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Target Iran - Air Strikes - 2006 Developments

On 10 January 2006 Iran broke International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seals at the Natanz enrichment facility. The IAEA and many countries expressed unhappiness with this development, although Iran described its actions as "research" only. Iranian officials said they only plan on a small-scale pilot program feeding uranium hexafluoride gas made from yellowcake into a centrifuge cascade at Natanz to be spun into enriched uranium. IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei informed the IAEA governing board on 10 January that Iran intends to begin "small-scale" uranium enrichment at its Natanz facility.

On 13 January 2006 British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said military action against Iran is not an option. "This can only be resolved by peaceful means, let us be clear about that," he said. "Nobody is talking about invading Iran or taking military action against Iran. And, again to quote the White House, Iran is not Iraq." On 21 January 2006 Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said on 21 January that his country was prepared for military action to stop Iran's nuclear program.

On 22 January 2006 Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz hinted that Israel is preparing for military action against Iran's nuclear facilities. "Israel cannot accept an Iranian nuclear capability and it must defend itself, with all that that implies," Mofaz said. "We are preparing," he added.

On 22 January 2006 radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said his militiamen will help defend Iran if it comes under attack, as the international community pressures Iran about its nuclear ambitions.

On 25 January 2006 Iranian Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammad Najjar today warned Israel that, if it attacks Iran, it will fall into an "eternal coma like [Ariel] Sharon," Israel's prime minister, who remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital. He said that the vigilance by the Iranian nation would eventually neutralize all "evil plots" by both Israel and the United States.

On 25 January 2006 Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, challenged the military option in an interview with Radio Farda: "President [Mahmud] Ahmadinejad's government is very unpopular at the moment. The Islamic regime has had problems for years now, but the new hard line president's actions, for example trying to ban Western music and crack down on how people behave, what they listen to, and what they watch has made him an unpopular figure inside Iran except for this issue of the nuclear problem. This is a nationalist cause for the Iranian people. ... If the U.S. or Israel would attack Iran -- even a limited strike on facilities such as the uranium- conversion plant at Isfahan -- it would inflame the Iranian public, it would inflame the anger throughout the entire Muslim world. [It is] the one thing that could turn this government from an unpopular government into a highly successful government."

On 25 January 2006 a "Los Angeles Times" / Bloomberg survey found that 57 percent of the 1,555 adult Americans polled "favor military intervention" if the Iranian government pursues a program that could be used for the manufacturing of nuclear arms. Responding to a similar question one year ago, only 50 percent of respondents favored using the military in Iran.

On 29 January 2006 President Bush said on CBS's "Face the Nation" program that the world cannot allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons. "Our strategy is to present and hold together a united front to say to the Iranians, 'Your designs to have a nuclear weapon or your desire to have the capability of making a nuclear weapon is unacceptable,'" he said. Bush said precautions over Iran's nuclear program are necessary because Iran has a "non-transparent government" and because the leader of Iran has openly stated his desire to destroy Israel. "I think it's best I just leave it that all options should be on the table, and the last option is the military option. "

On 31 January 2006 the Islamic Republic Army's senior commander in Qazvin and Zanjan, Brigadier General Bahram Babaiepour, said the enemy is in doubt about choosing the military option for invasion of Islamic Iran's territory. "Being quite aware of the Islamic Republic armed forces' full combat preparedness with the full backing of the Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces, the people and officials, enemies have come to the conclusion that military option is by no means effective," he said.

On 31 January 2006 a "Washington Post"-ABC News poll found that only 42 percent of Americans favor bombing Iranian nuclear sites. Some 54 percent oppose this course of action and 70 percent of respondents said they back international economic sanctions in an effort to stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

On 31 January 2006 the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council agreed that Iran should be reported to the Security Council because of questions regarding its nuclear program. The decision was announced following hours of talks in London by the foreign ministers of the five countries -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China -- along with Germany. The Security Council whould wait for a report -- due to be delivered by IAEA Director- General Muhammad el-Baradei at a scheduled meeting in March -- before taking any action to reinforce the authority of the IAEA.

On 02 February 2006 Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammad-Najjar told a gathering of military and police officers in the southern port of Bushehr that Iran's armies are ready to meet any threat, ISNA reported. "The armed forces have such a high level of readiness [that] they will deal their crushing blows to the aggressors, like a thunderbolt," in responding to any attack, he said.

IAEA governing board members were in Vienna on 2 and 3 February to discuss a resolution on the Iranian nuclear program and the possibility of reporting Iran to the UN Security Council for suspected nonproliferation violations.

On 04 February 2006 the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member governing board voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council, international news agencies reported. The only countries that voted against the resolution were Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela. Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya, and South Africa abstained.

On 04 February 2006 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a letter to the head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) ordered the rescinding of the voluntary suspension of the Additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other related cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Organization.

On 04 February 2006 Senator John McCain said the only thing worse than military action is a nuclear-armed Iran. McCain added that military force is a "totally undesirable option" of last resort.

On 14 February 2006 Iran said it has started small-scale uranium enrichment - an initial step in the process of producing fuel for civilian nuclear reactors or atomic weapons. Top Iranian nuclear official Javad Vaeidi told reporters in Tehran that work has resumed at the Natanz nuclear plant. He did not elaborate. Earlier, diplomats at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said Iranian technicians have fed uranium gas into centrifuge machines for enrichment.

On 16 February 2006 French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy for the first time called Iran's nuclear program a "clandestine military" project. Douste-Blazy told French television that it is, as he put it, "very simple: no civilian nuclear program can explain Iran's nuclear program." Douste-Blazy called the enrichment "a clandestine military nuclear program."

On 17 February 2006 Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said the Islamic republic has injected uranium gas into a small number of centrifuges, a step in the process of uranium enrichment. He said that Iran was not yet at the point of getting enriched uranium, and that several more months of work may be necessary.

On 08 May 2006 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter to the US President George W. Bush. He called on Bush to accept Islam -- since in traditional Muslim belief it is only Islam that guarantees "monotheism, worship of God, justice, respect for the dignity of man, belief in the Last Day. ... Do you not think that if all of us come to believe in and abide by these principles, that is, monotheism, worship of God, justice, respect for the dignity of man, belief in the Last Day, we can overcome the present problems of the world - that are the result of disobedience to the Almighty and the teachings of prophets - and improve our performance? Do you not think that belief in these principles promotes and guarantees peace, friendship and justice? Do you not think that the aforementioned written or unwritten principles are universally respected? Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets? Mr President, History tells us that repressive and cruel governments do not survive."

In a Hadith, Muhammad tells his followers to call people to Islam before waging war against them: "Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war.When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them..If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [the tax on non-Muslims specified in Qur'an 9:29]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them." (Sahih Muslim 4294)

In well attested Hadith, it is related that "It has been narrated on the authority of Anas that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him) wrote to Chosroes (King of Persia), Caesar (Emperor of Rome), Negus (King of Abyssinia) and every (other) despot inviting them to Allah, the Exalted. And this Negus was not the one for whom the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had said the funeral prayers." [Book 019, Number 4382]

On 11 May 2006 Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story reported an air strike on Iran could be doable in June 2006. "Two air-craft carriers are already en route to the region, RAW STORY has found. The USS Abraham Lincoln, which recently made a port call in Singapore, and the USS Enterprise which left Norfolk, Virginia earlier this month, are headed for the Western Pacific and Middle East. The USS Ronald Reagan is already operating in the Gulf."

On 16 May 2006 Ian Bruce of the The Herald reported that two options were under consideration for strikes using B2 bombers flying directly from bases in Missouri, Guam in the Pacific and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. One plan involved a five-day bombing campaign against 400 targets in Iran, including 24 nuclear-related sites, 14 military airfields and radar installations, and Revolutionary Guard headquarters. At least 75 targets in underground complexes would be attacked with bunker-buster bombs, while Iranian radar networks and air defence bases would be struck by submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, and then kept out of action by carrier aircraft flying from warships in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. The alternative to an all-out campaign is a demonstration strike against one or two high-profile targets such as the Natanz uranium enrichment facility or the hexafluoride gas plant at Isfahan.

On 26 August 2006 Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad opened a heavy-water plant intended to fuel a nuclear research reactor that is currently under construction. The ceremony took place at the Khondab plant near the city of Arak, some 200 kilometers southwest of Tehran. Ahmadinejad said that his country's controversial nuclear program poses no threat to any other country, even Israel, "which is a definite enemy." But he warned that the Iranian people would defend its rights to nuclear technology "with force." The reactor, which could produce plutonium for use in making nuclear weapons, is scheduled to be opened in 2009.

On 31 August 2006 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that Iran is continuing its uranium enrichment work in defiance of a Security Council demand. In a six-page report, IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei bluntly says "Iran has not suspended its enrichment activities". The IAEA findings place Iran in clear violation of an earlier Security Council order that set an August 31 deadline for suspending enrichment activities. It also opened the way for the Council to impose sanctions against the Tehran government.

On September 18, 2006, in a new report for The Century Foundation, Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner warned that some in the Bush administration are making the case for air strikes aimed not only at setting back Iran's nuclear program, but also at toppling the country's government. He said that these officials are undeterred by the concerns of military leaders about whether such attacks would be effective.

On 12 November 2006 Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran intended to install 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges by March 2007. Hosseini said Iran was doing all the work to install the centrifuges under control of the UN nuclear watchdog, adding that two cascades of 164 centrifuges were already in operation in the country.

Israel's deputy chief of General Staff told a conference of mayors on 08 December 2006 that Iran would have nuclear weapons "in the near future." Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky warned of the danger of the deepening alliance among Hizbullah, Syria, Iran and Hamas, saying that, "The deeper the connection between [them]. the more we need to worry." Kaplinsky said Syria was continuing to re-arm Hizbullah while both Hizbullah and Syria prepared for another round of warfare against Israel. Reports in Israeli media indicate that the army is anticipating the possibility of a resumption of the Lebanon war next summer.

On 18 December 2006 the head of Israel's Mossad intelligency agency sought to dispell the idea that it is too late to deter Iran from completing its nuclear development program. Speaking to a parliamentary committee, Meir Dagan said the concept of "a point of no return does not exist." He said the Iranians won't have a nuclear bomb before 2009, which left time for diplomacy to succeed.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously decided to impose a set of sanctions against Iran on 23 December 2006, in response to its uranium-enrichment activities, which Tehran said are for peaceful purposes but which other countries contend are driven by military ambitions. Unanimously adopting resolution 1737 (2006) under Article 41 of the Charter's Chapter VII, the Council decided that Iran should, without further delay, suspend the following proliferation sensitive nuclear activities: all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development; and work on all heavy-water related projects, including the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water. The adoption of the sanctions resolution - immediately rejected by Iran - came after successive reports by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based global nuclear watchdog, indicating its inability to certify that the country's motives are entirely peaceful. Agency Director-General Muhamad ElBaradei has said the IAEA is unable to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. The resolution contained a list of persons and entities involved with Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes that are subject to a freeze on their financial assets.

Iran vowed to push ahead with uranium enrichment despite the UN Security Council sanctions aimed at discouraging nuclear activities, with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad saying the sanctions will have "no impact" on the course of Tehran's nuclear program. President Ahmadinejad said that the sanctions would not prevent his country from developing its nuclear program. "I tell you, not only will your current action be harmless to Iran, but you will soon severely regret this [worthless] and very artificial act," he warned.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said work was to have started as early as 24 December 2006 to install 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges at the plant in Natanz. The deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saidi, said the planned installation of the centrifuges will go ahead under the surveillance of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).



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