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FACTDROP: US Plans Set In Case Israel Strikes
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1/15/2012

US Plans Set In Case Israel Strikes



Πηγή: Arab Times
Jan 15 2012

IRAN CLAIMS EVIDENCE OF U.S. ROLE IN N-BRAIN HIT

WASHINGTON, Jan 14, (Agencies): The US government is concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran over US objections, and has stepped up contingency planning to safeguard US facilities in the region, The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

The newspaper said President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a series of private messages to Israeli leaders, warning about the dire consequences of a strike.
Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week, the report said.

The Journal noted that the US military was preparing for a number of possible responses to an Israeli strike, including assaults by pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq against the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Up to 15,000 US diplomats, federal employees and contractors still remain in Iraq.

To deter Iran, the United States is maintaining 15,000 troops in Kuwait, and has moved a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf area, the paper said.

Evidence

Iranian state television said on Saturday Tehran had evidence Washington was behind the latest assassination of one of its nuclear scientists.

In the fifth attack of its kind in two years, a magnetic bomb was attached to the door of 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan’s car during the Wednesday morning rush-hour in the capital. His driver was also killed.

The United States has denied involvement in the killing and condemned it. Israel has declined to comment.
“We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a letter handed to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, state TV reported.

“The documents clearly show that this terrorist act was carried out with the direct involvement of CIA-linked agents.”

The Swiss Embassy has represented US interests in Iran since Tehran and Washington cut diplomatic ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

State TV said a “letter of condemnation” had also been sent to the British government, saying the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists had “started exactly after the British official John Sawers declared the beginning of intelligence operations against Iran”.

In 2010, chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service Sawers said one of the agency’s roles was to investigate efforts by states to build nuclear weapons in violation of their international legal obligations and identify ways to slow down their access to vital materials and technology.

Tehran has urged the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to condemn the latest killing, which Tehran says is aimed at undermining its nuclear work, which the West and Israel say is aimed at building bombs. Tehran says its nuclear programme is purely civilian.

Action

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the “whole world” would take action if Iran closed the strategic Strait of Hormuz, in a television interview during a visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

“It is in the interests of the whole world that those straits are open and, if there was any threat to close them, I am sure the whole world would come together and make sure they stayed open,” Cameron told Al-Arabiya television.

Cameron’s first visit as premier to OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia comes as Western governments move to step up sanctions over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, threatening an embargo on its oil exports.

The move has drawn an angry response from Tehran which has in turn threatened to shut the strait — a chokepoint for a fifth of the world’s sea-borne oil exports — if it is attacked or heavy sanctions are imposed.

The New York Times reported late on Thursday that the United States has used a secret channel to warn Iran’s leaders against closing the Strait of Hormuz, saying that doing so would provoke a US response.

Cameron also called for a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, where the United Nations estimates an uprising has left more than 5,000 dead since March in a crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“We stand ready as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to take a fresh resolution to that Council, based on what the Arab League is doing and saying,” the prime minister said.

He said any party which vetoed, in apparent reference to Russia, would have to “try to explain why they are willing to stand by and watch such appalling bloodshed by someone who has turned into such an appalling dictator.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who was in Lebanon on Friday, made a similar appeal, urging the international community to stand together to address the crisis in Syria.

Hostile

Small Iranian military motorboats approached US vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz twice last week but the Pentagon said the interactions were not seen as hostile, even at a moment of heightened tensions between the two countries.

Video released by the Pentagon showed the armed boats with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ navy approaching within several hundred yards (metres) of the USS New Orleans, an amphibious transport ship, on Jan. 6, a US military official said.

The same day, a similar incident occurred with the US Coast Guard cutter Adak, with the Iranian boats seen riding in its wake, guns visible.

“This interaction between US naval vessels and the Iranian vessels is commonplace,” said Captain Jane Campbell, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “There is nothing in these that shows any kind of hostile intent.”
US officials say it is routine to take video of such incidents and the US military decided to release imagery at the request of news organizations.

Nine American vessels have passed through the strait since the start of the year. It was not immediately clear whether any of the other seven had been approached in this manner by Iranian vessels.

The approaches come at a time of concern about the possibility of a clash between the United States and Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil shipping lane.

Tehran has threatened to close the strait if new US and EU sanctions over its nuclear program cut off Iranian oil exports. Iran has also threatened action if another US carrier moves into the Gulf.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that closure of the strategic waterway would be seen as a red line by the United States and would require a response.

The Pentagon also sought on Friday to discourage speculation the US military was quietly building up its forces in the region to counter any perceived threat.



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