The Debka web site is linked to Israeli military and intelligence circles and often participates in propaganda and disinformation campaigns.  --  In recent days the site has been the source of a spate of anti-Iranian pieces[1,2,3,4] that are being circulated on right-wing web sites; observers like Renaud Girard in Tuesday's Le Figaro are concluding that war with Iran is looking increasingly likely.[5]  --  On Oct. 17, Debka reported that Jewish families in Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz have received letters sent from the U.S. and Europe that tell recipients to try and reach the West with all possible speed.[1]  --  On Oct. 20, Debka blamed Ali Larijani's resignation on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and called the latter a "fire-eating president" committed to a "venture into brinksmanship" in the shape of an "unimpeded drive to go all the way to a military showdown with the United States and Israel over Iran’s nuclear ambitions."[2]  --  Citing no evidence whatsoever, Debka attributed to its "military sources" the view that Iran intends to "no longer rel[y] exclusively on uranium enrichment to attain a weapon, but has also turned to plutonium as an alternative path to a weapons capacity."  --  On Monday, Debka claimed, dubiously, that a deal is brewing between the U.S. and Russia that would mean that Putin had been brought round "to admitting that Iranian missiles are a threat to Europe" and to "its corollary — the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is a threat to the world."[3]  --  Also on Monday, Debka attributed to unnamed "military and intelligence sources" the claim that because of an unspecified "an Iranian nuclear breakthrough" Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is telling French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week that "the moment for diplomacy or even tough sanctions has passed" in the Iranian matter and that only "direct, military action" can now stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.[4]  --  (Truth to tell, there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, but you'd never know it from these articles.)  --  Google searches show that these Debka pieces are frequently reposted on right-wing web sites, spreading their unsourced and dubious claims.  --  And Debka's enthusiasm for its anti-Iranian stories was such that it posted a number of the stories on its web site more than once, under alternative headlines.  --  Mainstream newspaper accounts, meanwhile, reported only on the drive for sanctions, not the allegedly secret calls for military action, but they often convey the notion that a diplomatic settlement is increasingly unlikely.  --  In a commentary published Tuesday in Le Figaro (Paris), Renaud Girard said that "in connection with the Iranian nuclear question a single line is now taking shape, and it is that of confrontation."[5]  --  Why?  --  In Washington, D.C., "George W. Bush, convinced by Cheney, does not want to go down in history as the U.S. president that allowed Iran to become a nuclear military power. . . . [T]he policy of steadfastness with Tehran enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress. . . . [T]he two foreign lobbies that exert the strongest influence on Bush (the Israeli and the Saudi lobbies) are agreed on the principle of U.S. strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities."  --  In Tehran, "Ali Larijani's resignation . . . points to a radicalization of the regime and a concentration of power in Ahmadinejad's hands. . . . By adhering to its precondition for a start to direct negotiations (Iran's suspension of its uranium enrichment program,) the United States has destroyed any prospect of negotiations.  Indeed, Iran believed that if it suspended its enrichment activities (which were declared to have an exclusively civilian purpose), it would no longer have anything left to negotiate."  --  The increasingly likely prospect:  "War, as the result of incomprehension.  War, as the result of an escalation between ignorant and stubborn leaders."  --  While there is much to Girard's analysis, the failure to mention the anti-Iranian Big Lie campaign in Western media makes the "incomprehension" in question of a curiously willed sort....

1.

DEBKAfile Exclusive

WARNING LETTERS DELIVERED TO THOUSANDS OF JEWISH FAMILIES IN IRAN ADVISE THEM TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY WITHOUT DELAY

Debka
October 17, 2007

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=4685

The letters, according to DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources, have been posted to Jewish families in Tehran (where the community numbers some 13,000), Isfahan (under 2,000) and Shiraz (some 4,000). They are captioned: Danger! Danger! Danger! and tell recipients to try and reach the West with all possible speed. Iranian Jews like the rest of the population face grave danger from impending events, the anonymous writers warn.

Wednesday, Oct. 17, President George W. Bush spoke of World War Three if Iran which seeks to destroy Israel gains a nuclear bomb. He said those who helped the Islamic Republic would be held responsible, a broad hint at Russia and China. [NOTE: Bush did not say this.]

The Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s sudden trip to Moscow Thursday, Oct. 18, for one day there and back, and the two hours President Vladimir Putin has allotted for their conversation, tie in with these events.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that the meeting was requested by Olmert after he conferred with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the last day of her Middle East shuttle, and with Washington. The prime minister is seeking Putin’s assurance that Russia will not complete construction of Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr or supply the fuel for its activation.

Sources in Washington and Jerusalem decided to strike while the iron is hot, namely straight after Putin’s return from Tehran and before his final commitment to Tehran, in the hope of gaining his personal pledge to leave the reactor unfinished. This would be an important obstacle to Iran’s nuclear plans.

But our sources in Moscow judge these calculations are unrealistic. If Putin did not show his cards to the Iranian leaders in Tehran, they say, there is no chance of him giving Olmert any commitments. The Russian president is playing the world leader to the hilt. He will emphasize to the Israeli prime minister that Moscow has its own interests in the Middle East, just like the U.S. and Israel.

The letters posted to Iranian Jews, our sources report, are not signed; they were postmarked from different towns in America and Europe and from private addresses so as not to raise the suspicions of Iranian security services.

All the same, some were discovered and confiscated, prompting Tehran to accuse Israel and world Zionist organizations of a campaign to scare its Jewish citizens.

In recent months, Iranian officials angrily held up a new Israeli offer of a one-time grant of $10,000 for every Iranian Jew migrating to Israel, over and above the regular grants for other immigrants. Learning of these incentives, the Iranian authorities not long ago ordered the Jewish deputy in the Majlis, Mauris Mo’tamed, to declare that the Jews of Iran cannot be bought for money and would never forsake their country.

2.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report and Analysis

AHMADINEJAD'S AGGRESSIVE NUCLEAR POLICY PREVAILS IN TEHRAN

Debka
October 20, 2007

http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1308

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has laid down the gauntlet.

Having prevailed over the more pragmatic elements of the Islamic Republican regime headed by supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he and his Revolutionary Guards are challenging the United States to do its worst.

Saturday, Oct. 20, the fire-eating president succeeded in removing the formidable Iranian nuclear negotiator, head of the National Security Council, Ali Larijani, from his path. He then sent the Revolutionary Guards missile and artillery commander, Gen. Mahmoud Chaharbaghshe, to warn that, in the first minute of an attack on Iran, the Islamic Republic would fire 11,000 missiles and mortars against enemy (U.S. and Israeli) bases. The scale of ordnance threatened implied Tehran’s certainty that Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq would join the assault.

DEBKAfile’s Iran sources report that the president’s venture into brinkmanship points to his confidence that neither the U.S. nor Israel can or will dare to strike at Iran’s clandestine nuclear facilities. Khamenei has shown no sign as yet of reining him in.

The Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit last week to Tehran was a disappointment to the clerical rulers. Contracts for the Russians to complete the Bushehr atomic reactor and supply the fuel for its activation were not signed during that visit, although they had been drawn up previously between Larijani and the head of the Russian Nuclear Energy Commission Sergei Kiriyenko in Moscow.

At the last minute, Ahmadinejad, backed up by the IRGC chiefs, put his foot down against Putin’s pre-condition which was incorporated in the contract for a joint Russian-Iranian mechanism to oversee the reactor and guarantee its non-use for weapons production.

Putin made a last attempt to talk Tehran round in a long conversation with the supreme ruler Wednesday, Oct. 17, before he flew out of Tehran.

Initially, there were reports that the Russian president had presented new proposals for solving the crisis, which Khamenei promised to seriously examine. The Iranian News Agency IRNA then quoted Khamenei as saying noncommittally: “We will ponder your words and proposal.”

However, on Friday, Oct. 19, Ahmadinejad made remarks which contradicted statements by the supreme ruler and Larijani. He denied that Putin had brought any new proposals to Tehran on the Bushehr nuclear reactor. This denial had the effect of presenting Larijani as a failure. His efforts to achieve a new set of Iranian-Russian nuclear contracts and a breakthrough for Tehran that would have kept Moscow in the international camp opposed to tougher U.N. Security Council sanctions were shown up as useless.

The Iranian president had manipulated the episode in such a way as to leave the nuclear negotiator no option but to quit.

In contrast to the ultra-radicals, Larijani is described by DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources as a practical diplomat who believed in a compromise that would let Iran continue its uranium enrichment process and develop its nuclear program, up to the point of weapons capability, without taking the final step of actually making a bomb.

His humiliation marks the further rise in Ahmadinejad’s influence and his unimpeded drive to go all the way to a military showdown with the United States and Israel over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In private conversations in Tehran, the president argues that neither is in a position to go to war against the Islamic Republic.

Our military sources stress that the Iranian nuclear program no longer relies exclusively on uranium enrichment to attain a weapon, but has also turned to plutonium as an alternative path to a weapons capacity. The Bushehr reactor is a matter or national pride in Iran, but whether or not it is activating does not affect its military nuclear plans one way or another.

The production of plutonium for weapons is relatively simple and cheap, a fact that was exposed by Israel’s air strike in northern Syria on Sept. 6.

If even Syria can build a small nuclear reactor for plutonium production with North Korean help, there is no reason to assume that Iran has not built an active reactor of this kind and is hiding it underground.

While much has been made of North Korea’s input for Syrian’s nuclear activities, little has been said about Iran’s assistance, which DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources estimate as far more substantial. In other words, North Korea is not the only nuclear proliferator; Iran is consistently violating its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Accord by passing its military nuclear secrets to Syria.

3.

DEBKAfile Special Report

BUSH AND PUTIN ROUGH OUT BREAKTHROUGH STRATEGIC DEAL FOR DUMPING IRAN

Debka
October 23, 2007

http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1309

The first hint that a strategic deal was brewing was dropped by Russian President Vladimir Putin. At a news conference in Tehran last week, he alluded to a shift in the controversy with Washington which might settle his dispute with President George W. Bush on the U.S. missile shield in East Europe.

His comment went largely unnoticed -- except by officials in Tehran, who noted his reference to a possible understanding with the Americans -- though not with Iran.

Then, on Monday, Oct. 22, Bush and Putin talked at length on the phone and made further progress towards an understanding.

The outline of the American role in the deal surfaced in Prague Tuesday, Oct. 23, when U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates suggested a possible delay in activating the proposed U.S. missile interceptor project in Poland and radar station in the Czech Republic -- until an Iranian threat was “definitely proved.”

Gates articulated this concession for allaying Moscow’s strong opposition after he held talks with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Gates added that the U.S. would proceed with plans to build the sites, but possibly wait before putting them in working order.

"We would consider tying together activation of the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic with definitive proof of the threat -- in other words, Iranian missile testing and so on," Gates said.

The proposal has already been presented to the Russians who have expressed interest. Gates described a related proposal that might mean permitting a Russian presence at U.S. missile defense bases, including at the Polish and Czech sites.

U.S. President George Bush spoke a short while later at the National Defense University in Washington. He said the U.S.-led missile defense system in Europe is urgent, but spoke positively about Putin’s offer of missile defense facilities in Azerbaijan and southern Russia. The entire project, said the U.S. president, is “part of a broader effort to move beyond the Cold War” that could lead to “an unprecedented level of strategic cooperation” between Russia and the United States.” He referred to Iran as “an emerging threat that affects us all.”

The Pentagon wants to install 10 interceptor rockets in Poland, linked to tracking radar in the Czech Republic and to other elements of the missile defense system based in the United States.

Bush’s words and the plan outlined by Gates represent a major U.S. concession to Russia and a triumph for Putin’s dogged opposition to the deployment of U.S. missile defense bases in two former Warsaw Treaty nations. The Bush administration can also congratulate itself on bringing the Russian leader round to admitting that Iranian missiles are a threat to Europe; its corollary -- the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is a threat to the world.

As long as the deal is not wrapped up between the two world readers, DEBKAfile’s Washington and Moscow sources say these key questions remain open:

How far will Putin go in his support for an American clampdown on Iran? Will tough sanctions by the U.N. Security Council and the world community be his limit? And what if Iran continues to defiantly press ahead with its nuclear weapons program in the face of a military showdown with the United States? Will Russia then look away?

The Bush-Putin deal is still in the making. Some answers may be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

4.

DEBKAfile Exclusive

OLMERT SOUNDS ALARM: IRAN HAS CROSSED RED LINE FOR DEVELOPING A NUCLEAR WEAPON. IT'S TOO LATE FOR SANCTIONS

Debka
October 22, 2007

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=4701

This is the message prime minister Ehud Olmert is carrying urgently to French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday and British premier Gordon Brown Tuesday, according to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources.

Last week, Olmert placed the Israeli intelligence warning of an Iranian nuclear breakthrough before Russian president Vladimir Putin, while Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak presented the updated intelligence on the advances Iran has made towards its goal of a nuclear weapon to American officials in Washington, including President Bush.

Olmert will be telling Sarkozy and Brown that the moment for diplomacy or even tough sanctions has passed. Iran can only be stopped now from going all the way to its goal by direct, military action.

Information of the Iranian breakthrough prompted the latest spate of hard-hitting U.S. statements. Sunday, Oct. 21, U.S. vice president Cheney said: "Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions.''

Friday, the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen said U.S. forces are capable of operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities or other targets. At his first news conference, he said: “I don’t think we’re stretched in that regard.”

It is worth noting that whereas Olmert’s visits are officially tagged as part of Israel’s campaign for harsher sanctions against Iran, his trips are devoted to preaching to the converted, leaders who advocate tough measures including a military option; he has avoided government heads who need persuading, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Italian prime minister Romano Prodi.

The Israeli prime minister hurried over to Moscow last Thursday after he was briefed on the hard words exchanged between Putin and Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran Tuesday, Oct. 16.

According to DEBKAfile’s sources, the Russian leader warned the ayatollah that the latest development in Iran’s nuclear program prevented him from protecting Tehran from international penalties any longer; the clerical regime’s options were now reduced, he said, to halting its clandestine nuclear activities or else facing tough sanctions, or even military action.

The Russian ruler’s private tone of speech was in flat contrast to his public denial of knowledge of Iranian work on a nuclear weapon. It convinced Olmert to include Moscow in his European itinerary.

Our sources in Iran and Moscow report that Putin’s dressing-down of Khamenei followed by his three-hour conversation with the Israeli prime minister acted as catalysts for Iranian hardliners’s abrupt action in sweeping aside senior nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani Saturday, Oct. 20, and the Revolutionary Guards General Mahmoud Chaharbaghi’s threat to fire 11,000 rockets and mortars at enemy targets the minute after Iran comes under attack.

Our military sources say Tehran could not manage to shoot off this number of projectiles on its own. Iran would have to co-opt allies and surrogates, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and pro-Tehran militias in Iraq to the assault.

DEBKAfile’s U.S. military sources disclosed previously that if, as widely reported, Syria is in the process of building a small reactor capable of producing plutonium on the North Korean model, Iran must certainly have acquired one of these reactors before Syria, and would then be in a more advanced stage of plutonium production at a secret underground location.

5.

Actualité

In English

INCREASING DANGER OF WAR THROUGH INCOMPREHENSION BETWEEN UNITED STATES AND IRAN
By Renaud Girard

Le Figaro
October 23, 2007

Original source: Le Figaro (Paris)

It must be acknowledged that in connection with the Iranian nuclear question a single line is now taking shape, and it is that of confrontation. It is as though two crazy trains were rushing headlong towards each other on the same track, without anyone being able to halt them or divert them onto a different track. The engineer on the U.S. train is called Dick Cheney (the conservative vice president who orchestrated the disastrous attack on Iraq in 2003) and the engineer on the Iranian train is called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (the highly nationalistic and religious president of the Islamic Republic). In English, this is what is known as a collision course.

Why is the U.S. train still racing towards disaster (a bombardment of Iran, which would immediately bring about a blaze throughout the Persian Gulf, as a Pasdaran general has just warned?) Three factors in Washington could explain it. The first is that George W. Bush, convinced by Cheney, does not want to go down in history as the U.S. president that allowed Iran to become a nuclear military power. The second is that the policy of steadfastness with Tehran enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress. The third is that the two foreign lobbies that exert the strongest influence on Bush (the Israeli and the Saudi lobbies) are agreed on the principle of U.S. strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. The Israelis, because they do not believe that the rationale of deterrence would work with such an "enlightened" leader as Ahmadinejad. And the Saudis, because they cannot bear the idea of Iranian hegemony over the Gulf.

The Iranian train is also racing inexorably towards a collision. Ali Larijani's resignation, announced Saturday morning, from his post as secretary general of the Iranian Security Council, points to a radicalization of the regime and a concentration of power in Ahmadinejad's hands. Having hitherto been Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Larijani, a refined, cultivated, and thoughtful man, advocated finding a compromise solution with the West. Neither the United States nor the radicals in his own country gave him the time to devise one and establish it. By adhering to its precondition for a start to direct negotiations (Iran's suspension of its uranium enrichment program,) the United States has destroyed any prospect of negotiations. Indeed, Iran believed that if it suspended its enrichment activities (which were declared to have an exclusively civilian purpose), it would no longer have anything left to negotiate.

In fall 2001 Iran made three gestures to the United States. First, Tehran condemned the 11 September attacks, with the utmost resolve. Next, Iran helped the Northern Alliance to drive the Taliban out of Kabul, at the beginning of November. And last, in December, Iran supported all the U.S. initiatives at the Bonn conference on Afghanistan's political and political reconstruction. Iran was then extremely surprised to find itself featuring on the "axis of evil" (along with Iraq and North Korea) in President Bush's speech to Congress in January 2002. The Bush administration has always waved the big stick at Iran, without ever offering a carrot. It has never been able to devise a policy of consideration, it has never wanted to restore diplomatic relations. In his recent address to the United Nations, Ahmadinejad declared the nuclear question "closed," showing what little importance he attached to Larijani's efforts to find a compromise that would reassure the West about the non-military purposes of Iran's enrichment program. Wrongly, Ahmadinejad does not believe in the possibility of U.S. strikes. He believes that the United States' military might is paralyzed by being trapped in Iraq, whereas the failure to establish peace there has in no way diminished the capabilities of the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The Iranian president is blinded by the popularity that he enjoys in the Muslim world by virtue of his posture as a rebel against "Western diktats." He misinterprets the political support that he seems to have been granted by Putin's Russia, which is increasingly exasperated by U.S. unilateralism. In fact Moscow would have everything to gain from a bombardment of Iran, which would send oil prices rocketing.

Western culture, conveyed via the Internet, is the reference point for the Iranian middle class, who have realized how far the Islamic revolution has set the country back. This population risk finding themselves at war with the United States without having wanted it in the least. War, as the result of incomprehension. War, as the result of an escalation between ignorant and stubborn leaders.