Iran’s nuclear threat and Israel’s possible response remain important news items to watch. Here are a few recent news reports about the Iranian situation.
As a follow-up to our posts “Will Israel Attack Iran Before November?” and “Strait of Hormuz: A Dangerous Sea Gate Gets More Dangerous,” here are some recent news reports to watch.
New EU sanctions announced
BBC reported Oct. 15:
“EU member states have announced a new package of sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
“Foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg ‘significantly broadened EU restrictive measures,’ focusing on Iranian banks, trade and gas exports, officials said.
“The ministers reiterated their ‘serious and deepening concerns’ over Iran’s nuclear activities and their commitment to ‘work for a diplomatic solution.’
“They suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, something it denies.
“Analysts say the unilateral sanctions announced by the US and EU, as well as those imposed by the UN Security Council, have done significant damage to the Islamic Republic’s economy.
“Earlier this month, riots broke out when Iran’s currency, the rial, plunged to new lows against the dollar, according to local currency exchange websites, having lost 80% of its value since the start of the year. …
“‘The objective of the EU remains to achieve a comprehensive, negotiated, long-term settlement which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, while respecting Iran’s legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under the Non-Proliferation Treaty,’ the EU statement said.”
Iran remains belligerent in the air
Iranian leaders have continued to boast about their military technology and chinks in Israel’s defenses in the wake of the drone shot down over Israel Oct. 6. According to The Sunday Times:
“An Iranian drone beamed back live images of secret Israeli military bases in a security debacle that has raised questions about the Jewish state’s air defences.
“The drone, which was airborne for three hours before being intercepted by an F-16 jet, is believed to have transmitted pictures of preparations for Israel’s biggest joint military exercise with the US army, which began last week, as well as ballistic missile sites, main airfields and, possibly, its nuclear reactor in Dimona.”
The Jerusalem Post reported Oct. 14:
“Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Sunday boasted of his country’s ‘capabilities’ and claimed Hezbollah had a ‘natural right’ to fly drones over Israel—following the flight of a hostile unmanned aircraft into Israeli airspace earlier this month.
“‘The Islamic Republic’s capabilities are very high, and are in support of the Islamic ummah [collective nation],’ Vahidi, a former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, said at a ceremony to inaugurate new military production units, alluding to Iran’s continued backing of Hezbollah. …
“Hezbollah’s activities had ‘shown the weakness of the Zionist Regime’s Iron Dome,’ Vahidi added. …
“Also on Sunday, the commander of Iran’s Khatam-ol- Anbiya Air Defense Base announced the development of a new domestically built unmanned aerial vehicle with bombing capabilities.”
And on the sea
The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel also reported on a possible plan by Iran to create an oil spill in the Persian Gulf:
“Iran could be planning to create a vast oil spill in the Strait of Hormuz, according to a top secret report obtained by Western intelligence officials. The aim of the operation is to both temporarily block the vital shipping channel and to force a suspension of Western sanctions. …
“The goal of the plan seems to be that of contaminating the strait so as to temporarily close the important shipping route for international oil tankers, thereby ‘punishing’ the Arab countries that are hostile to Iran and forcing the West to join Iran in a large-scale cleanup operation—one that might require the temporary suspension of sanctions against Tehran.
“Western intelligence experts speculate that Jafari’s planned operation is an expression of growing frustration. Contrary to claims made by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in an interview with SPIEGEL last week, the embargo imposed on Tehran is causing far more than ‘discomfort.’ Iran derives more than 50 percent of its government revenue from oil exports, which declined from about 2.4 million barrels a day in July 2011 to about 1 million barrels in July 2012. But Iran has only cut back production by less than a quarter, because of the technical complexity and expense involved in temporarily capping wells. …
“The ‘Murky Water’ sabotage plan is currently thought to be in the hands of religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He makes the final decisions.”