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of making a halt to enrichment a precondition of talks is out of date.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
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
Navy officials said on Wednesday that this was the largest daytime assembly
of ships since the 2003 Iraq
The group of ships crossed the Straits of Hormuz at roughly 03:55 GMT on
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.
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
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