will involve the Islamic republic's navy, which includes three Russian-built, Kilo class submarines, and the naval wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Navy commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayari said the exercises will cover an area extending from the eastern end of the horseshoe-shaped strait in the Gulf of Oman, south and west through the Arabian Sea, the major oil route to Asia, to the piracy-plagued Gulf of Aden.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Dec. 14 that closing the strait was "not on the agenda."

But he stressed: "The ability to do so exists … whether to go ahead lies with the regime's top officials."

Two days earlier Parviz Sarvari, a member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security Committee, told the student news agency ISNA: "Soon we will hold military maneuvers on how to close the Strait of Hormuz.

"If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration calls the 112-mile-long strait the most important oil transit channel in the world. Some 15.5 million barrels of oil -- 33 percent of the world's seaborne oil shipments -- pass through the strait every day.

This includes most of the crude exported by Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq, along with virtually all the liquefied natural gas from top exporter Qatar.

The strait is 34 miles wide at its narrowest point. But shipping is funneled through a traffic route 6 miles wide, with two 2-mile lanes, inbound and outbound, separated by a 2-mile-wide median.

The Iranians would be likely to use a combination of sea mines, anti-ship cruise missiles and swarms of small gunboats to close the strait, analysts say.

Sarvari's comments pushed up oil prices by $3 a barrel to more than $100, underlining how sensitive the market is to talk of sealing off Hormuz.

Theodore Karasik of Dubai's Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis says that's chicken feed compared to what would transpire if the strait is closed.

"The consequences are that international shipping, in particular in terms of energy, would grind to a halt," he said.

"This would put immense pressure on the world's economies. You'll see the price of oil skyrocket, probably up to $250 a barrel."

Tension between the West and Iran, triggered by Tehran's alleged drive to produce nuclear weapons, heightened Nov. 8 when the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' watchdog body, said Iran appeared to have worked on designing a nuclear weapon and may still be doing so. Tehran denies that.

The Iranians, who have repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz over the years, face the U.S. 5th Fleet, the most powerful naval force between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Its headquarters are the tiny gulf state of Bahrain.

Velayat-90 is certain to put Iranian warships in close proximity to U.S. and British naval vessels, which patrol the waters in which the Iranians will be exercising.

With tension running high between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program and stringent international economic sanctions imposed in June 2010, the potential for confrontation has increased.

The Americans are considering imposing further sanctions aimed at choking off Iran's vital oil exports and its petrochemical industry.

This move comes amid a sharp increase in Israeli media speculation that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing government will unleash unilateral pre-emptive military strikes against Iran.

The United Arab Emirates is completing a pipeline from its oil fields to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman that bypasses the chokepoint strait. The 230-mile pipeline is part of a strategic effort by the gulf Arab states to ensure global oil supplies if hostilities erupt with Iran.

The pipeline will have an initial capacity will be 1.5 million barrels a day. But that's only a fraction of the region's seaborne oil exports.

And for an Iranian point-of-view...

Anti-Iran accusations-News Analysis
Press TV,
24 December, 2011

In New York, a judge has signed a default judgment excluding Saudi Arabia from the list of defendants, but finding Iran, along with the Taliban and al-Qaida, liable in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

This edition of News Analysis asks: Why Saudi Arabia was excluded, and why Iran was included, 10 years after the fact?

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