The U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz has "unexplained ties" with the disgraced Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's proliferation network. Talking to journalists, Gregory Schulte said that it has been well established that Khan "gave Iran a document on machining uranium metal into hemispheres" and although the IAEA has "asked for the document" it has not been "made available."
Contrary to conventional thinking that it would increase pressure on Pakistan to produce the document, Schulte has said that Washington is focusing on Iran but insists that it wants a negotiated settlement as it has achieved with North Korea. Schulte says that it is "fair" to ask Iran for the "suspension" of their "nuclear program for the life of the negotiations" because Tehran had previously used talks as a cover to further its controversial program.
The IAEA is to meet March 5 to discuss Director Mohammed El Baradei's report on the nuclear program (due for submission February 21) and then the matter will be taken up at the UN Security Council. Schulte warned Iran not to expect Russia and China to block the any sanctions as it could be "surprised" by their support for sanctions.
Meanwhile, noted Defense export Dan Plesch says that the U.S. military establishment has prepared a war plan that could destroy Iran's "military, political economic infrastructure overnight using conventional weapons" which clearly is "beyond" expected "targeting of WMD facilities." Part of the worry for the U.S. establishment is that remnant war and retaliation machinery in Iran could easily targets its troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and also disrupts energy supplies through the Persian Gulf. Plesch says that the U.S. is "planning to attack Iran" targeting "at least 10,000 targets" that can be "hit in a single raid" and "the US air force can hit the last-known position of Iranian military units, political leaders and supposed sites of weapons of mass destruction." In his article in the left leaning New Statesman, Plesch accuses the U.S. of trying to create a federal nation "Iran of the regions" that would include independent Iran and portions of Iraq. Washington's policy to "respond firmly" if "Iran escalates its military action in Iraq" and target American troops.
Several American bases and aircraft carriers in the region allow American aircraft to reach Iran less than an hour. Recently, the U.S. has built three bases in Azerbaijan with "facilities equal to its best in Europe" that Plesch says can be used as "transit points for troops."
If Plesch's report is to believed, the U.S. already has marine forces "assembling" and several of these "carrier forces can each conduct a version of the D-Day landings" with "landing craft, tanks, jump-jets, thousands of troops" and "hundreds more cruise missiles." The objective is to "destroy Iranian forces able to attack oil tankers and to secure oilfields and installations."
The revelation came at a time when the Democratic controlled Congress and Senate censured US President George Bush on the Iraq war and also made a non-binding resolution restraining Bush from waging war on Iran. US Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the Congress has not given any "authority for the President…to go into Iran."