Sunday, April 2, 2006
Claims in the British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph that senior military officers of the United Kingdom will meet with government officials on Monday to discuss a US-led assault on Iran have been denied by the Ministry of Defence.
However, the Defence Correspondent for the BBC Paul Wood said that "US plans for a possible strike are thought to be at an advanced stage." This echoes reports made in December by the influential German magazine Der Spiegel that, according to a report by intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte, during a December 2005 visit to Ankara, Turkey, CIA Director Porter Goss asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for support in a potential air strike against the Iran's recently infamous nuclear facilities, including the enrichment facility at Natanz. Der Spiegel goes on to say that, "More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission."
While speaking on British television channel ITV1 during her recent visit to the UK, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "We believe that diplomacy has a chance to work but we are going to work with whomever we can, in whatever form we can, diplomatically, to try and bring the Iranians around. Iran is not Iraq. I know that's what's on people's minds. The circumstances are different." However, she then added, "The president of the United States doesn't take his options off the table."
Also on the programme with Rice was Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary. After admitting that UN Security Council member Russia was uneasy regarding the Iran issue, he said, "They are worried about the possibility of the Iranians stirring up trouble for them, but they also share our high suspicions that Iran may be using its civil nuclear capability to develop a nuclear weapon and they do not want that."
In the initial article, The Sunday Telegraph stated that "a high-level meeting will take place on Monday in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran." The Ministry of Defence, (often abbreviated to MoD), later denied all the claims, and made it clear that there were absolutely no plans for a meeting of the kind described in the newspaper.
However, the article also went on to claim that an attack centred around removing Iran's nuclear capabilities was inevitable if Tehran failed to accept the demands of the United Nations. Somewhat surprisingly, the MoD failed to comment on this point, merely stressing the false nature of the claims regarding the meeting supposedly set for tomorrow (Monday, April 3).
Regarding his country's nuclear program, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is maintaining his defiant stance, alluding to the fact that Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which was reaffirmed by the United Nations Security Council in its March 29, 2006 presidential statement, implies that Iran has as much right to press on with such technologies as any other nation which is party to the NPT.
== Related news ==
"IAEA chief, Russia, China express concerns about threats against Iran" — Wikinews, April 2, 2006
== Sources ==
"MoD denies Iran military meeting" — BBC News, April 2, 2006
"Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?" — Der Spiegel, December 30, 2005