U.S. Sizing Up Iran?

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#1
Report: U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran

Sun Jan 16,12:33 PM ET


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.


The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.

Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon (news - web sites) as saying, "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible."

One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker, "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq (news - web sites) is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign."

The White House said Iran is a concern and a threat that needs to be taken seriously. But it disputed the report by Hersh, who last year exposed the extent of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"We obviously have a concern about Iran. The whole world has a concern about Iran," Dan Bartlett, a top aide to President Bush (news - web sites), told CNN's "Late Edition."

Of The New Yorker report, he said: "I think it's riddled with inaccuracies, and I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact."

Bartlett said the administration "will continue to work through the diplomatic initiatives" to convince Iran -- which Bush once called part of an "axis of evil" -- not to pursue nuclear weapons.

"No president, at any juncture in history, has ever taken military options off the table," Bartlett added. "But what President Bush has shown is that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are underway right now."

COMMANDO TASK FORCE

Bush has warned Iran in recent weeks against meddling in Iraqi elections.

The former intelligence official told Hersh that an American commando task force in South Asia is working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists who had dealt with their Iranian counterparts.

The New Yorker reports that this task force, aided by information from Pakistan, has been penetrating into eastern Iran in a hunt for underground nuclear-weapons installations.

In exchange for this cooperation, the official told Hersh, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has received assurances that his government will not have to turn over Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, to face questioning about his role in selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea (news - web sites).

Hersh reported that Bush has already "signed a series of top-secret findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia."

Defining these as military rather than intelligence operations, Hersh reported, will enable the Bush administration to evade legal restrictions imposed on the CIA (news - web sites)'s covert activities overseas.
Source
 

Yithian

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#2
I had always assumed that the US will have spooks and special ops. operating in Iran, as, most probably, will the British. It would be odd if they didn't given the current political climate and the regional balance of powers.

(If nothing else they'll be 'dissauding' dissidents from border-hopping into Iraq: a violation which provides a fantastic cover for wider operations should beans be accidently spilt).

The interesting bit now, of course, is that if it's being reported widely as fact in the media then somebody somewhere has slipped up badly. It's a flagrant violation of the only imperative acknowledged by such bodies: The Eleventh Commandment.

Article concerned: http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?fact/050124fa_fact

Edit: Of course, there's a precedent for pre-emptive strikes against nuclear facilities in the region.. The Israelis did just this in their 1981 attack [Operation Opera] on the Osirak facility outside Baghdad (built with the assistance of our Gallic chums).

Edit2: Interestingly, the ensuing (strongly condemnatory) Security Council Resolution [487] was one of the few to criticise Israel and be signed by the US.
 

CuriousIdent

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#3
US special forces 'inside Iran'

From BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4180087.stm


US special forces 'inside Iran'

Iran says its military is prepared for a US strike on its nuclear sites
US commandos are operating inside Iran selecting sites for future air strikes, says the American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.
In the New Yorker magazine, Hersh says intelligence officials have revealed that Iran is the Bush administration's "next strategic target".

Hersh says that American special forces have conducted reconnaissance missions inside Iran for six months.

But the White House has described his article as "riddled with inaccuracies".

Potential targets include nuclear sites and missile installations, he says.

The New Yorker journalist adds that President Bush has authorised the operations, defining them as military to avoid legal restrictions on CIA covert intelligence activities overseas.

They constitute a revival of a form of covert US military activity used in the 1980s, notably in support of the Nicaraguan Contras.

'Working with Pakistan'

The task force has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan and leaving remote detection devices known as sniffers capable of testing for radioactive emissions in the atmosphere, Hersh says.

He reports as well that American special forces units have been authorised to conduct covert operations in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

He quotes one senior intelligence official as saying a force in Pakistan is working with scientists who have had dealings with Iranian colleagues.

But the price for co-operation, the official said, was a US assurance that Islamabad would not have to hand over AQ Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear programme who last year admitted to illegally transferring nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

'Riddled with inaccuracies'

Hersh bases his claims on anonymous sources, including former intelligence officials and consultants with links to the Pentagon.

One such consultant is quoted as saying that the civilians in the Pentagon wanted to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible.

There have also been calls from Pentagon hawks to use a limited attack on Iran to topple the country's religious leadership, one of Hersh's sources said.

The article has already drawn fire from the White House: the communications director, Dan Bartlett, called it "riddled with inaccuracies".

"I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact," Mr Bartlett added.

He said the diplomatic approach was still the priority.

"No president, at any juncture in history has ever taken military options off the table," he said. "But what President Bush has shown is that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are under way right now."

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that while Hersh could be wrong he has a series of scoops to his name, including the details of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal last year.

His track record suggests that he should be taken seriously, our correspondent says.
 

Vardoger

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#4
USA will always be able to attack with the airforce, but they doesn't have the capacity to use ground forces.
Just as I write this Iran is probably hiding their nuclear stuff before USA is able to attack.
 

rjmrjmrjm

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#6
The British have probably got SAS troops in most middle east countries and have probably had them there in one form or another from WW2.

Who do you think led the air-strikes on Baghdad on the first day?
 
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Anonymous

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#7
message to GW Bush.... fer f***k sake, finish trashing one place before you start on another!... (Afganistan is still simmering away... Iraq...not another bleeding one!)
 

Melf

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#8
Vardoger said:
USA will always be able to attack with the airforce, but they doesn't have the capacity to use ground forces.
Just as I write this Iran is probably hiding their nuclear stuff before USA is able to attack.
proberly in iraq ;)
 
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#9
And so it begins:

Iran nears nuclear 'point of no return'

Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Thursday January 27, 2005
The Guardian

The Israeli defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, warned yesterday that Iran will reach "the point of no return" within the next 12 months in its covert attempt to secure a nuclear weapons capability.

Tehran denies pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

Speaking in London before a meeting today with Tony Blair, Lieutenant General Mofaz said Iran was the main long-term threat to the world and stressed that it will not be permitted to build a nuclear bomb. "None of the western countries can live with Iran having a nuclear capability," he told reporters.

Gen Mofaz, a hawk in the Israeli cabinet, who has said in the past that Israel has operational plans in place for a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, refused to rule out military action.

Mr Blair, speaking in the Commons yesterday, said the Iranian issue was serious. Asked by a former Labour minister, Michael Meacher, to give an "unequivocal and categorical assurance" that Britain would not take part in any attack on Iran, Mr Blair said: "I know of no such contemplation by the United States of America."

In an interview with the Financial Times yesterday, Mr Blair refused to rule out the option of using military force.


With the US bogged down in the Iraq conflict, opening another front in Iran would be risky. Iran's Shebab-3 rockets are theoretically capable of hitting Israel.

The Israeli and US rhetoric has grown more strident in the last week and could be aimed at pushing Britain, France and Germany into taking a tougher diplomatic approach towards Iran.

The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, said last week that Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, as it did against Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.

Gen Mofaz indicated yesterday that he thought the US rather than Israel should do it: "It is the strongest power that can stop any nuclear power, especially in the hands of an extreme regime."

US officials have confirmed privately a report by the US reporter Seymour Hersh, in the New Yorker, that US special forces have already been in Iran scouting out its nuclear facilities.

Gen Mofaz, who was born in Iran but left for Israel while a child, said: "Iran is very close to the point of no return, which means the enrichment of uranium, and we believe that the leadership of the US, together with the European countries, should stop as soon as possible this military nuclear programme in Iran."

He added that this point of no return would be reached "in less than a year" and that it would only be "a matter of years" after that that it would assemble the bomb .

The Israeli intelligence assessment, shared by the US and Britain, is that Iran could have a bomb by 2007.

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, flew with his German and French counterparts to Tehran late in 2003 to broker a deal with Iran to suspend its enrichment programme. The deal broke down last year when the troika accused Iran of reneging on the deal. A new round of negotiations is under way and expected to drag on for at least a few months.

Like the US, which is equally sceptical, Israel is pushing for the issue to be referred to the United Nations for the imposition of sanctions and deep inspections by UN staff of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Gen Mofaz's comment about "point of no return" echoed a private briefing by Meir Dagan, the head of the Israeli overseas intelligence service, Mossad, to members of the Knesset on Monday. Mr Dagan said Mr Cheney's remark that Israel might make a pre-emptive strike was aimed at pressing Europe to adopt the tougher US approach towards Iran.

Britain, France and Germany have switched to a harder approach towards Iran. A confidential EU document leaked to Reuters and confirmed independently said the troika had told Iran it would be "unacceptable" for Tehran to keep its uranium enrichment programme, even if, as it claims, it is solely for civil purposes.

The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard ground forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said yesterday: "Iran will retaliate against any stupid moves by Israel."
Source

Thats no answer Mr Blair!!!

Expect the heat to be turned up even more when the current round of talks breaks down.

How will it play out? I suspect Israeli will attack first when the US doesn't prompting a reposnse my Iran and full engagement from the US immediately afterwards. Reasonable odds on nukes being used.
 

giantrobot1

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#10
Emperor said:
Thats no answer Mr Blair!!!
I was fascinated by the quote:

Asked by a former Labour minister, Michael Meacher, to give an "unequivocal and categorical assurance" that Britain would not take part in any attack on Iran, Mr Blair said: "I know of no such contemplation by the United States of America."
It seems he's forgotten which country he's meant to be in charge of. A very interesting way of answering, I think...
 

painy2

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#11
Blair hasnt forgotten at all, the royal mint is making dollar bills as we speak ;)
 

NilesCalder

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#12
Reminds me of recuring dreams, with a vague air of precognition, I have. Images on the TV of Tony Blair going out the same way a Mussolini, only in Westminster... :shock:
 

Bullseye

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#13
WMD ?. Do they expect to get away with that one again?. :roll: shout something long and loud enough,maybe they will
 
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#14
Bullseye said:
WMD ?. Do they expect to get away with that one again?. :roll: shout something long and loud enough,maybe they will
I can't see it happening anytime soon. Iraq and Afghanistan are going to keep people tied up for quite some time to come, and I can't see the aftermath of a new war in Iran being as easy as it has been in Iraq. (And that hasn't been exactly easy.) In addition, it would be the ideal opportunity for China to re-unify with certain "rogue components", and for a person by the name of Kim Il Sung to get up to mischief.
 

stu neville

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#15
Niles Calder said:
Reminds me of recuring dreams, with a vague air of precognition, I have. Images on the TV of Tony Blair going out the same way a Mussolini, only in Westminster... :shock:
[George Formby]"I'm hanging from a lamp-post at the corner of the street.."[/George Formby]

Iran would be a huge proposition - a much more unified populace than either Afghanistan or Iraq, about one and a half times the population of Afghanistan and Iraq combined, and with a military that's not been fending off allied airstrikes for 15 years.

Bets on the Statue of Liberty being blown up, and an Iranian passport in pristine condition being found at ground zero within five minutes?
 

OneWingedBird

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#16
Reminds me of recuring dreams, with a vague air of precognition, I have. Images on the TV of Tony Blair going out the same way a Mussolini, only in Westminster... Shocked
I'm still not sure which part of anatomy he was strung up by. My step-father always claimed it was his b*llocks, though it's possible he was talking them. Also heard it was his big toes.
 

sebastianp1

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#17
Musso - upside down

The photo I saw of the late (un)lamented Musso had him (and his mistress) hanging by the ankles.
 

boynamedsue

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#18
[quote="stu neville]Iran would be a huge proposition - a much more unified populace than either Afghanistan or Iraq, about one and a half times the population of Afghanistan and Iraq combined, and with a military that's not been fending off allied airstrikes for 15 years.

Bets on the Statue of Liberty being blown up, and an Iranian passport in pristine condition being found at ground zero within five minutes?[/quote]

Along with a post card from OBL stamped in Tehran. Post card will be written in badly spelt Arabic and and detail Al-Qaeda's opposition to drilling oil in national parks.
 

Mal_Adjusted

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#19
US jets 'flying over Iran to spot potential targets'

Greets

(as Stu's alread y done the george formby gag about mussolini (orig alexei sayle?) here's some "news" instead) (anyway wasn't it "I'm Lenin on a lamp post ...")

US jets 'flying over Iran to spot potential targets'

Julian Borger in Washington
Saturday January 29, 2005
The Guardian

The US is increasing the pressure on Iran by sending military planes into its airspace to test the country's defences and spot potential targets, according to an intelligence source in Washington.

The overflights have been reported in the Iranian press and the head of Iran's air force, Brigadier General Karim Qavami, declared recently that he had ordered his anti-aircraft batteries to shoot down any intruders, but there have been no reports of any Iranian missiles being launched.

"The idea is to get the Iranians to turn on their radar, to get an assessment of their air defences," an intelligence source in Washington said. He said the flights were part of the Pentagon's contingency planning for a possible attack on sites linked to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme.

"It make sense to get a look at their air defences, and it makes the mullahs nervous during the EU negotiations [over the suspension of Iranian uranium enrichment]," said John Pike, the head of GlobalSecurity.org, an independent military research group.

The flights come after reports of American special forces incursions into Iran. However, former US intelligence officials have said they believe the incursions are being carried out by Iranian rebels drawn from the anti-Tehran rebel group, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, under US supervision.

The US military denied the reports. "We're not flying over frigging Iran," an official said, suggesting Tehran was making up the incidents to attract international sympathy.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1401159,00.html

mal
 

EggSucker

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#20
Quote: "We're not flying over frigging Iran."

As soundbites go, that one's gotta be a world-beater. And this was from an official source?

Did he go on to say "and I'll pistol whip your bitch ass if you mention it again, you leftie pinko newswhore"?

:wtf:
 

Yithian

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#21
Jolly Jack said:
Quote: "We're not flying over frigging Iran."
Sensible USAF pilots will be thinking likewise. Iran is, as stated above, a very diferent proposition to Iraq & Afghanistan. I wouldn't much fancy a sightseeing trip above Tehran, stealth or no stealth.
 

Bullseye

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#22
"We're not flying over friggin Iran !",........Promote that official,that's priceless. :rofl:
 

J_Frank_Parnell

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#24
so condaleeeeeeeeeeeza rice says iran's off the agenda. hmm, politicians, hmm, what could that mean? er, so it's odds on they go in by may. glad i'm too old for the draft.

re the above few stiories: well, given the proven track record of their whizzed-off-their tits pilots (john simpson, those 9 brits who got it in gulf war 1 and those canadians in gulf war 2) i doubt they have a "friggin" clue where their flying.
 

Jerry_B

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#25
What suprises me is that it's now somehow become okay for one nation to say or imply the possibility that it will attack another, or favours regime change within it. No-one really seems to call this into question any more. No one seems to be asking if this is indeed something one nation has a right to do to another. I'm sure if Iran or some other country professed similar sentiments WRT it's foreign policy aims, there would be a furore.

In this particular situation, no-one seems to be adressing the question of a nuclear arms race in the region either - after all, it could be said that Iranian attempts to create a nuclear weapons capability is in response to Israel's possession of nuclear weapons. The assumption seems to be that Iran is doing it all out of sheer bloody mindedness.
 

Kondoru

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#26
They have my deepest sympathies then, Im permenently in that state.

<Homo Aves goes off to scowl at herself in her budgie mirror>
 

Bullseye

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#27
united fruitcake outlet said:
well, given the proven track record of their whizzed-off-their tits pilots (john simpson, those 9 brits who got it in gulf war 1 i doubt they have a "friggin" clue where their flying.
Apparently over MMFD !. 8)
 

Yithian

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#28
united fruitcake outlet said:
so condaleeeeeeeeeeeza rice says iran's off the agenda. hmm, politicians, hmm, what could that mean? er, so it's odds on they go in by may. glad i'm too old for the draft..
I confess, barbarians that we are, two friends and myself had a (suprisingly) lengthy discussion over the channel 4 news about whether it would be worse to bed Condoleezza Rice or Cherie Blair. [They featured in back-to-back stories i believe]

The loose conclusion was several drinks, paper bag and Mrs Blair, just to annoy Tony.

*Coat...*
 
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#29
And the war of words start - give it a few months and watch how the phrasing changes subtley each time:

Rice: Iran must halt nuclear program

Secretary of state says Iran could be referred to Security Council

Thursday, February 10, 2005 Posted: 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)


BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday that Iran must live up to its international obligations to halt its nuclear program or "the next steps are in the offing."

"And I think everybody understands what the 'next steps' mean," Rice told reporters after a meeting with NATO foreign ministers and European Union officials.

"It's obvious that if Iran cannot be brought to live up to its international obligations that, in fact, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) statutes would suggest that Iran has to be referred to the U.N. Security Council," she said.

Iran has refused to halt its nuclear program, saying it is only intended for peaceful energy production.

In recent months, negotiators from France, Britain and Germany have been trying to coax Iran to fully disclose the parameters of its nuclear program and abandon efforts to produce nuclear fuel in exchange for economic and political incentives.

"The message is there, the Iranians need to get that message, and we can certainly always remind them that there are other steps that the international community has at its disposal should they not be prepared to live up to these obligations," the secretary of state said.

She said that no timetable had been set.

"We continue to be in completely close consultation with the Europeans about how it is going, about whether progress is being made, about whether the Iranians seem to be moving toward living up to those obligations, and we'll just monitor and continue those discussions," she said.

In his state of the union address last week, President Bush singled out Iran as "the world's primary state sponsor of terror -- pursuing nuclear weapons," while depriving its people of freedom.

The administration made similar statements and threats in the run-up to its invasion of Iraq.

But Rice on Friday said that the question of using military force against the Tehran regime "is simply not on the agenda at this point in time."

'Time for diplomacy'

"We believe this is a time for diplomacy," the secretary said Wednesday, adding that human rights in Iran and Tehran's sponsoring of terror groups are also causes for concern.

"The message that we are giving to Iran: We do have diplomatic means at our disposal, we are doing this bilaterally as well as multilaterally, and I believe that a diplomatic solution is in our grasp, if we can have unity of purpose, unity of message with the Iranians and if the Iranians understand that the international community is quite serious about it living up to its obligations."

The IAEA has the authority to refer Iran to the Security Council, but the group's board of governors has refrained from doing so in seven meetings on the topic in the past two years.

Mark Gwozdecky, a spokesman for the IAEA, said the governors have reaffirmed their support for the inspection process at each meeting "as long as inspectors are making progress and not being obstructed, and as long as Iran appears to be cooperating."

The board next meets February 28, Gwozdecky said.
Source
 

Kondoru

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#30
Is it "Speak Softly but make sure everyone knows you have a Big Stick?"

And lets hope the Iranians take my mothers advice.
 
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