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Purveyor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-07-08 12:42 PM
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The Iran Hawks' Latest Surge
U.S. and Israeli hard-liners -- some with close ties to John McCain -- are once again hyping the Iranian nuclear threat.

By Gregory Levey

March 7, 2008 | Recently, I asked former Mossad officer Michael Ross what he thought of the latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released in December, which downplayed the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program. "That farce?" he replied, adding that many in Israeli intelligence were "furious about it -- not just the conclusion of the estimate, but its timing as well." Some Iran hawks believe that the United Nations Security Council was poised at the time, with the United States leading the charge, to tighten the vice on the Iranian regime with tough new sanctions. But in the wake of the NIE's disclosure, there was a powerful shift in world opinion about Iran's alleged nuclear program, and the momentum was apparently lost.

Ross operated covertly inside Iran in the early 1990s, spying on the Iranian nuclear program for Israel, and worked closely with U.S. intelligence agencies, before retiring in 2001. His view of the NIE, which concluded that Iran had halted the weapons development aspect of its nuclear program in 2003, is similar to views held by hawkish intelligence officials and policy thinkers in the U.S. and Israel. On the Iranian issue in particular, there has long been a close relationship between the Israeli and U.S. governments, and the NIE's disclosure set off a flurry of activity in both countries. It had put hawks in an extraordinary position: If they wanted to keep up the pressure to go after Iran -- using diplomacy and sanctions, or perhaps military force if deemed necessary -- they would now have to discredit the highest-level intelligence report produced by the United States.

In Jerusalem, top Israeli leaders convened a meeting to decide how to deal with the problem. One result of the meeting was that when President Bush visited Israel in January, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was tasked with briefing him on Israeli intelligence on Iran, allegedly including some new information, in order to convince Bush to continue applying maximum pressure on Iran. "It's apparently true that in 2003 Iran stopped pursuing its military nuclear program for a time," Barak said then, "but in our opinion, since then it has apparently continued that program."

Meanwhile, in Washington, various interest groups with hard-line views on Iran and the Middle East have been working vigorously to refocus U.S. and world attention on Iran as an imminent threat. They include Evangelical Christians and conservative Jewish lobbyists -- some with close ties to John McCain. The founder of one influential Evangelical group, who has made aggressive calls for attacking Iran, just endorsed McCain's run for the White House.

With McCain the presumptive Republican nominee, national security and instability in the Middle East are certain to return to the spotlight in the general campaign, as many McCain supporters believe those issues play to his strengths. The director of foreign policy for McCain's campaign said in an interview Wednesday that McCain remains "skeptical" of the latest NIE's findings, and outlined McCain's views on Iran in terms similar to those of some hawkish lobbyists working behind the scenes in Washington.

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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-07-08 01:26 PM
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1. Pitiful. All smoke and mirrors. Pakistan can be believed, Iran can't.
WHile not in court, Cheney's name comes up over and over with AQ Khan as selling nuclear tehnology and components to...... Iran, North Korea. Cutting off the banking lines? The trade must be using donkeys for the money transfers.

Ah, if we could only see the money pipe lines.
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