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THE ISSUES

Originally Published: 2/1/2007

IRAN: MAKING A CASE TO ATTACK

By The Issue Wonk

 

This timeline is an on-going process. While I found many references in various places to certain events, if there was no source or document from which the information was taken, I did not use it. With regard to statements, it would be impossible to list all of the statements that have been and are still being made the White House and supporters of the Bush administration.

 

Updated 2/3/07 – Updates in Red

 

1996:  A 1996 policy paper entitled “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” is published. It is purportedly prepared by a task force that includes Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser, among others, under the supervision of now Vice President Dick Cheney. It outlines a scenario whereby the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would be torn to shreds, and, first Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah, and Iran, would be targeted for military assault and political destabilization. The paper appears to be the predecessor to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). [Note: After many years of being available, the PNAC website has been taken down.]

 

September, 2000:  PNAC issues “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” Members include Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Richard Armitage. It says, “We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. (See January 29, 2002 below for Bush’s naming North Korea, Iran and Iraq as the “axis of evil” is his State of the Union Address.)

 

December 9, 2001:  Michael Ledeen, a leading figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal and in 2001 a consultant for the Defense Department, along with Pentagon employees Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, met in Rome with Iran Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar and other Iranians. Ghorbanifar said one of the items of discussion was regime change in Iran. (Newsweek)

 

Early 2002:  Michael Ledeen and Morris Amitay form the Coalition for Democracy in Iran which is supported by James Woolsey (former CIA director) and Frank Gaffney, among others. (Third World Traveler)

 

January 29, 2002:  In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush labels North Korea, Iraq, and Iran as the “axis of evil.” (White House) (See September, 2000 above.)

 

February 22, 2002:  Time Magazine reports that Iran may have been helping Taliban and al-Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan. Iran denies it. (CNN)

 

February 26, 2002:  Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson goes to Niger. According to a 2004 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report (page 44): “The intelligence report also said that Niger’s former Minister for Energy and Mines [redacted], Mai Manga, stated that there were no sales outside of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) channels since the mid-1980s. He knew of no contracts signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of uranium.”

 

August, 2002:  Condoleezza Rice, then National Security Advisor, and Stephen Hadley, then Deputy National Security Advisor, are aware that the FBI was carrying out a counterintelligence investigation the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). (Washington Post)

 

August, 2002:  The National Council of Resistance of Iran, which considers itself an Iranian government in exile, of which the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) is the dominant member, held a press conference and stated that Iran had a secret nuclear facility at Natanz, due for completion in 2003. (See National Council of Resistance of Iran v. Department of State and Colin L. Powell, Secretary of State.) (See also Global Security.) (NOTE: The Secretary of State designated the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and again in 2001 pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. See Secretary of State.)

 

August 5, 2002:  Steve Rosen of AIPAC asks a DoD employee (possibly Douglas Feith, then Undersecretary of Defense Policy, or Harold Rhode) for the name of someone with expertise on Iran and is directed to Larry Franklin. (See Franklin, Rosen & Weissman  Indictment.)

 

August 15, 2002:  Larry Franklin begins a series of meetings with Naor Gilon, then political officer at the Israeli Embassy. (See Franklin, Rosen & Weissman Indictment.)

 

October, 2002-January, 2003:  Iran conducts uranium enrichment experiments. (NOTE: This is not a nuclear weapons program.) (Global Security)

 

2003:  According to Lawrence Wilkerson, then Secretary of State Colin Powell's aide, in 2003 Iran offered to help the U.S. stabilize Iraq and end its military support for Hezbollah and Hamas. “We thought it was a very propitious moment” to strike a deal. However, Cheney vetoed it. Iran also offered to increase the transparency of its nuclear program. (AP)

 

February 10, 2003:  Iran acknowledges that it is building a nuclear energy facility at Natanz as part of a nuclear energy program. (Global Security)

 

February 12, 2003:  Larry Franklin and DoD employee “B” meet with Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC for the first of a series of meetings concerning U.S. policy towards Iran. (See Franklin, Rosen & Weissman Indictment.)

 

February 21, 2003:  IAEA inspectors, including Mohamed ElBaradei, visit Iran. They find that the design of the centrifuges is of Pakistani origin. Pakistan is an ally of the United States in the War on Terror. (Global Security)

 

February 24, 2003:  Analyst Yossef Bodansky states: “The Iranian clerical leaders have decided to actively undermine the U.S. ability to consolidate a post-Saddam government in Baghdad. Iran has already begun implementing this policy, deploying proxy Shi’ite forces into Iraqi Kurdistan and modifying the deployment of Iran’s own Armed Forces.” (Global Information System)

 

March 7, 2003:  Representative Curt Weldon (R, PA) first hears about “Ali” (former Iranian minister Fereidoun Mahdavi), an associate of Manucher Ghorbanifar. Some have suggested that the introductions are made via Michael Ledeen, although Ledeen and Weldon’s spokesperson have both denied the allegations. (The American Prospect)

 

March 20, 2003:  Invasion of Iraq.

 

April 15, 2003:  The U.S. Army permits the MEK in Iraq to keep their weapons. (Raw Story) (NOTE: MEK is still officially considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. See August, 2002 above.)

 

April 25, 2003:  Representative Weldon meets with “Ali” in Paris. “Ali” claims that Iranian intelligence had stolen enriched uranium from Iraq prior to the start of the war, smuggling it into Iran. The CIA determines this to be untrue. Michael Ledeen has recounted a similar story which he also passed along to U.S. Intelligence. He denies that Manucher Ghorbanifar is his source. (Raw Story)

 

April 30, 2003:  Michael Ledeen tells The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) Policy Forum it’s time to focus on Iran. (JINSA)

 

May 6, 2003:  A forum on “The Future of Iran” is held, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, Hudson Institute, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and chaired by Meyrav Wurmser, wife of David Wurmser, the Middle East Advisor to VP Cheney. (American Enterprise Institute)

 

May 10, 2003:  The MEK accept a formal cease-fire and are placed under a type of protective custody by U.S. special forces in Iraq. (Global Security)

 

May 12, 2003:  William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, calls for regime change in Iran. (Weekly Standard)

 

May 16, 2003:  U.S. officials claim the May 12th bombings in Saudi Arabia were carried out by al-Qaeda operatives who have taken refuge in Iran. (CBS)

 

May 17, 2003:  The Forward reports that “neocons” and “warhawks” in the administration have convinced Bush, Cheney, and the Pentagon of the need for regime change in Iran. The State Department is opposed. It also states that the Office of Special Plans (OSP) is now gathering intelligence on Iran. (Information Clearing House)

 

May 20, 2003:  Daniel Pipes, on his blog, promotes support for the MEK.

 

June 3, 2003:  Larry Franklin and Naor Gilon meet to discuss a person (who may be Judith Miller) about her thoughts on Iran’s nuclear program and certain charity efforts, which may refer to Miller’s work with Harold Rhode and Ahmed Chalabi (Interim oil minister in Iraq, deputy prime minister in Iraq, and wanted for massive bank fraud in Jordan) on the Iraqi Jewish Archive. (See Franklin, Rose & Weissman Indictment.) (See also Counterpunch article on Chalabi.)

 

June 23, 2003:  Harold Rhode and Manucher Ghorbanifar meet in Paris. According to the Jerusalem Post, the purpose of the meeting was to undermine any deal for Iran to hand over several high-ranking al-Qaeda members in exchange for the U.S. either handing over MEK members and/or cutting off its support of MEK. The intent is to worsen U.S.-Iran relations. (See Juan Cole’s Informed Comment and Washington Monthly.

 

June 15, 2003:  Bush endorses pro-democracy student demonstrations in Iran that have been going on for the previous 5 days. (PBS)

 

June 16, 2003:  ElBaradei calls on Iran to allow more intrusive inspections. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and accuses the U.S. of stirring up the IAEA. (PBS)

 

June 17, 2003:  French police arrest 165 MEK members at their headquarters near Paris.  At the same time the Iranian student demonstrations are still going on and there is still a conflict between the Pentagon and the State Department over whether to form an alliance with MEK against the Iranian government. (Eurasianet)

 

July 6, 2003:  The New York Times publishes an article by Joseph Wilson entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” (Common Dreams)

 

July 10-13, 2003:  The IAEA holds technical discussions with Iran and asks for full transparency. (Global Security)

 

July 14, 2003:  Robert Novak writes an article naming Valerie Plame as Joseph Wilson’s wife and as a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction. (Larisa Alexandrovna wrote an article for Raw Story on February 13, 2006, stating that “current and former intelligence officials” stated that Plame worked “on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer” and “was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran. . . Their accounts suggest that Plame’s outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program.” The allegations were repeated again by David Shuster, an MSNBC correspondent, appearing on Chris Matthews’ Hardball on May 1, 2006.

 

July, 2003:  Israel warns the U.S. of a heightened insurgency to come in Iraq with support from Iran, but the U.S. rejects Israel’s urging to seal the border. When the insurgency explodes in early August, the Israelis conclude the U.S. is unwilling to confront Iran. (New Yorker)

 

July 28, 2003:  Iran is reported to be holding several top al-Qaeda members. (Christian Science Monitor)

 

August 9-12, 2003:  IAEA team of technical experts are in Iran to inspect nuclear sites. (Global Security)

 

August 15, 2003:  Secretary of State Colin Powell lists the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCR) as an alias of MEK.  The State Department still considers this a terrorist organization, ordering its U.S. offices closed and its assets frozen. (State Department) The NCR says that this is part of the negotiations for Iran to turn over al-Qaeda operatives under its control and allow IAEA to inspect its nuclear sites. (AP)

 

August 26, 2003:  IAEA reports it has found particles of highly enriched uranium at Natanz. Iran says the particles must have come in with the imported centrifuges.  This is later confirmed by tests. (Global Security)

 

October 4, 2003:  Robert Novak writes a column outing Brewster Jennings, Valerie Plame’s front company at the CIA. Brewster Jennings was involved in tracking nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. (Raw Story)

 

October, 2003:  Reports emerge of Dr. A. Q. Khan’s dealings with Iran. Khan is a notorious black market dealer of nuclear weapon components and designs and is considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Brewster Jennings was tracking the Khan network as well as creating obstacles for Iranian development of WMD from the products purchased on the black market. (eJournal)

 

October 21, 2003:  Iran agrees to accept tougher IAEA inspections. (CNN)

 

December, 2003:  By the end of 2003 Israelis have concluded that the U.S. is incapable of stabilizing Iraq. They began training Kurdish commandos to run operations inside Kurdish areas of Syria and Iran and to spy on Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel is convinced that Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons. (The New Yorker)

 

September 27, 2004:  President Bush tells Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that the U.S. will never let Iran acquire nuclear weapons and that “all options are on the table.” (Fox News)

 

October 2004:  According to former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, the Pentagon presented Bush with a status report on its plans to have a viable military option for Iran in place by June, 2005. (PostNuke)

 

January 6, 2005:  The Iran Freedom Support Act is introduced in the House of Representatives. It is introduced in the Senate on February 9th. This Act supports a “transition to democracy in Iran.”

 

January, 2005:  The National Intelligence Council orders a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran. (Washington Post)

 

January, 2005:  The Iran Policy Committee is founded with the objective of promoting regime change in Iran. It is an active supporter of MEK. (Right Web) (Online Journal)

 

January 20, 2005:  VP Cheney states that Iran is “right at the top of the list” of global trouble spots and hints that Israel might strike to shut down its nuclear program. (Washington Post)

 

April 6, 2005:  The newly-formed Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus in the House of Representatives sponsors a briefing by the Iran Policy Committee promoting support for MEK. A similar briefing is held on May 10th. (Right Web)

 

June 12, 2005:  Bomb blasts in the Iranian city of Ahwaz. (BBC) It is claimed that MEK forces carried out these bombings in the hopes of provoking a Sunni insurgency. (Raw Story)

 

June 14, 2005:  Kenneth Timmerman publishes Countdown to Crisis:  The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran. (Amazon)

 

June 20, 2005:  Scott Ritter reports that “the U.S. war with Iran has already begun.” He says the U.S. is using pilotless drones and also sending MEK members into Iranian territory as special operations forces. (Common Dreams)

 

September 13, 2005:  The Bush administration tries to convince allies that Iran is on a fast track to obtaining nuclear weapons, using a presentation at odds with the NIE. (Washington Post)

 

Mid-July, 2005:  Representatives Weldon and Peter Hoekstra (R, MI) (chair of the House Intelligence Committee, meet in Paris with Manucher Ghorbanifar’s associate “Ali.” (McClatchy)

 

August 1, 2005:  VP Cheney orders the Pentagon to draw up plans to nuke Iran if there's another attack on U.S. soil. “As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism . . .” (The American Conservative)

 

August 2, 2005:  The Washington Post reports on a leak of the new NIE on Iran that assesses that Iran is 10 years away from having the ability to make nuclear weapons.

 

August 27, 2006:  Israel appoints a top general to oversee a war against Iran, “prompting speculation that it is preparing for possible military action against Tehran’s nuclear program.” Major General Elyezer Shkedy, Israel’s air force chief “will be overall commander for the ‘Iran front.’” (Washington Times)

 

December 19, 2005:  President Bush states that Iran cannot be allowed to have the capacity to enrich uranium because it “would lead to a weapons program.” (White House)

 

January, 2006:  A plane carrying 11 top commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard crashes near the Iraq border.  Foul play is suspected and Iran accuses the U.S. and the UK of bringing the plane down through electronic jamming. (Asia Times)

 

January, 2006:  Kenneth Timmerman of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran tells Israeli radio he expects a pre-emptive strike on Iran by Israel within 60 days. (Asia Times)

 

January 19, 2006:  A pro-MEK rally in Washington, D.C. is endorsed by Representatives Tom Tancredo (R, CO), Bob Filner (D, CA), and other members of Congress. (Right Web)

 

February, 2006:  Condoleezza Rice asks Congress for an extra $75 million to promote democracy and assist dissidents in Iran, much of it to go to the Voice of America. (Information Clearing House)

 

February 4, 2006:  IAEA votes to report Iran to the Security Council, a step potentially leading to U.N. sanctions. (CBC News)

 

March, 2006:  An attack that is said to have been carried out by MEK kills 22 Iranian officials. (Raw Story)

 

March, 2006:  The State Department creates the Office of Iranian Affairs (OIA), while the Pentagon creates an Iranian Directorate, on orders from VP Cheney, thereby undercutting John Negroponte’s role as Direct of National Intelligence. (LA Times) The Iranian Directorate appears to be the equivalent of the Office of Special Plans that had a central role in fixing the pre-war Iraq intelligence. 

 

March & April, 2006:  The U.S. begins a hard push for a U.N. resolution that could pave the way for military action against Iran. (Raw Story)

 

April 9, 2006:  The Washington Post reports that “the Bush administration is studying options for military strikes against Iran.”

 

April 10, 2006:  State Department starts “ramping up” its campaign for regime change in Iran. President Bush forms the Iran-Syria Operations Group (ISOG) headed (ISOG) headed by VP Cheney's daughter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Cheney. Its purpose is to encourage regime change in Iran.  It appears to be an extension of the OIA which, in turn, is a reincarnation of the OSP.

 

April 12, 2006:  Iran announces that it has enriched a bit of uranium for use in civilian reactors, though far below the quantity and purity needed for nukes. They've enriched the uranium to 3.5% purity. For weapons-grade material they need to be at about 80%, on an industrial-scale, all of which will likely take years.  “They need to learn a lot more to produce it in significant quantities and they need to build a lot more centrifuges,” said one specialist. “The 164 centrifuges Iran said it has strung together in a cascade are enough to test the technology, but with such a small number it would take years to produce enough uranium for even one weapon.” To make enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, a cascade of 2,000 to 3,000 centrifuges would have to be operated for at least a year. (NY Times)

 

April 13, 2006:  Raw Story publishes a report on the use of MEK in Iran. It says:  “The Pentagon is bypassing official U.S. intelligence channels and turning to a dangerous and unruly cast of characters in order to create strife in Iran in preparation for any possible attack, former and current intelligence officials say. One of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being ‘run’ in two southern regional areas of Iran. They are Baluchistan, a Sunni stronghold, and Khuzestan, a Shia region where a series of recent attacks has left many dead and hundreds injured in the last three months.”

 

April 13, 2006:  Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner claims in a CNN interview that U.S. military operations are already “underway” inside Iran. “I would say -- and this may shock some -- I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way.” (Raw Story

 

April 16, 2006:  Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair advises President Bush that “Britain cannot offer military support to any strike on Iran, regardless of whether the move wins the backing of the international community.” (The Scotsman)

 

April 17, 2006:  “The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups.” It appears the main goal is regime-change in Iran. “One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, [said] that the military planning was premised on a belief that ‘a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.’ He added, ‘I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, “What are they smoking?”’” (The New Yorker)

 

April 27, 2006:  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's religious leader, says that if the U.S. ventured into any aggression on Iran, Iran will retaliate by damaging U.S. interests worldwide twice as much as the U.S. may inflict on Iran. (Washington Post)

 

Early May, 2006:  Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sends a lengthy letter to President Bush “offering what an Iranian spokesman called 'new ways' to resolve the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.” Bush did not respond because, a spokesperson said, “it was a meandering screed that proposed no solutions to the nuclear issue.”  Condoleezza Rice said, “This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort. It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way.” (NY Times)

 

May, 2006:  The first high-level meeting between officials of the new Iraq government and Iran take place in Baghdad. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari endorses the right of Iran to pursue the “technological and scientific capabilities” needed to create nuclear power for peaceful purposes. (NY Times

 

May 28, 2006:  President Bush puts pressure on Europe and Japan to impose economic sanctions on Iran “designed to stifle the Iranian leadership financially if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve an impasse over the country's nuclear program.” The proposed sanctions, developed by a Treasury Department task force reporting directly to Condoleezza Rice, would restrict Iran's access to global markets, shut its foreign accounts, and freeze assets held in Europe and Asia. U.S. allies are reluctant to agree to the sanctions because of the costs they'd have to bear. The plan does not include oil or trade embargoes. (Washington Post) U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said on Fox’s Your World with Neil Cuvuto, that “unilateral military action against Iran was ‘on the table.’ He added, ‘This is put up or shut up time for Iran.’” (ThinkProgress)

 

April 17, 2006:  “The Bush administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack.” The nuclear option is on the table. Teams of U.S. combat troops are already operating under cover within Iran, in concert with Kurds, Azeris, and Baluchs. (The New Yorker) (See more information November 20, 2006.)

 

April 20, 2006:  VP Cheney and the DoD put Manucher Ghorbanifar back on the payroll as an intelligence asset with the approval of Representative Hoekstra, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This is considered part of an attempt to squelch any possible diplomatic resolution with Iran. (Raw Story)

 

April 21, 2006:  Iran shells militant Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistan (Party of Free Life of Durdistan) (PJAK) positions within Iraqi territory. “A former Iranian ambassador and Islamic Republic insider has provided intriguing details to Asia Times Online about U.S. covert operations inside Iran aimed at destabilizing the country and toppling the regime – or preparing for an American attack. ‘The Iranian government knows and is aware of such infiltration. It means that the Iranian government has identified [the covert operatives] but for some reason does not want to show [this]’ . . .” (Asia Times)

 

May 11, 2006:  Military assets are beginning to be put in place for an air strike against Iran. The key assets could be in place by June. (Raw Story)

 

Late Spring/Early Summer, 2006:  Representative Hoekstra travels to Paris to meet for a second time with Manucher Ghorbanifar’s associate “Ali.”

 

July 13, 2006:  The Washington Post claims that Hezbollah and Hamas are being financed by Iran.

 

July 14, 2006:  Israeli incursion into Lebanon, initiating the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese War.

 

Early August, 2006:  Senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers voice “anger that American spy agencies [had] not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.” They “accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah's recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.” (NY Times)

 

August 6, 2006:  The Sunday Times reports that Iran is plotting to obtain large amounts of uranium from the African nation of Congo.

 

August 14, 2006:  U.S. watches the Israeli campaign against Lebanon as a possible prelude to an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. (The New Yorker)

 

August 23, 2006:  The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy, chaired by Representative Hoekstra releases a report “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat.” Based on unsubstantiated public sources, it is widely considered to be a transparent attempt to force a conclusion that Iran is an active threat to the U.S.  Some of the information is believed to have been obtained during Hoekstra’s earlier meetings with Ghorbanifer. (Juan Cole’s Informed Comment) (Anti-War.com)

 

September 13, 2006:  Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki takes a trip to Iran and asks their help with Iraq's security problems. He meets with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who says: "Iran will give its assistance to establish complete security in Iraq, because Iraq’s security is Iran’s security." (NY Times)

 

September 13, 2006:  IAEA inspectors investigating Iran's nuclear program “angrily complained to the Bush administration and to a Republican congressman . . . about [the] recent House committee report on Iran's capabilities, calling parts of the document ‘outrageous and dishonest’ and offering evidence to refute its central claims.” (Washington Post)

 

September 17, 2006:  A "Prepare to Deploy Order" is sent through Naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, 2 minesweepers, and 2 minehunters to be ready to move out by October 1st. “A deployment of minesweepers to the east coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed, but until now largely theoretical, prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.” (Time)

 

September 21, 2006:  Pentagon moves to second-stage contingency planning for a possible military strike against Iran and prepares for deployment of naval carriers. (Raw Story)

 

September 30, 2006:  The Iran Freedom Support Act is signed into law. (White House) It’s purpose is “to hold the current regime in Iran accountable for its threatening behavior and to support a transition to democracy in Iran.” (GovTrack)

 

Early Fall, 2006:  A CIA assessment based on high-tech monitoring finds no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. The White House dismisses the findings but is concerned that they might be incorporated into a forthcoming National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). (New Yorker)

 

October 1, 2006:  Negroponte cautions Bush against the use of force with regard to Iran. (Sunday Times)

 

October 1, 2006:  U.S. build-up of naval forces in the Persian Gulf region continues.  Pentagon officials confirm such a build-up on December 19th. (Global Research)

 

October 2, 2006:  The Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and its accompanying strike force of cruiser, destroyer and attack submarine head for the Persian Gulf. It’s scheduled to arrive in the vicinity of Iran around October 21st “at the same time as a second flotilla of minesweepers and other ships.” “This build-up of naval power around the coast of Iran, according to some military sources, is in preparation for an air attack on Iran that would target not just Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities, but its entire military command and control system.” Such an attack “could be expected to unleash a wave of military violence all over Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere against American forces and interests and against oil wells, pipelines and loading facilities, as well as a mining of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, with a resulting skyrocketing of global oil prices . . .” (Buzzflash)

 

October 3, 2006:  “Since late August, British commandos in the deserts of far southeastern Iraq have been testing one of the most serious charges leveled by the United States against Iran: that Iran is secretly supplying weapons, parts, funding and training for attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq.” “Other senior British military leaders spoke as explicitly in interviews over the previous 2 months. Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.” (Washington Post)

 

October 16, 2006:  NATO and Israel sign a major framework agreement. “This Israel-NATO framework agreement not only has a bearing on the military build-up in the Eastern Mediterranean, which in practice is directed against Syria and Lebanon, it is also related to the massive deployment of U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf, opposite Iran.” (Global Research)

 

November, 2006:  Joshua Muravchick, a co-founder in 1995 of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI) writes: “Make no mistake:  President Bush will need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office,” and adds that his fellow neocons “need to pave the way intellectually now and be prepared to defend the action when it comes.” (The New Yorker)

 

November 9, 2006:  The Iran Enterprise Institute (IEI) is formed, dedicated to regime change and led by an Iranian exile with “dubious credentials.” (American Prospect)

 

November 20, 2006:  Seymour Hersh adds to his April 17, 2006 article and says that the U.S. and Israel have been working together to support incursions into Iranian territory by the Kurdish rebel group PJAK.  Because these operations are carried out by military special forces and not the CIA, the administration is required to brief Congress. (Truthout)

 

November 20, 2006:  Despite all the talk about Iran's attempts to build a nuclear bomb, a highly classified draft assessment by the CIA found “no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program.” The White House reacts with hostility to the CIA's report and, as it did with Iraq, is bypassing the agency by collecting and compiling its own intelligence for a possible military strike. (The New Yorker) On CNN, the author of the article, Seymour Hersh, said there is an “internecine fight” going on between the CIA and the White House over the intelligence process, “the same fight, by the way, that we had before Iraq.” 

 

December, 2006:  Iraq and Iran reach a formal security agreement. (AP)

 

Mid-December, 2006:  The U.S. military picks ups and holds at least 4 Iranians in Iraq, including some who were described as senior military officials. 2 Iranian diplomats are among those initially held, but they are soon turned over to the Iraqi authorities and released. (NY Times) The U.S. claims that the Iranians were responsible for planning or carrying out attacks against Iraqi security forces. (NY Times) The Iraqi government claims there was nothing to hold the men for and that the U.S. raid had needlessly damaged Iraq's relations with its neighbor. (NY Times)

 

January 4, 2007:  Navy Admiral William Fallon appointed to head the Central Command, which controls forces in the Middle East. (Washington Post)

 

January 9, 2007:  U.S. imposes sanctions on a major Iranian bank. (MSNBC)

 

January 10, 2007:  Bush announces an escalation of troops in Iraq. He says, “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria, and we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.” (Radio Free Europe)

 

January 11, 2007:  U.S. attacks the Iranian embassy in the northern Kurdish city of Arbil and detains 5 staff members and confiscates documents and computer data. Some papers say that 1 person was later released. (NY Times) Another raid took place at the Arbil airport where U.S. troops tried to detain people but were stopped by Kurdish forces. (Washington Post)

 

January 19, 2007:  A former U.S. intelligence analyst says that President Bush is planning to invade Iran but it's not going to be a “surgical” strike against its nuclear program. It's going to be a full-scale attack that will likely throw the entire region into war for many years. (Reuters)

 

January 23, 2007:  President Bush reiterates his claims against Iran in his State of the Union address. The LA Times reports that there isn't any evidence that this is true. “If there is anywhere Iran could easily stir up trouble in Iraq, it would be in Diyala, a rugged province along the border between the 2 nations. . . [E]vidence of Iranian involvement in Iraq's troubles is limited. U.S. troops have found mortars and antitank mines with Iranian markings dated 2006 . . . But there has been little sign of more advanced weaponry crossing the border, and no Iranian agents have been found.”

 

February 3, 2007:  National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is released. It plays down Iran's role, if any, in Iraq’s problems. A U.S. military press briefing that is planned in Iraq that would have laid out U.S. evidence for Iranian involvement was cancelled because the White House thought the case was "overstated," said national security advisor Stephen Hadley. (LA Times)

 

February 4, 2007:  The New York Times reports that “The many setbacks and outright failures of Tehran’s experimental program suggest that its bluster may outstrip its technical expertise. And the problems help explain American intelligence estimates that Iran is at least 4 years away from producing a nuclear weapon. After weeks of limited access inside Iran, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have reported that Tehran has succeeded in manufacturing parts for about 3,000 centrifuges, the devices that can spin uranium into reactor fuel – or bomb fuel. In recent days, the Iranians have begun installing the machines and supporting gear in a cavernous plant at Natanz, which would be a potential target if the United States or one of its allies decided that diplomacy would never keep Iran from getting the bomb.  What the Iranians are not talking about, experts with access to the atomic agency’s information say, is that their experimental effort to make centrifuges work has struggled to achieve even limited success and appears to have been put on the back burner so the country’s leaders can declare that they are moving to the next stage.”

 

February 4, 2007:  Iranian diplomat Jalal Sharafi is abducted in Baghdad. His "convoy was stopped by men with official Defense Ministry identification. . . raising serious questions about whether government forces themselves were involved in the abduction." (NY Times) 4 Iraqis are arrested. Iran accuses the U.S. of being behind the kidnapping. "They were 'not under the Ministry of Defense control, they were directly connected to the American control,' said an official at the Iranian Embassy who spoke on condition of anonymity." The U.S. military denies any connection. (Washington Post)

 

February 7, 2006:  The Los Angeles Times reports that Israel has been waging an "unusually open campaign" to get the international community to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. "Its politicians and generals warn of a 'second Holocaust' if, as in the 1930s, the world stands by while a heavily armed nation declares war against the Jews." They are threatening to "resort to force" if something isn't done to prevent Iran's development of nuclear weapons. "Israel began secretly preparing in the early 1990s for a possible air raid on Iran's then-nascent nuclear facilities and has been making oblique public statements about such planning for 3 years."

 

February 19, 2007:  Dan Plesch, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, publishes a report in the New Statesman. He states that the American military is already engaged in a “low-level war with Iran.” He further states that, “The U.S. army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battles plans and spent four years building bases and training for ‘Operation Iranian Freedom.’ Admiral Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command, has inherited computerised plans under the name TIRNNT (Theatre Iran Near Term.)”

 

© The Issue Wonk, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

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