Here are three recent stories on Iran that I found noteworthy.
From Bloomberg and other sources we learn that Iran has ignored the UN imposed deadline to stop its uranium enrichment program. At a rally in Iran's Gilan province, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told supporters that acquiring nuclear energy is "very important for the progress and honor of the country,'' and that "If we shut down other activities for 10 years and the country only focuses on nuclear energy it will be worth it because if we obtain this energy our people will advance as much as 50 years."
This doesn't surprise me. Ahmadinejad has consistently said he will not give up Iran's efforts to develop an independent nuclear energy program, citing the UN Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty's guarantee that pursuing the technology is an "inalienable right."
The BBC "reveals" the U.S. attack plan for Iran.
US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.
It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.
I'd be surprised to learn differently. If you're going to strike a country like Iran, you need to hit it hard enough that it can't hit back.
Last but certainly not least, the Associated Press brings us news of recent Iranian naval maneuvers.
MANAMA, Bahrain — Iran has brought its war games maneuvers over the past year into busy shipping lanes in the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which two-fifths of the world's oil supplies pass, the top U.S. Navy commander in the Mideast said.
The moves have alarmed U.S. officials about possible accidental confrontations that could boil over into war, and led to a recent build-up of Navy forces in the Gulf, Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh said in an interview with The Associated Press and other reporters.
Again, I’m not surprised that Iran would conduct naval exercises near shipping lanes and in the Straits of Hormuz. That's what their navy is designed to do--interdict shipping and close down the Straits. And Iran has as much right to operate in those waters as we do. But like Admiral Walsh, I'm somewhat alarmed about "possible accidental confrontation that could boil over into war."
Three or more things could trigger an all out war with Iran. One would be conclusive evidence that the country is developing nuclear weapons. I doubt we'll discover such evidence because I doubt it exists--not yet anyway.
Another trigger would be positive "proof" that Iran is directly involved with arming Shiite militias in Iraq and helping them attack U.S. troops. After the secret briefing fiasco in Baghdad two Sundays ago, it seems unlikely that credible proof will emerge.
Iran could preemptively toss a Shahab 3 ballistic missile into Baghdad, but that's just not going to happen.
But with tensions mounting and Iranian and U.S. naval forces careening around the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz, the possibility of a Tonkin Gulf or Vincennes style incident occurring is entirely too real.
A provocation or even a mere misunderstanding at sea could lead to the U.S. unloading the whole can of smack on Iran, at which point Iran would be justified in fighting back. Iran couldn't "defeat" us in an air and naval war, per se, but it would likely do enough damage to embarrass us.
And the rest of the world will look on as America once again shines its heinie in a war that didn't have to be.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.