Tension rises in Gulf as 60 day UN deadline expires

The International Atomic Energy Agency is to report on whether Iran
has met this deadline.  But news agencies
report the IAEA will likely say Iran
has not only ignored the ultimatum but has expanded the program. 

The head of the IAEA, Muhammad el-Baradei, has said Western powers' strategy
of making a halt to enrichment a precondition of talks is out of date. 

Instead, el-Baradei has said Western powers should focus on limiting the
program so it can't be used to make nuclear weapons.

Such comments by el-Baradei have reportedly upset officials from the United
States and some European allies. 

According to the Reuters news agency, IAEA ambassadors from the United
States, France,
Germany, and Britain
reportedly plan to complain to el-Baradei this week for what they consider the
IAEA chief's “unhelpful remarks.”

There has been a massive increase in anti-Iranian propaganda published in
the main stream press over
the past week, almost exclusively attributed to unnamed sources or senior
military spokesmen, but is almost all cases no-one has been willing to be
named. Much of this press coverage is rumoured to originate from the Iran
Policy committee, which is run and funded by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Iran Policy committee made no secret of the fact that it would be
undertaking covert actions against Iran, in its press conference on 11th Jan
07, which it held in Washington at the same time as Pres. Bush was briefing the
press about ‘the surge’, which we wrote
about
in Janury.

At the same time Nine US warships carrying 17,000 personnel have entered the
Gulf in a show of force off Iran's
coast.

Navy officials said on Wednesday that this was the largest daytime assembly
of ships since the 2003 Iraq
war.

The group of ships crossed the Straits of Hormuz at roughly 03:55 GMT on
Wednesday.

Rear Admiral Kevin Quinn, the group leader, said the ships would conduct
exercises as part of a long-planned effort to assure regional allies of US
commitment to Gulf security.

Navy officials said the decision to send a second aircraft carrier was made
at a last minute, without giving a reason.

 

US navy officials said Iran had not been notified of plans to sail the ships, which
include two aircraft carriers, through the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow channel
in international waters off
Iran's coast and a major artery for global oil shipments.

“There's always the threat of any state or
non-state actor that might decide to close one of the international straits,
and the biggest one is the Straits of Hormuz,” he said on board the USS
John C Stennis
aircraft carrier.

“What is special about this is that you have
two strike groups. Everybody will see us because it is in daylight.”

Most US ships pass through the straits at night so as not to attract
attention, and rarely move in such large numbers.

Standoff

Tension between the US and Iran over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and Iraq has raised regional fears of a possible military
confrontation that could hit Gulf economies and threaten vital oil exports.

The move comes less than two weeks after Dick
Cheney, the
US vice-president, speaking aboard the Stennis
during a tour of the Gulf, said the
US would stand with others to prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons and “dominating the
region”.

On a visit to Abu Dhabi a few days later, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian
president, threatened “severe” retaliation if the 
US attacked his country, which is locked in a standoff with
the
US over its nuclear programme.

He also urged Gulf countries to “get rid
of” foreign forces, blaming them for insecurity in the region.

The US accuses Iran of trying to produce nuclear weapons, and has sought
tougher UN sanctions against
Iran. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are for energy purposes only.

Last month, the US Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain conducted its biggest crisis response drill and in March
the
US navy conducted its biggest war drills in the Gulf since
2003. (source).

 

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About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
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