Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tough talk on Iran again

Rumors are circulating again at defense news websites that a joint U.S.-Israel attack on Iran is imminent.

The reasons given include the sending of a second aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf, the 21,500 "troop surge" in Iraq, the deployment of several Patriot air defense batteries, groups of minesweepers and cruise missile submarines, reports of increased drone and reconnaissance aircraft flights over Iran, U.S. sanctions against two Iranian banks, and a media 'surge' claiming that Iran is helping Iraqi insurgents.

"The presence of four US nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that the Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes against nuclear targets in Iran," Admiral Eduard Baltin, former commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, told journalists recently.

As to why a "surgical" strike against Iranian nuclear targets is in the works now, a number of reasons have been suggested including:

* To divert attention from the floundering situation in Iraq, and to reverse the tide of opinion after the Republican losses in the last election. The hope is a new security "threat" will bring back support for the president and his party.

* The recent launch of an Iranian satellite seen by some as a covert test of an ICBM system.

* Russia's recent delivery of advanced Tor air defense systems, and the country's general defiance in providing Iran with advanced weapons and assistance in building and protecting nuclear reactors.

* Iran's growing influence in the region demonstrated most recently by Hezbollah's war with Israel.

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