Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran
· Military solution back in favour as Rice loses out
· President 'not prepared to leave conflict unresolved'
Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Julian Borger
Monday July 16, 2007
The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.
The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."
Now be sure to get this straight. Al Qaeda is resurging and training in Afghanistan and plans to attack us this summer. We're in deep trouble in Iraq. But Bu$hie's focussed on Iran.
The White House claims that Iran, whose influence in the Middle East has increased significantly over the last six years, is intent on building a nuclear weapon and is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.
Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the source said this week...
The balance has tilted indeed. Iran has let in IAEA inspectors and is negotiating. If Cheneyburton doesn't act fast it will never get a chance to seize those oilfields.
Back to the Guardian:
...The Washington source said Mr Bush and Mr Cheney did not trust any potential successors in the White House, Republican or Democratic, to deal with Iran decisively...
Almost half of the US's 277 warships are stationed close to Iran, including two aircraft carrier groups. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise left Virginia last week for the Gulf. A Pentagon spokesman said it was to replace the USS Nimitz and there would be no overlap that would mean three carriers in Gulf at the same time...
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has said that there are signs of Iran slowing down work on the enrichment plant it is building in Natanz. Negotiations took place in Tehran last week between Iranian officials and the IAEA, which is seeking a full accounting of Iran's nuclear activities before Tehran disclosed its enrichment programme in 2003. The agency's deputy director general, Olli Heinonen, said two days of talks had produced "good results" and would continue...
A peaceful solution? No way Dear Leader would trust that! Where's the profit?