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Target Iran - Countdown Timeline

20 January 2009
Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, taking the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol before a crowd of more than one million people. The Bush Administration did not bomb Iran, and the Obama Administration initially appeared unlikely to do so. The election of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad as Iran's new president appeared to preclude a negotiated resolution of Iran's nuclear program. The Obama Administration appeared likely to seek to "deny the benefits" of Iran's nuclear weapons capability by asserting that usable weapons are only a future possibility, and that there is still time for patient diplomacy. Iran will not dispute these claims.

November 2009
Reversing the Bush Administration policy, the Obama administration provided Israel with a limited number of GBU-28 bunker buster bombs. During the November 2009 Executive Session of the 40th Joint Political Military Group (JPMG), US and Israeli counterparts discussed the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel, noting that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.

01 July 2010
In the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-195) (22 U.S.C. 8501 et seq.) (CISADA), which President Obama signed into law on 01 July 2010, the Congress found that the illicit nuclear activities of the Government of Iran, along with its development of unconventional weapons and ballistic missiles and its support for international terrorism, threaten the security of the United States.

28 September 2010
To take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12957 and to implement section 105(a) of CISADA (22 U.S.C. 8514(a)), President Obama issued Executive Order 13553 on September 28, 2010, to impose sanctions on officials of the Government of Iran and other persons acting on behalf of the Government of Iran determined to be responsible for or complicit in certain serious human rights abuses.

November 2010
In November 2010, The Guardian published the text of the November 2009 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealing that US and Israeli officials had discussed the delivery to Israel of GBU-28 "bunker buster" bombs.

23 May 2011
To take additional steps with respect to the threat posed by Iran and to provide implementing authority for a number of the sanctions set forth in ISA, as amended by, inter alia, CISADA, President Obama issued Executive Order 13574 on May 23, 2011, to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to implement certain sanctions imposed pursuant to ISA by the Secretary of State.

21 November 2011
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he agrees with the assessment of his predecessor, Robert Gates, that a military strike would only set the Iranian nuclear program back by three years at most. Youve got to be careful of unintended consequences here and those consequences could involve not only, not really deterring Iran from what they want to do, but more importantly it could have a serious impact in the region and it could have a serious impact on U.S. forces in the region," said Panetta.

21 November 2011
The Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172) (50 U.S.C. 1701 note) (ISA) requires that, absent a waiver, the President impose at least three of nine possible forms of sanctions on persons determined to have made certain investments in Iran's energy sector. The CISADA expanded ISA to, inter alia, require the same treatment of persons determined to have provided refined petroleum to Iran. President Obama issued Executive Order 13590 on 21 November 2011 that authorized the Secretary of State to impose similar sanctions on persons determined to have provided certain goods, services, technology, or support that contributes to either Iran's development of petroleum resources or to Iran's production of petrochemicals, two sectors that continue to fund Iran's illicit nuclear activities.

27 November 2011
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he was cautioning Israel not to take military action against Iran, as the U.N. nuclear agency prepared to debate a resolution expressing "deep and increasing concern" about Iran's nuclear program. Panetta said on the eve of his meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak, that a military strike could have severe economic consequences around the world. He said the U.S. will continue to focus on sanctions as a means to curb Iran's suspected nuclear weapons ambitions.

17 December 2011
A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States and no option to prevent that from happening is off the table, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told CBS News. Panetta told 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelley that if Iranian leaders decided to go full bore on their nuclear program, then they could have nuclear weapons within a year. It could be quicker if the Iranians have a hidden facility enriching fuel, the secretary said during the interview. The secretary, speaking aboard his aircraft on the way back from a visit to the Middle East, Central Asia and Libya, pointed out that Israel and the United States share a common concern about Iran developing nukes. Thats a red line for us, he said. And its a red line, obviously, for the Israelis. If we have to do it, we will do it.

31 December 2011
On 31 December 2011, US President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions which seek to punish countries importing Iran's oil or doing transaction with Irans Central Bank. Under Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct or facilitate certain significant transactions with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) or with Iranian financial institutions designated by the Treasury Department risk being cut off from direct access to the U.S. financial system.

23 January 2012
The 27 EU members slapped an embargo on Iranian oil supplies on Monday 23 January 2012. The toughest measure yet to force the Islamic Republic to drop its controversial nuclear plans and return to negotiations, the move stipulates an immediate ban on all new oil contracts with Iran, while existing contracts will be honored until 01 July 2012. The EU imported around one-fifth of Iran's oil exports -- Irans most valuable asset. Negotiations were ongoing with several countries, including Saudi Arabia, to replace the Iranian imports. Oil exports make up some 60 percent of the Tehrans revenues. Greece, Italy and Spain consume a total of 68 percent of the Iranian oil imported to Europe, with Greece being the largest consumer, accounting for 35 percent of the imports. Reports said additional restrictions on Iran's central bank also had been agreed. The ministers also agreed to ban trade in gold, precious metals, and diamonds with the regime and froze assets of three more people and eight entities, mostly in the transport sector.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the sanctions in a statement on Monday, saying that they are ill-advised and likely to backfire. Its an obvious pressure and dictate, an attempt to punish Iran for stubbornness. This is a deeply wrong policy, and we have repeatedly pointed as much to our European partners. Iran would make no concessions under such pressure, the statement said.

Also on Monday the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Irans Bank Tejerat. The United States will continue to impose new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran, the president said in a statement. We will continue to increase the pressure unless Iran acts to change course and comply with its international obligations.

25 January 2012
The United States will use all available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal, Obama said. The [Tehran] regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent, he added. At the same time, the U.S. president reiterated that a peaceful way of resolving the Iran nuclear issue remained a priority. A peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations, Obama said.

01 February 2012
The Iranian currency, the rial, lost about 50 percent of its value over the month of January 2012. Iran's currency slumped to a record low against the U.S. dollar on 02 January 2011, two days after U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions that could affect Iran's central bank and financial system. Traders said the exchange rate dipped to around 17,000 rials to the dollar, which is about a 10 percent slide from the exchange rate a few days earlier. Gold prices have also rocketed in Iran as people have put their savings into gold. Soaring food prices are the most explosive issue for many people. Citizens are stockpiling food, gold and foreign currencies amid rapid inflation and currency devaluation. The price of things like meat and milk are up 50%. Services like electricity and water are costing more, too.

02 February 2012
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference security forum attended by some of Israels top intelligence and military leaders, declared that time was running out for stopping Irans nuclear advance. If sanctions dont achieve the desired goal of stopping [Irans] military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action, he declared. Barak said he saw Iran as nearing a stage which may render any physical strike as impractical.... A nuclear Iran will be more complicated to deal with, more dangerous and more costly in blood than if it were stopped today, he said. Whoever says later may find that later is too late, Barak said. He switched from Hebrew to English for the last phrase: later is too late. Speaking at the same conference, the chief of military intelligence, Gen. Aviv Kochavi, said Iran already has enough fissile material to build four nuclear weapons and could do so within a year if Iranian leaders gave the order. Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the chief of Israeli military intelligence, told the audience that he believed crippling sanctions could persuade the Iranian government to abandon what he believed was its determination to build a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved a sweeping package of tough new sanctions intended to force Iran to drop its controversial nuclear program. The new sanctions, which have yet to be approved by the U.S. Congress, target foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran's national oil and tanker companies, as well as foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies that do business with Iran. They also include measures that directly target individuals and companies linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

03 February 2012
In the 03 February 2012 edition of the Washington Post, David Ignatius wrote "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ... believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June before Iran enters what Israelis described as a zone of immunity to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon and only the United States could then stop them militarily. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesnt want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action... A short-war scenario assumes five days or so of limited Israeli strikes, followed by a U.N.-brokered cease-fire."

24 November 2013
Iran and the Group of Six countries holding talks over Tehran's nuclear program clinched a last-minute agreement Sunday morning following four days of talks, apparently resolving the decade-long dispute over the issue. A formal signing ceremony was held in the UN building in Geneva involving representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States, led by the coordinator for the group, European Commission foreign relations head Catherine Ashton. The core of the deal is a freeze on Iran's nuclear program, in particular work on enrichment facilities, in exchange for a relaxation of the economic sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. The deal is interim and envisages further negotiations to hammer out measures to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.



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