Iran jumped to the front burner today so if you need to catch up fast, here’s what’s been happing for the last few days:
WASHINGTON [MENL] — Iran and Syria have acquired the missile capability to target U.S. interests in the Middle East.
A senior U.S. official said Iran and Syria have developed ballistic missiles that can destroy U.S. targets in Iraq as well as in nations aligned with Washington. The official said both countries have received significant assistance from North Korea, which has sought to sell complete missile systems to the Middle East.
The big news on all the cable News Stations is:
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran and Syria, both locked in rows with the United States, said on Wednesday they would form a common front to face challenges and threats.
“We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats,” Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said in Tehran after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari.
Otari told reporters: “This meeting, which takes place at this sensitive time, is important, especially because Syria and Iran face several challenges and it is necessary to build a common front.”
Syria’s ambassador to the United States, asked by CNN what the common front with Iran entailed, stressed that it was not an anti-American alliance and said Syria was trying to improve its relations with Washington.
“Today we do not want to form a front against anybody, particularly not against the United States,” Imad Moustapha said.
“Syria is trying to engage constructively with the United States … We are not the enemies of the United States, and we do not want to be drawn into such an enmity,” he added.
There is no axis of evil, of course, that was just Bush hate-mongering.
LUXEMBOURG – Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi says his country wants serious discussions with the European Union on Iran’s nuclear programme as well as its relations with the EU.
“We are optimistic,” the foreign minister said after talks with Luxembourg’s deputy foreign minister Nicolas Schmit on the current negotiations between the Islamic Republic and EU nations France, Germany and Britain.
The EU is seeking a binding pledge from Iran not to pursue a nuclear weapons programme in return for improved trade and political relations.
As for the US response, Condi says taking is fine, but the clock is still ticking:
BRUSSELS, Belgium Feb 9, 2005 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put Iran and Europe on notice Wednesday that their negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program cannot go on forever.
Nearing the end of a fence-mending tour of European allies, Rice said the United States had set no deadline on the Iran talks, but she also said the Bush administration had not changed its view that the United Nations should step in to get tougher on Iran.
In Washington, President Bush said the Iranians needed to know that the free world was working together to send a clear message: Don’t develop a nuclear weapon.
“And the reason we’re sending that message is because Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a very destabilizing force in the world,” Bush said.
“I think the message is there,” Rice said at a news conference at NATO headquarters. “The Iranians need to get that message,” she said, adding that Tehran should know that “there are other steps” the international community can take.
The administration has long viewed the European process as futile and thinks Iran is stalling.
“They need to hear that the discussions that they are in with the Europeans are not going to be a kind of way station where they are allowed to continue their activities, that there’s going to be an end to this and that they are going to end up in the Security Council,” Rice said earlier Wednesday.
Those remarks, in an interview with Fox News, also urged Britain, France and Germany to put pressure on Iran. Rice has spoken in tough terms about Iran during this trip, but had been careful to leave any criticism of the Europeans unsaid.
As usual, the US wants actions and Europe is settling for appeasement.
Iran confirms the drone story form last week and kicks it up a notch:
TEHRAN, Iran Feb 16, 2005 — Iran’s intelligence chief on Wednesday accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the unmanned surveillance crafts.
Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi comments backed a report in The Washington Post on Sunday that quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying the drones have been flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs.
“U.S. spying activities over Iranian airspace have been going since a long time ago,” Yunesi told reporters.
“Most of the shining objects that our people see in Iran’s airspace are American spying equipment used to spy on Iran’s nuclear and military facilities,” the minister told reporters.
He said they would not reveal anything the United States doesn’t already know.
“Our nuclear activities are open and very transparent. Our military activities are all legal,” Yunesi said. He spoke while visiting a prison for dissidents under the shah that has been turned into a museum.
In London, meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Iran will have the knowledge to build nuclear weapons within six months.
“This is not only Israel’s problem, but an international problem, as the long-range missiles can reach Europe,” Shalom said.
A nuke powered Iran with missiles to reach Europe can’t happen. As usual, the United States is more concerned about the future of Europe then they are themselves. — A phenomena we in the States don’t understand.
We’re facing another resolution 1441 type show down, wherein Bush is put in the, frankly bizarre, position of urging the Europeans denounce a nuclear Iran with missiles that can reach them… Logic would dictate that Europe should be asking us for help stopping Iran.. But who said the europeans were logical?