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Target Iran - Air Strikes - 2005 Developments

In January 2005 President Bush reiterated Washington's desire to see the nuclear disputes with both Iran and North Korea resolved through talks. "Diplomacy must be the first choice and always the first choice of an administration trying to solve an issue of, in this case, nuclear armament, and we'll continue to press on diplomacy," Bush said.

Hamid-Reza Asefi, Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, appeared on Jam-e Jam 1 (Iran) on January 11, 2005. He said "The Muslim world feels threatened by Israel. That is true. They themselves don't hide this. They still want to make good on the slogan, "from the Nile to the Euphrates." We did not start a war with the Israelis. It is the diplomatic right of every nation to define its identity. Iran has the right to recognize one country, and not to recognize another. It is its diplomatic right to consider the Zionist regime an illegitimate regime and an illegitimate country, and not to recognize it. It may be that someone will destroy the nuclear facilities, but it is impossible to destroy the nuclear know-how. This know-how is in the minds of this country's youth. If a given facility should be destroyed, another one will be built. We are not worried on that count. The Americans and the Israelis themselves said that an attack on Iran's facilities would not solve the problem, since Iran already possesses the relevant knowledge. If they destroy any facilities, they will be rebuilt elsewhere the next day."

On 17 January 2005 President George W. Bush has said he would not rule out military action against Iran if that country is not more cooperative over its suspected nuclear weapons program. Speaking on US television, Bush said he would rather resolve the standoff with Iran diplomatically. But he said he will never rule out any option. "I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," he said.

In a MSNBC interview with Don Imus on 20 January 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney said Iran is at the top of Washington's list of world trouble spots. "We are, I'd say, very concerned about Iran, because for two reasons, again, one, they do have a program. We believe they have a fairly robust new nuclear program. That's been developed by, or being pursued I guess would be the best way to put it, by members of the E.U.-the Brits, the Germans and the French-have been negotiating with the Iranians to get them to allow greater transparency in their program so the outside world can be confident they're not building weapons, that it's for peaceful purposes.

"The other problem we have, of course, is that Iran is a noted sponsor of terror. They've been the prime backers of the Hezbollah over the years, and they have, in fact, been-used terror in various incendiary ways to kill Americans and a lot of other folks around the globe, too, and that combination is of great concern.

"We'll continue to try to address those issues diplomatically, continue to work with the Europeans. At some point, if the Iranians don't live up to their commitments, the next step will be to take it to the U.N. Security Council, and seek the imposition of international sanctions to force them to live up to the commitments and obligations they've signed up to under the non-proliferation treaty, and it's-but it is a-you know, you look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list.

" ... one of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked, that if, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.

Cheney concluded by saying "We don't want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it. And certainly in the case of the Iranian situation, I think everybody would be best suited by or best treated and dealt with if we could deal with it diplomatically."

French President Jacques Chirac said in February 2005 at a meeting with Iranian negotiator Hassan Rowhani that France would agree to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determining the "objective guarantees" from Tehran that its nuclear program is a peaceful one.

On 03 March 2005 Iran warned that Gulf Arab oil would be endangered by a US attack on the Islamic republic. Iranian Expediency Council secretary Mohsen Rezai said "An attack on Iran will be tantamount to endangering Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and - in a word - the entire Middle East oil." Rezai, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and a candidate for president, said that a Western attack on Iran would send oil prices rocketing to $70 per barrel.

The United States announced on 11 March 2005 that it had decided to support the E3's diplomacy by dropping its objection to Iran's application to the World Trade Organisation. The US decision to stop blocking Iran's bid to join the World Trade Organisation and ease sanctions on civilian aircraft parts but was unwilling to say whether it would participate in the gestures. In return, the EU3 agreed to support the US bid to send the case to the Security Council if Tehran resumed uranium enrichment.

On 11 March 2005 President Seyed Mohammad Khatami said that the Middle East region`s greatest nuclear arsenal is owned by Israel. He added that the US not only has no objection to Israel`s nuclear programs, but supports the expansionist policies and broad violation of human rights by the Zionist regime. He made the point as a criticism against the US dual policy, contrasting it with the pressure exerted by Washington on Iran for its peaceful nuclear activities, on wild guesses. "According to the International Atomic Energy Agency`s nuclear- Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the member countries are entitled to have access to peaceful nuclear technology and nothing can deprive Iran of such a legitimate right," he added. The chief executive underlined that Iran is prepared to take any measure towards confidence-building and to give guarantee to the world community regarding the peaceful nature of its nuclear programs.

Iranian spokesmen noted that they were expecting genuine confidence-building measures on the part of the U.S.: removing the freeze on the billions of dollars in Iranian assets in U.S. banks, lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran, and reversing the hostile U.S. policy towards Iran. Only then would Iran reconsider its policy toward the U.S. - but no matter what, uranium enrichment and the development of nuclear energy would remain Iran's right as a sovereign state, and would remain non-negotiable.

On March 13, 2005 the Sunday Times of London reported that Israel had drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme. The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, reportedly gave "initial authorisation" for an attack at a meeting in February at his ranch in the Negev desert.

On 21 April 2005 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said "Ultimately, I don't think there will be any alternative but to bring (Iran) to the U.N. Security Council and to take diplomatic and economic steps as pressure to stop this (nuclear effort)." Sharon told Israel Radio that "I am troubled by the fact -- we hear this perhaps more in Europe than in the United States -- that the world is beginning to grow accustomed to the idea that the day will come and Iran will be a member of the nuclear weapons club. This is particularly troubling, mainly because we are aware of Iran's threats against Israel. It is a country where even the so-called moderates speak of a national goal of destroying Israel and the Jewish people"

Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden told host Chris Wallace in Fox News Channel's "Iran: The Nuclear Threat" which aired 24 April 2005 "To have a despotic theocracy in possession of a nuclear weapon, creates a much bigger danger than having a democratically elected government in control of a nuclear weapon. ... They're much more likely to use it or threaten to use it or attempt to use it for blackmail." Wallace asks: "You're saying at this point a nuclear Iran is unacceptable?" "Correct," Biden replies.

If the European initiative led to good-faith negotiations with Iran, the United States would have to consider whether to join the talks to reach a "grand bargain" to end the nuclear crisis. Some suggested that Iran's vision of a grand bargain would involve significant engagement by the US, along with clear guarantees about Iran's security. But unlike North Korea, which has explicitly sought security guarantees, this construct has not been articulated by senior Iranian leaders. And it is difficult to imagine any US administration making such guarantees to the Iranian regime, which appears to continue to regard a fundamental theological hostility to the United States [and Israel] as the bedrock of the regime's worldview.

On 13 August 2005 President Bush once again refused to rule out the use of force against Iran. When asked in an interview with Israeli television if the use of force was an alternative if diplomacy failed, Bush said: "All options are on the table. ... The use of force is the last option for any president. You know we have used force in the recent past to secure our country... I have been willing to do so as a last resort in order to secure the country and provide the opportunity for people to live in free societies ... we want diplomacy to work and so we are working feverishly on the diplomatic route and, you know, we will see if we are successful or not. As you know I'm sceptical ... "

On 02 September 2005 British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said there is no plan to attack Iran and that the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program must be resolved diplomatically. "Nobody's proposing military action in respect of Iran," said Jack Straw. "Nobody whatever. It is not on anybody's agenda at all. This is an issue, which needs to be resolved, and can only be resolved, by diplomatic means."

On 06 September 2005 a leading independent policy analysis group in London said Iran faced technical difficulties in producing nuclear weapons, which could take up to 10 to 15 years to overcome, that is in the 2015-2020 timeframe. The new report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said it would take Iran at least five years to produce enough weapons grade uranium for a single weapon if it made a political decision, that is, by 2010.

On 24 September 2005 the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution accusing Iran of failing to comply with international nuclear safeguard agreements. The resolution puts Iran on notice that it could be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it fails to cooperate fully with IAEA inspectors. The resolution was approved by a vote of 22 in favor, 1 against (Venezuela), and 12 abstentions.

On 28 September 2005 British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it is "inconceivable" that any military action will be taken against Iran over its nuclear program. Mr. Straw told British radio Wednesday, that the use of military force is "not on the agenda." He said Mr. Bush was taking a position advocated by "all United States presidents." The Daily Telegraph, which strongly supports Israel, said Tuesday that it had detected Downing Street distancing itself from the Foreign Secretary a day after Straw declared that the crisis "will not be resolved by military means." Blair's office was said to have "lined up behind" US President George W. Bush, who has made clear that "all options are on the table" while wanting a diplomatic solution.

On 02 October 2005 Majlis Speaker Gholamali Haddad Adel said Iran would give Israel a lesson which it could not forget forever if it targeted Iranian nuclear sites as it did against Iraqi installations in 1991.

On 05 October 2005 European Union High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana said Wednesday that the EU was not considering military action against the Islamic Republic. "On Iran I can tell you we don't consider any military action," Solana told the Foreign Relations Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels

On 19 October 2005 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified before Congress yesterday that President George W. Bush has not ruled out military force against Syria and Iran for their suspected complicity in the Iraq insurgency. Three senators -- including two members of President Bush's Republican Party -- pressed Rice about possible military strikes against Syria and Iran, and whether Bush would seek authorization from Congress before taking such action. Rice avoided answering the questions directly.

On 26 October 2005 Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad cited comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic revolution, when he declared, "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map." Ahmadinejad told an audience of 3,000 students that there was "no doubt the new wave [of attacks] in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world." During the eight-year term of President Mohammad Khatami, the Islamic Republic followed a policy of detente and Khatami used every opportunity to promote his idea of "dialogue among civilizations". President Ahmadinejad had harsh words for Islamic countries that might recognize Israel. "Anybody who takes a step toward Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury," he said.

Political figures in Iran spoke out against Ahmadinejad's suggestion that Israel should be "wiped off the map." Former President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami said, "We are not on a global mission," adding that Iran should not try to change other countries. Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who preceded Khatami as president and lost to Ahmadinejad in a two-man runoff in June 2005, said the time for such slogans had passed.

On 30 October 2005 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stressed the government's support for continuation of nuclear activities at Isfahan's Uranium Conversion Facility, saying Iran will continue work at UCF.

On 17 November 2005 it was reported that Iran had started a new round of uranium conversion, despite international calls for it to halt sensitive nuclear work. Iran conducted an earlier round of nuclear work in August 2005, prompting the European Union to break off talks with the Islamic Republic about its nuclear program.

On 25 November 2005 the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors agreed to postpone talk of referring Iran to the UN Security Council for possible economic sanctions over its nuclear program in order to pursue a compromise proposal offered by Russia.

On 01 December 2005 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel will never accept a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons. Sharon said Israel needs to do everything possible to prevent such a situation, which he said would threaten stability in the Mideast.

On 04 December 2005 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel cannot tolerate a situation in which Iran will become a nuclear power. Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz doubts that diplomatic pressure will halt Iran's nuclear ambitions. General Halutz said there is a military option against Iran, but he refused to say who should take it. Asked how far Israel is ready to go to stop Iran's nuclear program, General Halutz quipped, "2,000 kilometers." That is the distance from Israel to Iran.

On 05 December 2005 Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Yahya Rahim-Safavi said in Mashhad that Iran is a "great regional power" that the United States and Israel have "no capacity to resist." Minister of Defense and Logistics of Armed Forces Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najar said that no power dares to target Iran, thanks to the martyrs' blood and patience and resistance of their families.

On 08 December 2005 President Ahmadinejad said, according to Al-Alam television, on the sidelines of an Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting in Saudi Arabia that "if the Europeans claim that the Zionists were suppressed during the Second World War, they can place a part of Europe at their disposal."

On 11 December 2005 the British newspaper "The Sunday Times" quoted unnamed Israeli military sources as saying that they had been ordered to be ready, by March 2006, to launch combined air and ground attacks on Iran's uranium-enrichment sites. Israel reacted swiftly to the report. "This is ridiculous. I do not know of any decision. I think it is entirely baseless," said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel cannot allow Iran to obtain atomic weapons. "It would be a nightmare for all of us if this kind of regime will hold a nuclear bomb," he said. "It will destabilize not only our region it will destabilize the whole world. And that's why all of us should be united in these days."

On 11 December 2005 Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammad Elbaradei warned Israel on any military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Speaking to an Oslo daily Afetnposten he said "There can be no success in thwarting any nation' access on nuclear program by attacking their facilities because military forays will merely delay their programs, but they will come back after a while and want to take revenge."

On 13 December 2005 Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani said that Iran can defend itself and needs no security guarantees from the United States. On 12 December 2005, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei had suggested that the United States might have to include security guarantees for Iran in order to attain a definite agreement on Iran's nuclear program. Larijani said: "Iran does not need such haughty assurances. It has a good capacity" for defense. He said Iran is surrounded by nuclear-armed states and "we just want an attentive ear to understand this." He said countries with nuclear bombs "cannot admonish others. The Americans have not given a proper answer to this, and Iran does not need such sympathy in matters of security."

In a 14 December 2005 speech in the city of Zahedan in southeastern Sistan va Baluchistan Province, President Ahmadinejad said that if the Holocaust took place in Europe and Europeans feel so guilty about it, then that is where Israel should be located, state television reported. "They have created a myth today and they call it the massacre of the Jews [the Holocaust]," he added.

On 16 December 2005 Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar stressed that Iran will vigorously respond to any kind of aggression. He referred to the threats by some Zionist regime officials regarding attacking Iran's nuclear sites. Mohammad Najjar said Iran's defense policy was quite defensive but stressed that Iranian "armed forces would provide a rapid, strong and destructive response if the country faced any aggression."

On 25 December 2005 Iran's Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei in response to German Weekly " Der Spiegel" claim concerning the possibility of US attack to Iran said, "The US statesmen are more clever to have the intention of attacking Iran, because they know that such an act would have a very expensive cost for them".



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