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Saturday, January 10

"The Obama Administration Inherits the Iran Threat"

Waiting for Tehran by John Batchelor at 9:17 PM ET. [See the post at his site for pictures, links, and video]:

The New York Times reports for Sunday 11 that the Bush administration nixed an Israeli request in 2007-2008 for bunker buster bombs ... and permission to fly over Iraq. The US presumption was that the IDF was going to launch an air strike on the nuclear fuel cycle program at the Natanz site ...

Instead, goes the report, the Bush administration approved a covert operation to interrupt the supply chain for the Iranian nuclear fuel cycle and to slow down the development of a nuclear weapon. These details are left out of the article. Identified of special interest is an Iranian nuke weaponeer named Mohsen Fakrizadeh, who is said to be leading the weapons building team. The IAEA at Vienna is said to have briefed on one of Mihsen Fakrizadeh's projects that was a missile launch that ended with a warhead exploding 650 yards above ground -- "approximately the altitude from which the bomb dropped on Hiroshima exploded."

Why this Report Now?

The NYT is giving enough detail to convince anyone that Tehran has an active nuclear weapons program. This is not news except perhaps to the American electorate (and to candidate Obama?) that wanted to ignore the fact and use the 2007 bizarrely misleading NIE report as a genuine document.

What this report does now is make the very good case that the Bush administration chose to ignore and avoid Tehran's nukes these last years. Why? My best signals source calls it "the Faustian deal." The US promised Tehran that we would not attack its nukes, or challenge its long term plans in the region, in exchange for Tehran letting the US leave Iraq with a victory. Or at least leave Iraq with the Iraqis who work for Tehran (P.M. Maliki is the Iranian viceroy in Iraq) in charge.

The bargain worked. The Bush administration ends its watch with the Iraqi army taking control of the Green Zone and Iraq security. At the same time, Tehran has an estimated 4000 or more P2 centrifuges working which will soon enough produce material for many bombs.

Waiting for Tehran

What is not part of the bargain is the IDF's campaign against Hamas in Gaza. This is a blow to Tehran's plans to surround and defeat Israel and establish Iran as the regional hegemon.

My best signals source tells me that the Wednesday 7 meeting between Tehran's agent Ali Larijani and Hamas boss Khaled Meshal ... in Damascus was to discuss Tehran's response to Israel's aggression. Tehran has been caught unprepared for the IDF's offensive. The small rockets into northern Israel were a calling card. In this news cycle, Meshal announced from Damascus that Hamas will never surrender and that the IDF action is a holocaust and that this ends any chance for a settlement. Strong words. Perhaps he is trying to influence Tehran's decision.

The IDF says that it wants another 20 days to degrade and destroy Hamas and its rocket capability. The UN resolution did not try to solve the rockets or the smuggling. Cairo wants Hamas destroyed but at the same time is aware that Tehran remains a long term threat.

Everyone in the region looks to be waiting for Tehran. Is the Obama administration waiting, too? Mrs. Clinton testifies to the Senate panel on her nomination next week. What will she say about Tehran's nukes, about Tehran's support for Hamas, about the threat of Tehran to Israel? Is the Clinton Doctrine a new Tehran Doctrine? Or is it the Bush Doctrine of no decision?
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