According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation is scheduled to revisit Iran from February 21-22. He said, “These cooperations between Iran and the IAEA can lead to the agency’s better understanding of the peaceful nature of our activities.”
The delegation, which was led by Herman Nackaerts, Deputy Director General and head of the agency’s Department of Safeguards, was in Iran from January 29-31. The two sides say the talks took place in a constructive atmosphere. Upon returning to Vienna Nakaerts said, “We are committed to resolve all the outstanding issues and the Iranians said they are committed too. But of course there is still a lot of work to be done and so we have planned another trip in the very near future.”
It appears that the cooperation between the IAEA and Tehran is proceeding normally, and we should expect new information about Iran’s nuclear program. Especially since the Iranian authorities not only are not preventing the IAEA commission from doing its job but are assisting it in every way possible, as Nakaerts also reported.
However, such developments are not to the liking of the Western nations, which have been scaring the world with the prospect of war against Iran for a year now. Recently, such militant rhetoric has been particularly evident from Washington. It is seeking to unilaterally determine the entire course of world events in place of the UN. An endless stream of all kinds of imaginable and unimaginable sanctions against the sovereign Islamic Republic has been emerging from the shores of the Potomac.
The President of the United States has just signed an Executive Order imposing additional sanctions. The Executive Order freezes all Iranian government assets in the United States. It also applies to Iran’s central bank and its other financial institutions. Obama explained in a letter to Congress that these actions were necessitated by Iran’s failure to meet its international obligations. “I have determined that additional sanctions are warranted, particularly in light of the deceptive practices of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks to conceal transactions of sanctioned parties, the deficiencies in Iran’s anti-money laundering regime and the weaknesses in its implementation, and the continuing and unacceptable risk posed to the international financial system by Iran’s activities,” he said in the letter.
At the same time, Obama said in an interview broadcast by NBC that the United States has very good intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. He said the United States has a fairly good understanding of Iran’s capabilities in the nuclear field and what stage it is at in the uranium enrichment process. He said in recent years the United States has studied various options for action against Iran, including war, and it is prepared to take that step should it become necessary, but his goal is to try and resolve the conflict by diplomatic means, mainly because the only way of guaranteeing that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons at some point in the future is to convince it that it is not in its interest to do so.
Obama reiterated that the United States will do everything possible to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and stop an arms race — a nuclear arms race— from getting underway in that unstable region.
In accordance with those plans, the United States is continuing to build up military forces near Iran. The Pentagon already has several large air, naval and land bases in the region — in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson is currently on station in the Persian Gulf. A different carrier — the Abraham Lincoln — just recently entered the Gulf. The USS Enterprise is expected to arrive in the Persian Gulf in March. It is currently conducting a COMPTUEX, or Composite Training Unit Exercise, in the Atlantic.
The exercise is using maps of the east coast of the United States. Instead of US states, the maps depict notional countries. In particular, 320 km off the coast, which is called the “Treasure Coast,” the maps show a strait 54 km wide — the same width as the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. According to the exercise scenario, the carrier’s objectives are two theocratic states — “Garnet” and “North Garnet,” both of which resemble Iran. The two fundamentalist Shakhid countries are suspected of supporting terrorism and want to unite with a country called Piropa — one of nine countries on the Treasure Coast.
Iran is well aware of the Pentagon’s aggressive new plans. Tehran is analyzing possible options for a US-Israeli attack: the three most likely scenarios have been published on the official website of the country’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They were described by Amir Mohebian, a senior political commentator and military analyst.
The first scenario assumes an all out war of attrition that would combine aerial attacks and a ground invasion. The second involves precision destruction of command and control centers to destabilize the regime and Iran overall until Tehran throws out a “white flag.” Finally, in the third scenario, specific military targets capable of harming Israel and the United States would be destroyed. Mohebian questioned whether the allies have sufficient military resources in the region to execute the first option, and he doubts whether the United States would start a dubious war prior to the election without good intelligence. The other options are more realistic, but their execution would entail a number of tragic consequences.
During Friday prayers at Tehran University, Ayatollah Khamenei said Tehran will not succumb to pressure from the West and end its nuclear program, and he urged the United States to abandon the idea of attacking his country’s nuclear facilities. “Threats and an attack on Iran would take its toll on America itself. The sanctions will not affect our determination to continue our nuclear program. When necessary, we will also adopt the tactic of threats in response to the West’s threats of war and an oil embargo,” the Ayatollah said in his speech, which was carried live on state television.
And Iran is doing more than just talking. According to Press TV, Iran has launched its third satellite. It reported that Friday morning the 50-kg Iranian-made satellite, Navid-e Elm-o Sana’at (“Harbinger of Science and Industry”) was successfully launched into an orbit at an altitude of between 250 and 370 km. It is expected to remain in orbit for 18 months, making 15 revolutions around the Earth each day while sending the Iranians images of the Earth’s surface. The satellite was launched with an upgraded Iranian Safir (“The Messenger”) rocket. Iranian Space Agency chief Hamid Fazeli told reporters that the Navid satellite is the first built entirely using Iranian technologies. He said the Navid is a micro-satellite intended to monitor weather conditions and photograph the Earth’s surface. As the western agency AP news agency has noted, this type of satellite is cheaper to manufacture and allows the use of cheaper launch vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Iranian armed forces been conducting routine exercises since February 4. The ground force headquarters said the maneuvers in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz are being held to improve the combat effectiveness of troops in the event of a military conflict. However, these exercises are much less extensive than those conducted late last year by the Iranian navy.
Nevertheless, Iranian military commanders are keeping up their militant rhetoric. Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said Iran will attack any country whose territory is used by its enemies to launch a military strike against its soil.
Viktor Mikhin is a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.
Source: New Eastern Outlook