picture released by Iranian Fars News Agency
The repercussions from the assassination of Iranian nuclear expert Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan are rippling thru diplomatic circles even as thousands of Iranians mourn. With tensions high and the US denying any involvement in the slaying, the U.S. has– are you sitting down?– warned Israel against striking Iran over U.S. objections.
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.
US officials are claiming the “Israeli response has been noncommittal.” While Israeli officials say “Mr. Netanyahu’s government continues to closely coordinate with the U.S”. Coordinate? Are they trying to tie my country into another war?
So I’m curious: when the US warns Israel, are there ever any consequences for Israel implied or even mentioned? Any teeth in those warnings?
Meantime, warning communiques are flying back and forth between the US and Iran thru the Swiss embassy in Tehran (the only official diplomatic channel between the two countries). The WSJ reports that U.S. officials are warning Iran’s leaders, against “provocative actions” thru “direct messages.” Both the New York Times and AP report that the American warnings are that Iran must not take any actions threatening the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. The Times says one fifth of the world’s daily supply goes through the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s got some accusing messaging of its own. It blames the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan on the CIA, Israel and the UK’s MI6:
The Islamic Republic has blamed the violent death of Roshan on the CIA, Israel and now MI6.
[snip] Iran sent a letter to the Swiss embassy in Tehran….. saying that CIA-led operations in the Islamic Republic are known, and blaming the US for supporting “terrorist groups against Iran.”
Tehran also sent a letter to the British Foreign Ministry, claiming British intelligence operations aided in the killing of the 32-year-old Roshan in a car bomb.
The letter cited a quote by Foreign Intelligence Service Head (MI6) John Sawers, who said that the UK was beginning intelligence operations against Iran, according to IRNA.
Reuters quotes directly from Iranian state TV:
“We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a letter handed to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, state TV reported.
“The documents clearly show that this terrorist act was carried out with the direct involvement of CIA-linked agents,” it added.
One other thing. And this might be the most important element of all in this drama. The WSJ article parrots many other news organizations that over the day or so have framed an upcoming visit to Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect nuclear sites as something that developed lately: Iran has “agreed to host a delegation.” As if this visit is something new or a result of stepped-up pressure towards Tehran.
But as previously reported– Iran issued the invitation to nuclear inspectors on December 14th, one month ago today.
That’s not all that was in process. Iran’s Press TV:
“The latest terrorist attack comes as Iran has reached an agreement with the P5+1– Britain, China, France, Russian, and the United States plus Germany– to hold negotiations in Turkey.”
In other words, the assassination occurred right after Iran had already scheduled both IAEA inspections and negotiations with P5+1. Or as Alex Kane wrote yesterday, here’s the headline you aren’t seeing in the mainstream press: Iran wants talks.