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U.S. Nuclear Submarine enters Persian Gulf after Pompeo blames Iran for Rocket Attack on U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

Tension is heating up in the Persian Gulf following a rocket attack on the American Embassy in Baghdad that left a civilian dead.

The nuclear sub sends a clear message to Iran, but clearly Iran has been emboldened by its expectation of a Biden administration that will enable billions to flow once again into its coffers, facilitate its nuclear arsenal build-up, expand its influence in the Middle East, and further enable it to terrorize its targets abroad, including Iranian dissidents who should be safe in the West.

“Israeli Submarine Reportedly Crossed Suez in ‘Message’ to Iran as US Warships Enter Persian Gulf,” by Svetlana Ekimenko, Sputnik News, December 22, 2020:

A US nuclear-powered submarine entered the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz on 21 December as part of Washington’s latest deterrence mission against Iran as tensions spiked after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iranian-backed militias for a rocket attack on the American Embassy compound in Baghdad on Sunday.

An Israeli Navy submarine visibly crossed the Suez Canal above water last week in what is being seen as a show of force aimed at Iran, Kan News, a public broadcaster, reported on Monday night.

Arab intelligence officials had reportedly confirmed to Kan News that the IDF Navy submarine surfaced and faced the Persian Gulf, which lies on the other side of Saudi Arabia, in a deliberate act, approved by Egypt, and purportedly intended to ‘send a message’ to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

There has not been any official comment from the Israel Defence Forces, with the IDF saying it does not respond to “reports of this kind.”

Earlier, on 21 December IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi voiced a warning to Tehran against attacking Israel, vowing that the Jewish state would retaliate forcefully against any aggressive moves.

“Recently, we have heard increased threats from Iran against the State of Israel. If Iran and its partners, members of the radical axis [Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups], whether in the first circle of states or the second, carry out actions against Israel, they will discover their partnership to be very costly,” Kohavi was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying at a military ceremony. He added:

“The IDF will forcefully attack anyone who takes part, from near or far, in activities against the State of Israel or Israeli targets. I am saying this plainly and am describing the situation as it is — the response and all the plans have been prepared and practised.”
‘Message to Iran’

The reported move by the IDF Navy comes as a similar manoeuvre was undertaken on Monday by a US submarine. The US Navy confirmed that the guided-missile submarine USS Georgia entered the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz on 21 December, accompanied by two American warships, the guided-missile cruisers USS Port Royal (CG 73) and USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), amid heightened tensions with Iran.

​A US Navy official confirmed to Fox News that the latest movements in the Persian Gulf had been “long planned” ahead of the approaching anniversary of the killing of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, in Iraq on 3 January 2020 by an American drone.

According to the American official, the manoeuvres were not in response to the rocket attack on the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on Sunday.

According to a statement from the US Navy, accompanied by photos of USS Georgia at the surface, the vessel can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 66 special forces soldiers.

The Navy warned that the military move seeks to demonstrate “the United States’ commitment to regional partners and maritime security with a full spectrum of capabilities to remain ready to defend against any threat at any time.”

US military officials have been apprehensive of a possible attack by Iran to avenge the assassination of Soleimani in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in Iraq in early January.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Chief Commander, Hossein Salami, said in September on the guard’s website that Tehran will avenge the US killing of its top commander General Qasem Soleimani by targeting those involved, in an “honourable” retaliation.

Spike in Iran Tensions
The show of force in the Persian Gulf comes amid heightened tensions with Iran after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid the blame with Iranian-backed militias for a rocket attack on the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on 20 December.

The attack left at least one local civilian dead, while no embassy personnel were killed or injured, according to NPR, which cited US diplomatic sources….

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Iran: ‘We have no other enemy in the region except for America’

The Iranian Islamic regime has been empowered, emboldened, legitimized in its nuclear aspirations, and financed by Barack Hussein Obama. Yet it still considers the United States its chief enemy. One would think that Obama and the Washington establishment would learn from this. One would be wrong.

“Iran Threatens to Block U.S. Passage in Persian Gulf,” by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, May 9, 2016 1:12 pm

…Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned in a recent Persian-language interview that the Islamic Republic would not hesitate to block U.S. entry to the Strait of Hormuz, which is the only passage from the Persian Gulf to the open seas….

“The [Americans] believe that our navy is dangerous. Indeed, that is true,” Salami was quoted as saying in a Farsi-language interview with Iranian state-controlled television that was subsequently translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors regional reports.

“In my view, this is the first time that the Americans have assessed the might of our navy correctly,” Salami continued. “If the Americans want to level threats against us, we can be very dangerous to them, as we have declared. They are aware of our tremendous might. We have increased and expanded our naval might, in order to overcome the military might of superpowers like America.”…

“We warn America, its partners, and its allies in the region that if they decide to use the language of threats against us, we will enforce the article on innocent passage in the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and we will prevent the passage of any ship or naval vessel that threatens us,” he said. “If they threaten us, this is what will happen, and we will take whatever steps are necessary.”

“After all,” Salami added, “we have no other enemy in the region except for America. The other countries and governments are not our enemies, and we are not theirs. Of course, they do not even have the potential to be our enemy.”

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This column is co-authored with Ilana Freedman who is a veteran intelligence analyst and specialist in counter-terrorism. Ilana is Editor of FreedmanReport.com.

When we posted late Monday night, February 23, 2015, on breaking news about the phased deal resulting from bilateral discussions between U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, we knew from our sources that more shoes would be likely to drop. Last night we received information from these reliable sources on the extent to which the Administration had strayed from its original mandate. The information was:

  • Secretary of State John Kerry is poised to sign a secret Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the U.S. and Iran that was completed by negotiators on Saturday, February 14.
  • The State Department has received a decision from Eric Holder’s Department of Justice that the MoU does not require approval by the U.S. Senate in the Constitutionally defined process of Advise and Consent for treaties between the United States and other nations, and that therefore Congress will not be consulted.
  • The agreement does not cover the subject of inspections, removing the requirements of having inspections at any of the sites covered by the memorandum.
  • The agreement will allow Iran to have 10,000 enhanced centrifuges that will increase their nuclear program capacity by upwards of 50%.
  • Of the 10,000 centrifuges allotted, all of Iran’s 6,000 existing centrifuges will be converted to the enhanced, next generation versions. The conversion can begin immediately after the agreement is signed. This will enable Iran to achieve a nuclear threshold state in less than two years. The balance of 4,000 centrifuges will, according to our sources, be supplied by Russia.
Alireza Jafarzadeh Deputy Director of Natioal Council of Reskistance of Iran National Press Club  @-24-15 Source AFP

Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director, Washington Office of NCRI, National Press Club, Feb. 24, 2015.

It is not known whether other Iranian nuclear sites will likewise fall under this inspection exemption, including military test sites like Parchin and the secret parallel Lavizan site, which was disclosed in Washington on Tuesday, February 24th by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a National Press Club briefing. At the NPC briefing, Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of the NCRI’s Washington D.C. office, reported on a secret test site which has been previously identified in reports of the Washington, D.C. based, Institute for Science and International Security.

“Despite the Iranian regime’s claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent … it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3,” he said.  Jafarzadeh said the site was hidden in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.

According to the presentation, the complex was described as a facility 164 feet underground. The Lavizan-3 site was apparently constructed between 2004 and 2008 and has underground labs connected by a tunnel, and lead-lined doors to seal out radiation leaks.  The facility itself is heavily shielded from radiation and insulated against noise and radiation leaks to avoid detection.

“Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced… centrifuge machines at this site,” Jafarzadeh said.

The NCRI called the existence of the site “a clear violation” of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as UN resolutions and an interim November 2013 deal struck with the P5+1 group, he said.

When asked about the NCRI findings at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the bi-lateral discussions with Iran, Secretary Kerry commented:

That U.S. officials knew of charges related to the site prior to this week, but that “it has not been revealed yet as a nuclear facility.”

“It is a facility that we are well aware of, which is on a list of facilities we have,” the Secretary of State said during a Capitol Hill budget hearing on Wednesday morning. “I’m not going to go into greater detail. . . .But these things are obviously going to have to be resolved as we go forward.”

Rep. Brad Sherman, ranking Democrat on the House Affairs Committee replied to Kerry:

 “The MEK sometimes gives us accurate information.”

“They are the ones that told the world about the Iranian nuclear program,” Mr. Sherman said. “They now say that there’s a secret facility at Lavizan-3.”

A credible independent expert monitoring Iran’s nuclear program raised questions about the NCRI findings.  David Albright of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security commented in a USA Today article, February 27, 2015:

“The basic story raises questions about its authenticity. They may have answers but the questions raise further doubts,” Albright said. “The claims are so controversial that any manipulated evidence casts doubt on the whole story.”

The matter of possible violations of the P5+1 interim agreements, the lack of inspections of military applications facilities like Parchin, the Arak heavy water reactor and the Lavizan-3  site near Tehran underlines the evidence of Iran’s  retention of significant uranium enrichment  centrifuge capabilities under the suggested 10 year phase deal the Administration announced  earlier this week.  It begs the question of why any enrichment capabilities are provided to Iran under the proposed arrangement, given that the principal use of centrifuges is for enrichment of uranium into fissile materials for bomb making.

That was a point made by Dan Diker, executive producer of the Voice of Israel “National Security” program during a Middle East Round Table discussion on 1330am WEBY Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, “Your Turn” with co-hosts Mike BatesJerry Gordon of the NER and Shoshana Bryen , senior director  of the Washington, D.C. based Jewish Policy Center.

Diker of the VOI noted:

The notion that Iran would be able to enrich any uranium is completely unacceptable.  The civilian nuclear programs around the world hosted by Canada and other western countries have nothing to do with centrifuges.  They are just not part of the nuclear file.  Many countries want to have peaceful civilian nuclear power.  The notion that the Iranians would claim that they need centrifuges to produce peaceful nuclear power is an absurdity.  The fact that the P5+1 have allowed any uranium to be enriched is an extremely dangerous proposition.  That is the message that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to bring to the American people and by extension to the world community.

As to why President Obama and Secretary Kerry would sanction the phased program, Bryen of the JPC suggested:

“[The President’s] thinking appears to be that ten years from now the Mullahs will have fallen, young Iranian democrats will have taken over, and it will be OK.  The big piece of this that he missed is that the Mullahs only represent one part of the Iranian body politic and that is the religious part. Iran is also Persian and Persians are empire-oriented.  Even if we get rid of the Mullahs, even if we get rid of the religious basis for governance in Iran and we have secular people, secular people in Persia believe in a Persian Empire. If we kick this can down the road ten years and the Mullahs are gone, Obama thinks that will be a good thing. I’m not sure that’s true.”

Listen to the February 24, 21015 1330am WEBY Middle East Round Table discussion on the Iranian nuclear program: Segment 1Segment 2Segment 3Segment 4.

An article based on the 1330am WEBY Round Table program will be published in the March 2015, NER.

The WEBY panel will also be heard on a separate Voice of Israel “National Security” program, Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 1PM Israel Standard Time ( 6:00 AM EST in the U.S.).  A sound cloud of that VOI broadcast will also be available on March 1st.

Iran’s provocative activities during the so-called Great Prophet-9 maneuvers this week raised questions about the untimely demonstrations of force directed at the US Fifth Fleet presence in the Persian Gulf. The first episode was the destruction by Iranian cruise missiles on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 launched at a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier as a target near the international oil/gas choke point, the Straits of Hormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.  Watch the video, here.

Then on Friday, February 27, 2015, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy announced the successful launch of a cruise missile from a submerged Ghadir midget-submarine with a range of 150 miles. Watch the video, here.   Sepah news service quoted Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of IRGC-N saying:

The new weapon would be critical in any future naval war against the U.S.

“The new weapon will have a very decisive role in adding our naval power in confronting threats,” he was quoted as stating in Sepah News.

Iran’s latest operations in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz raises many questions. Why mount exercises in which a mock US aircraft carrier is destroyed by the Iranian navy? Or launch cruise missiles designed to take out a US naval destroyer just as the US is about to give them everything they want without a shot fired?  It may be a show of arrogance, a finger in the eye of the Obama administration (which it believes to be weak and foolish), or a move beyond the MoU into a new level of saber rattling to show its neighbors the seriousness of its ambitions. Or it might be all three, a typical multi-dimensional Persian chess play by the IRGC.

What the US must learn – and fast – is that this is not an enemy one can toy with. As in most Middle East politics, the weak are despised and the game goes to the powerful. As the secrets of Obama’s secret negotiations are revealed (or leaked), and the truth comes out about our feckless policies of negotiations and appeasement, the outcome is likely to be devastating for the region and the world.  Iran revels in its possible conquest of American might and moves a giant step closer to achieving its nuclear ambitions with America’s assistance – and blessings.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.