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Posts Tagged ‘ Leon Panetta ’

  • 11 February 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

Iran’s nuclear missile threat: Perceived or Real?

A recent article published in the Roll Call newspaper sharply ratchets up the frenzy over Iran’s purported nuclear missile threat to make the case against looming cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. The author of the piece, retired Navy commander James Lyons, argues that the U.S. is vulnerable to an Iranian nuclear missile attack and urgently needs to upgrade its missile defense systems to defend against this supposed threat. “Iran has already tested intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by using them to send satellites into space”, the author explains, and will have a nuclear weapon tipped ICBM “that could reach American shores in just three years or less.”

Fortunately for the U.S. budget, Iran is far from having such capabilities. The fact is that Iran has not even made a decision to build a nuclear weapon. This is corroborated by the IAEA and the U.S. and other intelligence agencies – who would also be able to detect a sudden effort by the Iranians to start building the bomb. Even if Iran were to start building a nuclear weapon today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has stated that it would take two to five years for Iran to have a weapon and delivery vehicle.

In the hypothetical scenario where Iran chooses to start building the bomb and manages to complete one in a few years time, Iran still will not have the capability to reach the United States with such a weapon. The author’s claim that Iran has “already tested intercontinental ballistic missiles by using them to send satellites into space” is directly disputed by a recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which states that it “seems clear that Iran has a dedicated space launch effort and it is not simply a cover for ICBM development.” This report additionally states that “it is increasingly uncertain whether Iran will be able to achieve ICBM capability by 2015” and that “Iran has not demonstrated the kind of flight test program many view as necessary to produce an ICBM.”

The United States undeniably faces real security challenges in the world, but a nuclear missile threat from Iran is simply not one of them. Iran is long way from posing any such threat to the United States, and to spend tax dollars on this largely imaginary threat would the ultimate exercise in squandering wealth.

  • 1 August 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: August 1, 2012

Netanyahu Challenges Credibility of US Threat Against Iran

Speaking next to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program.”  Panetta responded by reiterating that “If they make the decision to proceed with a nuclear weapon…we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure that that does not happen,” (Reuters 8/1).

Beijing “Furious” Over Sanctions on Chinese Bank

Beijing has reacted furiously to new US sanctions imposed on a Chinese bank, Bank of Kunlun, over transactions with Iran, and urged the US to revoke the “groundless” sanctions, saying the sanctions violated “norms of international relations” (AP 8/1).

Iran, OPEC Oil Production Falls

  • 31 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 31, 2012

Obama Authorizes New Iran Sanctions

President Obama authorized new sanctions against banks that facilitate the sale of petrochemical products by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Naftiran Intertrade Company (NIC). Additionally, the President imposed sanctions on the Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq for processing transactions for sanctioned Iranian banks (Reuters 7/31; The White House 7/31).

US Lawmakers Push for More Sanctions on Iran

US lawmakers in favor of new sanctions have reached an agreement, and the new legislation is expected to be voted on in the House as early as Wednesday. As explained by the Senate Banking Committee, “The bill aims to prevent Iran from repatriating any of the revenue it receives from the sale of its crude oil, depriving Iran of hard currency earnings and funds to run its state budget.” (AP 7/30; Senate Banking 7/30).

Iraq Says It Will Force MEK Out of Paramilitary Base

Iraq has told the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), a US-designated terrorist organization, that they must move out of Camp Ashraf, or be forced to leave. Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayadh said at a conference that, “Now we are free to implement the mechanisms required to transfer those who live in (Camp Ashraf) to where we find appropriate.” Iraq said it will observe a grace period of “a few days” to allow for a solution to the impasse, which arose when the MEK stopped cooperating with efforts to relocate the group’s members (Reuters 7/31).

Persian Gulf States Expand Arms Purchases

  • 30 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 30, 2012

Aide Says Romney Would Endorse Israeli Strike

Speaking in Jerusalem, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capability is America’s “solemn duty and a moral imperative”. Romney’s aide, Dan Senor, previewed the speech for reporters, saying that “if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision.” However, Romney apparently stepping back from his aide’s comment, saying only “We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself,” (Huffington Post 7/29).

Senor, the aide, also endorsed a lower threshold for attacking Iran, saying:

It is not enough just to stop Iran from developing a nuclear program. The capability, even if that capability is short of weaponization, is a pathway to weaponization, and the capability gives Iran the power it needs to wreak havoc in the region and around the world.

(Think Progress 7/29)

Israeli Official Denies Obama Advisor Briefed Netanyahu on Iran Contingency Plans

On Sunday, Haaretz reported National Security Advisor Tom Donilon briefed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on US contingency plans for an attack on Iran during a three-hour dinner, sharing information on US weaponry and military capabilities. A senior Israeli official denied the report saying, “Nothing in the article is correct,” (Reuters 7/30; Haaretz 7/29).

  • 18 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 18, 2012

Netanyahu Blames Iran for Fatal Terrorist Attack in Bulgaria; Vows Retaliation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for a fatal terror attack in Bulgaria, saying “Iran is responsible for the terror attack in Bulgaria, we will have a strong response against Iranian terror.”

Panetta: U.S. Would Hold Iran “Directly Responsible” for any Hormuz Disruption

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday of a potential Iranian obstruction to the Strait of Hormuz, “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region, by Iran or for that matter by its surrogate.” He added, “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat, if they make a decision to do that” (Reuters 7/18).

IRGC Official: Sanctions Aimed at Fomenting Regime Change

A senior official of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Ali Ashraf Nouri, has said the U.S. sanctions strategy is designed to “break people’s tolerance threshold and force them [to take to the streets] like during the 2009 sedition” (Radio Free Liberty Radio Europe 7/17).

Iran Condemns Assassination of Syrian Defense Minister

  • 11 June 2012
  • Posted By Roshan Alemi
  • 0 Comments
  • US-Iran War

Panetta Says It Would Take Iran 2-3 Years to Build Nuke

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described how close he believes Iran is to building nuclear weapons in an in-depth interview that aired over the weekend on CBS’s “60 minutes.”

“The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon,” Panetta explained. This means that, were Iran to decide to construct a nuclear weapon, it would take up to three years to actually build one given current capabilities. The clock would not begin until Iran made such a decision.

Panetta and other officials have been clear that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon and has called for continued diplomacy, as well as economic pressure, in order to ensure that Iran never chooses to weaponize. Panetta’s time frame for Iran’s ability to weaponize further illuminates the disconnect between what war hawks in Congress are saying and how experts are describing Iran’s nuclear threat.

  • 19 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/19

U.S. proposes a direct line of communication with Iran 

A  a conservative Iranian lawmaker, Ali Motahari, claims that the U.S. has sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader proposing direct talks. The Obama administration has denied the claim. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast claims that the proposal for direct talks was embedded in the U.S. letter warning Iran against closing the Strait of Hormuz (ABC 01/18).  

CNN reports that the United States has suggested creating a direct line of communication with Iran in order to prevent any escalating miscalculations between the two countries (CNN 01/18).

Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, at a joint news conference with Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Turkey is prepared to host nuclear talks between Iran and Western countries. He urged for negotiations to begin immediately (Washington Post 01/19).

U.S. crafting new “confidence building measure” with Iran

The U.S. is crafting a new diplomatic proposal that would require Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20% and to give up its existing stockpile of 20% uranium  (Yahoo News 01/18).

EU set to approve central bank and oil sanctions

EU foreign ministers are expected to agree on an oil embargo against Iran and a freeze on the assets of its central bank at a meeting scheduled for Monday, according to French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (Reuters 01/19). 

The director general of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said that the U.N. would press for full Iranian cooperation in meetings with Iranian officials. An IAEA delegation is set to seek explanations about allegations regarding Iran’s nuclear program (Reuters 01/19).

Meanwhile, Deputy House Whip Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), returning from a trip to the U.S.’s Gulf allies, said there is widespread concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and support for sanctions, but great reservation and worry about a possible military attack against Iran (Think Progress 01/18).

Japan, China statements on Iran oil

China’s premier Wen Jiabao, at a press conference in Qatar, defended their oil trade with Iran while warning against Iran developing and acquiring a nuclear weapon (The Guardian 01/19). Meanwhile, Japan has said that it is likely to reduce Iranian crude purchases over the next three months (Reuters 01/19).

Former Revolutionary Guard commander criticizes Iranian government

A high-ranking former Iranian commander, Retired Rear Adm. Hossein Alaei, has sparked protest and anger in Iran for publishing a letter perceived to be critical of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. In the letter, Alaei implicitly compared the recent government crackdowns on the opposition to the repression during the time of the shah. Alaei publicly expressed regret for having written the letter after angry mobs, supporters of Khamenei, attacked his home (Washington Post 01/18).

Notable opinion: 

In a Politico op-ed, author and journalist Hooman Majd discusses the 5 main U.S. misconceptions about Iran:

Top five, 10 or 100 lists are standard at the end of the year. Though the Iranian year doesn’t end for roughly two months, given the escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, with threats and counter threats over the Strait of Hormuz — to say nothing of most GOP presidential candidates’ views on what to do about Iran — it might be useful to compile one on the growing Iran crisis, early 2012 here and late 1390 there.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

Three prominent journalists have been arrested in Iran ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections.

The New York Times reports that Iran’s currency fell to its lowest level ever against the dollar on Wednesday.

Nato’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has urged Iran to keep the Strait of Hormuz open.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar, during a trip to Turkey, warned Arab states against aligning themselves too closely with the United States.

  • 9 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/09

Defense Secretary Panetta: Iran seeking nuclear latency, not nuclear weapon

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on Face the Nation and said of Iran, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon.”  (Transcript: CBS Face the Nation 01/08(Think Progress 01/08).

Iran announces future enrichment at underground site as talks loom

On Friday, diplomats in Vienna said Iran has taken steps in preparation for uranium enrichment at the Fordo site. According to one diplomat, Iran began feeding uranium gas into centrifuges as part of preparations for enrichment (Reuters 01/06).

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Iran and international powers have in principle agreed to resume talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Turkey. Additionally, Feireidoun Abbasi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said that Tehran has shown a new generation of centrifuges to the IAEA (Fars News Agency 01/08).

Iran News Roundup 11/18

Central Bank sanctions being pushed by Congress
Minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation on behalf of Sen. Mark Kirk that would sanction the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) in an attempt to “collapse” the Iranian economy (The Hill 11/17).  In the House, a letter with bipartisan support, signed by House leadership and Foreign Affairs Committee leaders from both parties, was sent to the president pressing him to take action on the CBI (Read letter here).

Yet, while there may be support for CBI sanctions on the Hill, according to a USA Today piece by Oren Dorell, sanctions do not harm the Iranian government as much as they hurt the Iranian middle class.  As NIAC president Trita Parsi says in the article, sanctions actually benefit the Revolutionary Guard as they increase the profitability of smuggling, which the Revolutionary Guard has a virtual monopoly on (USA Today 11/17).  This message was echoed at a recent IISS event, where “panelists agreed that while sanctions produce social consequences, they will not achieve the political aim of ending the Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions” (Lobelog 11/17).  An Inner Press Service article spotlights economic concerns for Iran sanctions, pointing out that Obama administration officials worry that targeting Iranian oil, which is a primary driver for the world economy, could seriously harm Europe’s struggling economy and the U.S.’s tentative economic recovery (Inner Press Service 11/17).

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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