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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: On Course for Iran

Council on Foreign Relations

January 16, 2007
Prepared by: Michael Moran

Nearly a week since President Bush’s vow to “surge” U.S. forces into Baghdad, a surge of a different kind got underway in the direction of Iran. The carrier Stennis (NYT) and its battle group will join the USS Eisenhower and its escorts in the Arabian Sea by early February. Britain, too, has added naval forces (The Australian).

Bush’s otherwise Iraq-centric speech included explicit threats directed at Iran and Syria, accusing them of “allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory” and vowing to “destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.” Asked for clarifications, administration officials say nothing is imminent, but nothing is ruled out, either. Is the administration planning to, as one op-ed writer put it, “exit Iraq through Iran?” (BosGlobe) Last week’s detention by U.S. forces of six alleged Iranian gunrunners (AP) at Tehran’s consulate in Irbil angered not only Tehran but the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, which appears eager to cultivate good relations with Iran (LAT).

Still, ambiguity remains the byword. All Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would really tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week on the topic is that nothing is off the table. Her appearance included a telling exchange with Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), the panel’s chairman, in which Biden asserted the 2002 congressional authorization for war with Iraq would not cover (Haaretz) expanding the war to Iran. “I just want to set that marker,” Biden added. Not surprisingly, Rice declined to commit to that analysis.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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