Bush is so happy with his "global war on terror" that he looks set to expand the fight to Iran. The same neo-conservatives who collected misleading intelligence on Iraq's (giving Bush the justification he wanted to launch an unprovoked invasion) are now arguing that action must be taken against Iran.
So, Europe negotiates with Iran while the US states that any deal suspending nuclear enrichment and intensifying weapons inspections is unenforceable and will collapse in months. Does this sound familiar?
The (two or three) moderates in Bush´s administration argue that there is no safe military option (as they don't know where the weapons are, or if they exist, and Iran will probably retaliate - maybe inside the troubled Iraq).
The Hawks of course remind us "It is not a straightforward problem but at some point the costs of doing nothing may just become too high. In Iran you have the intersection of nuclear weapons and proven ties to terrorism. That is what we are looking at now."
They suggest the use of air and special operations attacks against Iran's "suspected" nuclear facilities will stop the ruling clerics in Tehran acquiring warheads. In other words - we should bomb another country in case they develop weapons - deja-vu.
According to the Journalist Seymour Hersh (who was also the first to report the abuse in Abu Ghraib in the US media), the Pentagon has already sent special operations teams into Iran to locate possible nuclear weapons sites. An inside source advised him "This is a war against terrorism and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next we're going to have the Iranian campaign."
The reply from the White House and the Pentagon, slagged off the journalist, but did not deny the claim.
Interestingly, the Guardian found evidence that the US has been talking to the "Mujahedin-e-Khalq" (a group that the US State Dept call terrorists and who were previously under the protection of Saddam Hussein) about spying raids in Iran. A former CIA officer said he had been asked by the Pentagon to travel to Iraq to oversee "MEK cross-border operations". He refused, stating "They think in Iran you can just go in and hit the facilities and destabilise the government. They believe they can get rid of a few crazy mullahs and bring in the young guys who like Gap jeans, all the world's problems are solved. I think it's delusional". The Pentagon has refused to comment.
The agreement between the EU and Iran in November, was intended to get Iran to abandon the manufacture of nuclear fuel which can be further refined to bomb-grade. Of course, there was no agreement for the EU (or for that matter the US) to give up their nuclear programme.
However, since November Iran has continued to process uranium concentrate into gaseous form. This is described as a breach "not of the letter but of the spirit of the agreement". Israel is scaremongering stating that Iran could have nuclear technology by 2007 (don't forget Israel already has nukes). So, it is okay for us and our (dubious) allies to develop these horrific weapons, but god forbid that one of the countries most at risk from US invasion develops weapons described by us as a deterrent!
Remember that North Korea recently offered to dispose of her nukes in return for a written agreement from the US President not to invade without provocation. The President refused.
A recent war-game carried out by retired military officers, intelligence officials and diplomats for the Atlantic Monthly, concluded that there were no feasible military options and if negotiations and the threat of sanctions fail. Sam Gardiner, (the retired air force colonel who led the war-game) noted that the US Administration are unlikely to see it that way. He stated "Everything you hear about the planning for Iraq suggests logic may not be the basis for the decision,"
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna has had inspectors in the country throughout the last twenty years. Although they have noted some suspicions, the inspectors have not found any proof of a secret nuclear bomb programme. In return, the US tapped the phone of IAEA chief, Dr Mohammad El Baradei, in the hopes of finding evidence of wrongdoing (there was none). This in part related to the fact that he did not support the view that Iraq had WMD - and he was right.
Still, I am sure that the US and UK Governments will be happy to assure us that they have "irrefutable evidence" that the programme exists. After all, it was unsubstantiated allegations from Iran which helped convince the US that Iraq was stockpiling WMD!
In a similar fashion, Pakistan is providing information against Iran in return for an amnesty for Abdul Qadeer Khan (the disgraced metallurgist who oversaw the creation of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and who was revealed last year to be the head of the biggest international nuclear smuggling racket ever uncovered).
Needless to say, Iran also has large oil reserves - what a co-incidence.