Latest on Iran. Signals from Washington and Jerusalem on the Iranian nuclear program.
Debka on Bush and Iran. Debka, today: 'US President Bush says Iran must take the consequences for defiance of UN deadline and never be allowed to attain nuclear weapons. Bush was speaking about the war on terror in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 31, hours before the deadline expired for Iran to give up uranium enrichment and face a Security Council debate on possible sanctions. We offered to negotiate for an agreed solution to the problem, but all we got from Iran was delays and defiance, said the US president. He went on to say: Lebanon was controlled by a Syrian dictator and when we forced the Syrians to withdraw and let Lebanon establish a democratic government, Hizballah decided to attack Israel in order to derail the democratic process in Beirut. The Lebanon war showed us we are facing a great danger from the Iranian regime which supports and supplies weapons to Hizballah and sends weapons and explosives to Iraqi terrorists. That should show everyone how dangerous it would be for Iran to have nuclear weapons. The US president declared: We will not leave Iraq until victory is achieved.' This follows yesterday's report that Kofi Annan left Jerusalem empty-handed after asking Ehud Olmert for a written assurance that Israel would not attack Iran: 'The most burning issue on the mind of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his talks in Jerusalem was not Lebanon – but Iran. Our exclusive Jerusalem sources reveal that the issues raised at his press conferences with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and FM Tzipi Livni – the full implementation of UN resolution 1701, the Israeli blockade of Lebanon, the kidnapped Israel soldiers, the embargo on imported weapons for Hizballah - were all left outside the closed doors of the conference rooms he entered in Jerusalem. Inside, the UN Secretary went straight to the point: He wanted an Israeli message to hand to Iranian leaders in Tehran which he hoped to visit later in his 11-day Middle East tour. The message was to contain an assurance that, despite the Lebanon war and the accelerated tempo of the Iranian nuclear program, Israel undertook not to attack Iran. Annan wanted to be the bearer of a Note in this vein to dispel the Islamic Republic’s fears of an imminent Israeli strike. He told Olmert he intended placing this assurance in the hands of supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in person. Olmert turned him down.' Meanwhile, via Regime Change Iran, Zaman reports:
Two days ahead of the U.N. deadline for Iran to halt its nuclear program, the U.S. administration indirectly threatened to use a “military option” against Tehran as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad directed fierce criticisms against the U.S. and Britain.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, referring to Iran, indicated the U.S. army was capable of waging another war somewhere else, even though it is currently operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When asked if the U.S. was not capable of fighting a war in another region since its soldiers were presently engaged in clashes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rumsfeld responded, “We are capable of dealing with other problems, were they to occur.”
“It would be unfortunate if other countries thought that because we have 136,000 troops in Iraq today, that we're not capable of defending our country or doing anything that we might need to do,” said Rumsfeld, referring to Iran.
Meanwhile, Ha'Aretz has this: 'President George W. Bush said Thursday that Iran has responded with defiance and delay to demands to stop enriching uranium and said "there must be consquences" for Tehran. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton also said on Thursday that the UN Security Council must begin drawing up sanctions against Iran now that the nation's leaders have disregarded a UN deadline to suspend uranium enrichment. Bolton said Security Council unanimity was not needed before taking action against Iran over its nuclear program, a reference to continued Chinese and Russian reluctance to move quickly on sanctions.' (various)