by Jim Meyers for Newsmax
Contrary to some claims that the Bush administration will allow diplomacy to handle Iran’s nuclear weapons program, a leading member of America’s Jewish community tells Newsmax that a military strike is not only on the table – but likely. (note: does anyone else wonder why this “leading member of America’s Jewish community” would have such advanced warning, or is it just me? VS)
“Israel is preparing for heavy casualties,” the source said, suggesting that although Israel will not take part in the strike, it is expecting to be the target of Iranian retribution.(note: that makes sense, hence the recent maneuvers and civil defense exercises in Israel, VS)
“Look at Dick Cheney’s recent trip through the Middle East as preparation for the U.S. attack,” the source said.
Cheney’s hastily arranged 9-day visit to the region, which began on March 16, included stops in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Turkey, and the Palestinian territories.
Tensions in the region have been rising.
While Israel was conducting the largest homefront military exercises in its history last week, Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned Tehran about expected attacks on the Jewish state.
“An Iranian attack will prompt a severe reaction from Israel, which will destroy the Iranian nation,” he said. (Note: there is nothing in Israel’s conventional arsenal which could even approach that kind of level of destruction; so the guy is talking about nukes. VS)
He predicted that in a future war, “hundreds of missiles will rain on Israel,” but added that Iran “is definitely aware of our strength.”
In addition to long-range missiles Iran has been developing to strike Israel, Israel’s military strategists see the Iranians using terror groups they back like Hamas operating from Palestine and Hezbollah from Lebanon to launch attacks.
Iran has supplied Hezbollah with an arsenal that now contains “tens of thousands of missiles,” according to the Washington Post.
Israel’s recent war exercises, including preparations for chemical and biological weapons attacks, drew a sharp response from Syria which held its own military drills. The Syrian government accused Israel of preparing for a war which Damascus predicted would be begin anytime between May 1 and the end of June.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently told foreign journalists that Israel needs to confront the threat posed by Iran. Privately he has been telling associates his number one priority is have the Israeli military strike Iran if the U.S. is unwilling.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz disclosed that Israel is concerned that North Korea has transferred technology and nuclear materials to Iran to aid Tehran’s secret nuclear weapons program.
Iran remains intransigent to international pressure that it offer full transparency relating to its nuclear program. On Sunday the head of Iran’s nuclear program “abruptly canceled a meeting with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, dealing a blow to the U.N. monitor’s efforts to investigate allegations that Iran tried to make nuclear arms, an agency official said,” according to an AP report.
“But a senior diplomat had told the AP that IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] head Mohamed ElBaradei likely planned to use the meeting with Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s nuclear program, to renew a request for more information on allegations Tehran had tried to make atomic arms.”
A number of signs indicate that, contrary to the belief President Bush is a lame duck who will not act before he leaves office, the U.S. is poised to strike before Iran can acquire nuclear weapons and carry out the threat of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to “wipe Israel off the map”: (Note: of course, Ahmadinejad never said any such thing. VS)
# According to intelligence sources, the administration now rejects the National Intelligence Estimate report issued in December that asserted Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in late 2003.
The French daily Le Monde reported in March that newly surfaced documents show that Iran has continued developing nuclear weapons. In late 2006, U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted a phone conversation in Iran’s Defense Ministry in which the nuclear weapons program was discussed.
# The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, resigned in March amid media reports that he broke with President Bush’s strategy on Iran and did not want to be in the chain of command when the order comes down from the President to launch a strike on the Islamic Republic.
Democrats suggested he had been forced out because of his candor in opposing Bush’s Iran plans, and Esquire magazine contended that Fallon’s departure signaled that the U.S. is preparing to attack Iran.
# According to a Tehran-based Iranian news network, Press TV, Saudi Arabia is taking emergency steps in preparing to counter any “radioactive hazards” that may result from an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Saudi newspaper Okaz disclosed that the Saudi government has approved nuclear fallout preparations, and the Iranian network reported that the approval came a day after Cheney met with the kingdom’s high-ranking officials, further stating that the U.S. “is now informing its Arab allies of a potential war.”
# The American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has stepped up criticism of Iran, telling Congress last week that Iranian support for Shiite militias posed the most serious threat to Iraq’s stability. He told senators : “Iran has fueled the violence in a particularly damaging way.” Last week, the U.S. said Iran was providing insurgents with missiles that were killing Americans and hitting targets within the U.S. occupied Green Zone in Baghdad.
MSNBC Commentator Pat Buchanan said Petraeus’ remarks to Congress lay the groundwork for a U.S. attack on Iran.
# President Bush said in a speech at the White House on April 10 that Iran, along with al-Qaida, are “two of the greatest threats to America.”
He said Iran “can live in peace with its neighbors,” or “continue to arm and train and fund illegal militant groups which are terrorizing the Iraqi people … If Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests and our troops and our Iraqi partners.”
He later told ABC News that if Iran continues to help militants in Iraq, “then we’ll deal with them.”
Members of Congress are said to have been briefed by the administration about the rising Iran threat.
Iran did little to cool tensions when it announced that it had begun installing 6,000 new centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.
Centrifuges can enrich uranium to a low level to produce nuclear fuel or a high level for use in weapons.
The announcement of the new centrifuges by President Ahmadinejad came on April 8, Iran’s National Day of Nuclear Technology, which marked the second anniversary of Iran’s first enrichment of uranium.
Iran already has about 3,000 centrifuges operating in Natanz, and the new announcement was widely seen as a show of defiance to international demands to halt a nuclear program that the U.S. and its allies insist is aimed at building nuclear weapons.