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NEWS: Mossad killed Roshan, Sunday Times reports

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"A Sunday Times [of London] report revealed Monday that Mossad agents were behind last week’s assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist," Haaretz reported.[1]  --  While the U.S. has indignantly rejected the notion that the U.S. was involved, a blog entry on the website of the Jerusalem Post (appearing under the rubric "Antisemitism and Jewish Survival") held out the hope that all of this Israel-blaming was merely an American feint:  "After all, the American armada IS positioned to attack; he does have 50,000+ troops in Kuwait and the Gulf Emirates; and, thanks to the 'now you see it, now not' foil of the cancelled Austere Challenge 12 there are an addition 9,000 U.S. troops already in place in Israel."[2]  --  On Monday, The Hill reported that "The likelihood of military conflict between the United States and Iran is higher now than at any time in more than two decades, military analysts say, as tensions continue to escalate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and blustery rhetoric."[3] ...

1.

SUNDAY TIMES: MOSSAD AGENTS BEHIND IRAN SCIENTIST ASSASSINATION


** Report reveals the step-by-step procedure behind the killing of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan as he was on his way to the Natanz uranium enrichment. **

Haaretz

January 16, 2012

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/sunday-times-mossad-agents-behind-iran-scientist-assasination-1.407593


A Sunday Times report revealed Monday that Mossad agents were behind last week’s assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist.

According to the report, the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was similar to that seen in “espionage films” -- planned over a period of many months, and including extensive surveillance and intelligence gathering.  The Sunday Times quoted an unnamed Israeli sources who claimed that the killing was a precursor to a military strike, which would make rebuilding nuclear facilities more difficult for Iran, should they be bombed.

The report further claimed that small groups of Israeli Mossad agents had carefully observed key areas in Tehran deemed relevant to the Roshan’ assassination.

"There is zero tolerance for mistakes.  By nature, every failure not only risks the neck of the agents but also risks turning into an international scandal,” said the Israeli source.

According to the Sunday Times, Roshan, 32, was monitored from a makeshift control room in a safe house nearby as he was preparing to leave for work.  Israeli agents were also watching the entrance to Iranian intelligence headquarters in the city center, when they noticed a number of cars and people running, followed by police rushing into the nearby streets.  Another agent monitoring radio traffic between the Tehran police and security forces confirmed unusual activity, said the paper.

The report states that as Roshan’s bodyguard was driving him to Natanz uranium enrichment site, where he served as director, a masked person on a motorbike weaved through traffic, planting a bomb on the car shaped to deliver its full force at the passenger.

The Sunday Times report stated that hundreds of regime supporters swore revenge at Roshan’s funeral on Friday.  "Two targets were always in Mustafa's mind," Reza Najafi, a friend, said.  "To fight Israel and to become a shaheed (martyr).  He achieved both his targets."

The United States ruled out any connection with the assassination.  "We were not involved in any way with regards to the assassination that took place there," said Secretarty of Defense Leon Panetta, although he did hint that he had "some idea" of who was.

According to the report, the British Foreign Office also said Britain had "no involvement whatsoever" in the attack.

2.

Antisemitism and Jewish Survival

FOLLOWING A LONG TRADITION OF BLAMING ISRAEL, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION...

By David Turner

Jerusalem Post

January 17, 2012

http://blogs.jpost.com/content/following-long-tradition-blaming-israel-obama-administration%E2%80%A6


--"Israel] is supposed to be a strategic asset.  Well, guess what?  There are a lot of people now, important people, who just don't think that's true."
 
--“TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jan 14, 9:42 AM EST, Iran said Saturday it has evidence that the United States was behind the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist this week in Tehran, state media reported.”

 
America has a long tradition of using Israel as scapegoat whenever its dirty linen goes public.  And whether or not the United States is guilty as charged in the assassination of that Iranian scientist, an article that appeared in Foreign Policy immediately following Iran pointing to America as perpetrator has all the hallmarks of continuing that time-honored blame game.  When Irangate, the Reagan administration’s gun- and drug-running program financed through Saudi money laundering surfaced in 1986, administration insiders tried to shift blame on to Israel.  As if Israel could convince the president to turn into a criminal.  And when, fifteen years later, Bush’s “victory” speech turned out to be several years premature, administration insiders also turned on Israel.  As if Israel could convince the president to invade Iraq.  And now, with serial regional policy failures stretching from Libya to Yemen with a stopover in Egypt to depose America’s principal Arab ally; with Iran saying they captured a bomber, that they have evidence the U.S. carried out the assassination, who but Israel would be trotted out as administration stooge to deflect attention and blame.

Two weeks ago, with the signing of those tough, new sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank it appeared that finally the U.S. was taking a strong stand against the Iranian bomb.  After all, the legislation coincided with British, French, and American warships taking positions in and around the Gulf.  This time Obama really meant it.
 
Within days of their announcement Iran’s currency fell 20% and more in value and rumors surfaced that the Islamic Republic might even be overthrown.  Then it we read that the president was engaged in “secret negotiations” with Iran, that those sanctions would interfere with his ability to conduct foreign policy.
 
Does this not have all the hallmarks of his oft-repeated threat to use force that “all options are on the table,” that the U.S. was prepared to attack it the nuclear program was not halted?  Whether or not Obama ever convincingly delivered the “threat,” its repeated use followed by as many retreats drained it of any credibility.  And, as if to confirm, the president’s “secret negotiations” was just a letter delivered by a “third party” warning Iran against closing the Strait.  No doubt, as seen by Iran, as yet one more Obama “red line” to be disregarded.
 
In this continuing soap opera between the giant and the mouse, the Iranians long ago concluded that the roaring American tiger was made of paper, safely ignored, even defied.
 
The Foreign Policy article was interesting on several levels.  It’s ostensible purpose was to publicly embarrass Israel.  But its similarity in pattern and purpose with other made in the White House fictions, on par with Israel purportedly having led its naïve and trusting senior partner into the crimes of Irangate in 1985; or the invasion of Iraq in 2002 when history indicates the opposite:  Israel (and the Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, etc.) argued against the war!  In the present instance the article asserts that Israel’s Mossad represented itself as the American CIA in recruiting Pakistani Jundallah terrorists to assassinate Iranians during the Bush presidency.  Of course the article just happened to appear almost to the day Iran said it had irrefutable evidence that the U.S. had organized the hit on that Iranian scientist.
 
The Foreign Affairs article was soon followed by Obama’s 15 January cancelling of Austere Challenge 12, described as the largest training exercise ever between the allies.  Is this another effort to represent Israel as a loose canon, beyond America’s control?  That America’s hands are clean of responsibility and fallout should Israel go it alone?  If Israel is indeed refusing to disclose its options regarding Iran’s nuclear program is this not itself the result of Obama’s failure to inspire trust, that his failed regional diplomacy, his failure to act decisively, to convince Iran, the Arabs and Israel of his willingness to back word with action are themselves the cause and result of universal regional mistrust?
 
Whether American presidents blame Israel for their own failings and failures, or blame Israel for acting as a sovereign nation pursuing its own interests when they conflict with those of the senior partner, “blaming” is a sign of impotence, of weakness.  And weakness, even when national cause for doubt exists, is not something for “the world’s only superpower” to display on the world-stage.
 
But there is another possible explanation for the president’s odd behavior, his apparent “appeasement” of Iran.  Perhaps the president is using Israel to distract from his perhaps hidden agenda.  After all, the American armada IS positioned to attack; he does have 50,000+ troops in Kuwait and the Gulf Emirates; and, thanks to the “now you see it, now not” foil of the cancelled Austere Challenge 12 there are an addition 9,000 US troops already in place in Israel.  And General Dempsey, Obama’s top general, is still schedule to arrive in Israel next week to coordinate Iran policy...

3.

U.S. AND IRAN INCH CLOSER TO MILITARY CONFLICT

By Jeremy Herb

The Hill (Washington, D.C.)
January 16, 2012

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/204429-us-and-iran-inch-closer-to-conflict-


The likelihood of military conflict between the United States and Iran is higher now than at any time in more than two decades, military analysts say, as tensions continue to escalate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and blustery rhetoric.

While full-blown war might not be on the immediate horizon, the conditions for military skirmishes are as ripe as they’ve been since 1988, when Iran laid mines against U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf and the United States destroyed Iranian oil platforms in response.

“The probability of armed conflict between the United States and Iran is higher now than at any point since 1988, and the risk will only increase over the coming year as Iran’s nuclear program continues to develop,” said Matthew Kroenig, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The recent incidents between Iran and the West provide a new backdrop for U.S. policy as Congress returns to the Capitol Tuesday and the 2012 presidential election season heats up.

The House Armed Services Committee is holding a closed-door briefing Wednesday on Iran, according to committee officials.

The presidential race has been poised to be an election on domestic issues and the economy, but Iran could change the political calculus.  The tensions also could threaten the foreign-policy record President Obama has built during his first three years, if Iran were to execute a former U.S. Marine it has sentenced to death, for instance, or if Israel launched a unilateral strike.

“Iran can change the subject,” said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  “Obama may want to make this about domestic issues, and the Republicans may want to make this about domestic issues -- the Iranians can certainly throw a wrench into that.”

Tensions between Iran and the West ratcheted up considerably last month after Iran threatened to close down the Strait of Hormuz in response to potential economic sanctions from the United States and European Union.

The United States said it would stop any attempt to close the strait -- a narrow but vital oil passageway in the Persian Gulf -- prompting Iran to tell U.S. ships to leave the Gulf.

In the past week, relations between the United States and Iran were strained further after Iran sentenced former Marine Amir Hekmati to death for allegedly spying for the CIA.  The United States condemned the sentence and said it was untrue.

Two days later, an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated after a motorcyclist placed a bomb under his car. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused the United States and Israel of being behind the killing, which the United States denied and Israel has not commented on.

At the heart of the dispute with Iran is its nuclear program, which Iran says is to produce energy and the West warns is an attempt to build a nuclear weapon.

Speaking to soldiers Thursday at Fort Bliss in Texas, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the United States is keeping all its options on the table, including military ones.

“Clearly there are those areas that for us are red lines,” Panetta said.  “Number one, we cannot allow them to develop a nuclear weapon.  That’s a red line.  Number two, we cannot tolerate Iran blocking the Straits of Hormuz.”

The United States issued a warning directly to Khamenei that Iran should not close the Strait of Hormuz, according to published reports.

The United States and Israel decided on Sunday to postpone a joint military exercise that was planned for the spring, in a move some Israeli officials said was to de-escalate tensions with Iran, according to Israeli media.

U.S. officials told The Hill, however, that the postponement had nothing to do with concerns about Iran.

“There were a variety of factors at play in this case, but leaders from both sides believe that optimum participation by all units is best achieved later in the year,” said Capt. John Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. European Command.

The prospect of an Israeli strike against Iran to stop its nuclear program has risen as Iran has continued its nuclear production and moved uranium enrichment underground.

Obama spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is traveling to Israel this week to meet with Israeli officials.

Benedetta Berti, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank, said the prospect of a unilateral attack on Iran remains a divisive issue inside Israel.  “The idea of going unilaterally is definitely thought of as a last-resort option,” Berti said in an email.

Barring an Israeli strike or other major change in the situation, Rubin said that the United States is not going to get into a full-fledged war with Iran similar to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“When it comes to an incident, however, in which we shoot at the Iranians and they shoot back at us, I think that’s getting increasingly likely,” Rubin said.   “And that could lead to a slippery slope.”

There are deterrents to stop Iran from continuing to escalate tensions.  Iran’s economy is highly dependent on oil exports, so closing the Strait of Hormuz would amount to an economic death sentence.

Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an adviser to the Pentagon, said the most plausible scenario is that Iran pushes in small steps to drive up oil prices and emphasize its ability to make threats “without triggering the kind of clash with the U.S. that could cost it its Air Force and military production facilities and a whole range of other targets.”

Iran’s domestic elections are coming up in March, with the potential to further upend Iran’s domestic stability, hampered by a devaluing of its currency due to economic sanctions.  Analysts say that Iran could try to create a crisis to tap into the public’s nationalist sentiment.

“It would be foolish to assume, given the power struggles in Iran, that everyone there is going to behave like a rational bargainer,” Cordesman said.