Target Iran - Air Strikes - 2004 Developments
On 1 June 2004, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Israel of Joint Direct Attack Munitions as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $319 million.
On 15 July 2004 William S. Lind suggested that "an American-Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Such an attack may very well be on the agenda as the "October Surprise," the distraction President George W. Bush desperately needs if the debacle in Iraq is not to lead to his defeat in November."
On 18 July 2004, the Sunday Times of London reported that the Israeli Air Force had completed preparations for striking the Bushehr reactor, and would do so if Russia supplied Iran with the fuel for the facility. An Israeli defense source, who claimed that mission rehearsals had taken place, was quoted as saying, "Israel will on no account permit the Iranian reactors - especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help - to go critical. ... If the worst comes to the worst and international efforts fail, we are very confident we'll be able to demolish the ayatollah's nuclear aspirations in one go."
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, warned that any aggression against Iranian "scientific" establishments would prompt the Islamic Republic to strike at the "enemy's" interests around the globe.
In late July 2004 public relations head of the Revolutionary Guards, Commander Seyed Masood Jazayeri, said that in retaliation to any attack Iran has proved itself to be "harsh, assertive, hard-hitting and destructive. ... The United States is showing off by threatening to use its wild dog, Israel ... They will not hesitate to strike Iran if they are capable of it. However, their threats to attack Iran's nuclear facilities cannot be realised. They are aware Tehran's reaction will be so harsh that Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth and US interests will be easily damaged," he warned.
Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said in the northeastern city of Gorgan on 25 July 2004 that there is a "weak" possibility that archfoe Israel will attack Iran, Fars News Agency reported the same day. "Still, Iran has thought of the measures needed to repulse all attacks," he said. Separately, the head of the Iranian regular army's land forces, Brigadier General Nasir Mohammadifar, said in Mashhad in northeastern Iran on 25 July, "America would have attacked Iran by now if it were sure it could defeat us." Mohammadifar told a gathering of army inspectors that the United States is "intensely aware" of its "absolute" inability to attack Iran. Also on 25 July 2004, Seyed Masood Jazayeri, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, warned that if Israel attacks, "it will be wiped off the face of the earth."
Brig. Gen. Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, the deputy chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards, said in a statement issued 17 August 2004, "If Israel fires a missile into the Bushehr nuclear power plant, it has to say goodbye forever to its Dimona nuclear facility, where it produces and stockpiles nuclear weapons." The head of the Revolutionary Guards' political bureau, Yadollah Javani, said said in a separate statement that "All the territory under the control of the Zionist regime, including its nuclear facilities, are within the range of Iran's advanced missiles." With Israel now covered by the Shihab missile, he said, "neither the Zionist regime nor America will carry out its threats."
Iranian presidential adviser Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pur commented on events in Al-Najaf in a 19 August 2004 interview with Al-Jazeera television. "We consider this a war between infidelity and Islam. The United States is the spearhead of infidelity. Naturally, we condemn this escalation by the Americans.... We condemn this big massacre against Muslims in Iraq." A day earlier he addressed this topic in an interview with ISNA. He said, "America, its supporters, and international Zionism" will target other Islamic countries if they succeed in Iraq and Palestine, and he accused them of pursuing an anti-Islamic "vendetta."
Iran might launch pre-emptive strikes to protect its nuclear facilities if they are threatened, Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said in remarks broadcast on 20 August 2004 . "We won't sit with our hands tied and wait until someone does something to us," Shamkhani told Arabic channel Al Jazeera when asked what Iran would do if the United States or Israel attacked its atomic facilities. "Some military leaders in Iran are convinced that the pre-emptive measures that America is talking about are not their right alone," he added in Persian. "Any strike on our nuclear facilities will be regarded as a strike on Iran and we will respond with all our might."
Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said "Where Israel is concerned, we have no doubt that it is an evil entity, and it will not be able to launch any military operation without an American green light. You cannot separate the two. ... The US military presence (in Iraq) will not become an element of strength (for Washington) at our expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage" in Iranian hands in the event of an attack.
"The statements of the defence minister have not been reported accurately - to some extent they have been altered," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reze Asefi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA. But Asefi said there had been "misinterpretations", adding, "Mr Shamkhani said that we would defend our territory and national interests and would allow no one to attack the Islamic republic.
"We think that next summer, if Iran is not stopped, it will reach self-sufficiency and this is the point of no return. After this self-capability, it will take them some two years to make a nuclear bomb," Israeli Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) announced on TV Channel 1 two in August 2004.
Israel's chief of staff, General Moshe Ya'alon, said that Iran's nuclear development must be halted before it proceeds much further. He told the Israeli daily "Yediot Ahronot" that "Iran is striving for nuclear capability and I suggest that in this matter [Israel] not rely on others." "If Iran has nuclear capability," said Gen. Ya'alon, "it would be a different Middle East. Moderate states would become more extreme."
Israel's "Yediot Aharonot" newspaper reported on 23 August 2004 that Israeli officials are skeptical about Iranian claims that the completion of the Bushehr nuclear reactor will be delayed by one year. According to the Israeli daily, Israeli and US satellite imagery shows that the water pipes needed to cool the reactor were installed in 2002, and "according to Israeli experts, that is proof that the reactor has reached the point where it is being prepared for operation." An anonymous "Israeli expert" claimed that the "Iranians are conducting a massive cover-up about the reactor."
In mid-Sepetmber 2004 Military Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, told an international symposium organized by the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism, in Herzliya, "The challenge is not just Israel's. ... We have the international community to deal with it either politically (or) economically (to) convince Iran to give up its project. ... If not we'll have to do again our assessment."
The military's deputy chief of general staff, Maj. Gen. Dan Halutz, said in an interview with the Yediot Aharonot newspaper on 14 September 2004 that Israel will wait for the international community to stop Iran's nuclear program "until we reach the point in which we shall have to rely on ourselves. ... In terms of (its) technological capability, Iran will have such a capability within one to three years, depends whom you ask ... If you add this to their ideology which says that Israel must be wiped off (the face) of the earth, a nuclear capability should worry (us)."
"If the state decides that a military solution is required, then the military has to provide a solution," said Israel's new Air Force chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Elyezer Shkedy, in a newspaper interview in mid-Sepetmber 2004. "For obvious reasons," he added, "we aren't going to speak of specifics."
The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported on Sept. 21, 2004, that the United States was planning on selling $319 million's worth of munitions to Israel. The sale would call for the delivery of nearly 5,000 smart bombs, and would include reportedly 2,500 1-ton bombs, 500 250lbs. bombs 850 JDAM kits, as well as 500 JDAM-guided BLU-109 "bunker busters". These munitions would be adequate to address the full range of Iranian targets, with the possible exception of the buried facility at Natanz. This might require the BLU-113 bunker busters. This penetrator can through 20 feet of concrete and when dropped onto hard ground, can penetrate down to 100 feet.
During the First Presidential Debate on 30 September 2004, John Kerry said "Iran and North Korea are now more dangerous. Now, whether preemption is ultimately what has to happen, I don't know yet."
On 15 November 2004 Iran suspended sensitive fuel-cycle related activities in declared sites. "Iran has decided, on a voluntary basis, to continue and extend its suspension to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities, and specifically: the manufacturing and import of gas centrifuges and their components; work to undertake any plutonium separation, or to construct or operate any plutonium separation installation; and all tests or production at any uranium conversion installation." This freeze did not cover heavy water production, or construction of the plutonium production reactor.
Iran's negotiations with Europe opened on 20 December 2004. They are focused on an offer by Britain, Germany, and France to give Iran trade advantages and technical assistance in exchange for Tehran permanently giving up its fuel cycle activities. A similar suspension deal between European powers and Iran in late 2003 fell apart amid disagreements over the terms.
On 26 Decmber 2004 the Islamic Republic of Iran reiterated that it had no interest in the presence of the United States in Iran's talks with Europe on nuclear issues and considers it contrary to its national interests. Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi also said talks with the US or the US presence at these talks is not on Tehran's agenda. Asefi in his weekly press conference reiterated that the issue of uranium enrichment suspension is temporary, adding, Iran will not change its right in the field of nuclear energy with anything. Asefi said the activity of Iran and Europe's nuclear, security and political committees continues, and added, the results of these committees' work will be surveyed in European capitals or Tehran, and Iran will then evaluate the results.
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