RUSSIA: U.S. SANCTIONS ON IRAN WON'T WORK
By Nasser Karimi
October 30, 2007
TEHRAN -- Unilateral sanctions will not help solve the Iranian nuclear problem, Russia's foreign minister said Tuesday during his second visit to Tehran in two weeks, according to Russian news reports.
Earlier in the day, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off a new round of U.S. sanctions targeting Iran, saying the country would not succumb to pressure from Washington, official Iranian media reported.
Ahmadinejad met with Lavrov to discuss his country's nuclear program, Iranian state media reported, releasing no details of the talks. But Russian media said Lavrov dismissed the effectiveness of unilateral sanctions, an apparent reference to American sanctions announced last week.
"Unilateral actions taken now regarding trade and economic sanctions against Iran won't help to continue collective efforts," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies.
Lavrov's surprise visit to Tehran was his second in two weeks -- an unprecedented move by a Russian official.
Earlier in October, Lavrov accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin on a one-day visit here. At the time, Putin was said to have put forth a proposal to resolve Tehran's standoff with the West over its controversial nuclear program -- a report that Ahmadinejad later denied.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lavrov met his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, and discussed bilateral relations, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported.
Lavrov said he told Mottaki that Iran must work with the U.N. nuclear agency to answer the international community's questions about the country's nuclear program.
He said he underlined the "need for a quick answer to these questions to restore trust in the exclusively peaceful character of Iran's activities in the sphere of nuclear energy."
Russia, which is an ally and business partner of Iran, is building the country's first nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr.
Ahmadinejad, in his first reaction since Washington announced a new set of sanctions, ridiculed the measures saying they showed the "Americans are not able to harm us."
The sanctions ban dealings with a host of companies connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite force that has extensive business holdings and which Washington accuses of arming insurgents who targets American soldiers in Iraq.
The sanctions bar American businesses from working with those companies, but also put pressure on international firms and banks not to deal with them.
The United Nations has twice imposed limited sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Russia, along with China, has resisted a third round of U.N. sanctions, but Moscow has said Tehran must suspend the process, which can be used to produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or a nuclear warhead.
The United States and its allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to build a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran denies, saying its program aims only to generate electricity. Putin has said he sees no evidence Iran is building a weapon.
Russia and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, have been working together to try to find a way to get Iran to abandon enrichment.
The group has offered a package of economic and political rewards to Iran if it agrees to suspend enrichment, a proposal Iran rejected.
--Associated Press Writer Vladimir Isachenkov contributed to this report from Moscow.
MAJOR POWERS EXPECTED TO MEET ON IRAN THIS WEEK
By Arshad Mohammed
October 30, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Major powers plan to meet in London this week to discuss new U.N. sanctions on Iran amid a spat between Washington and the U.N. nuclear watchdog over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The officials, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the matter in public, said they expected the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany to meet toward the end of the week.
Washington and other Western countries suspect Tehran is developing nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is to generate electricity so it can export more of its valuable oil and gas.
Iran has so far spurned U.N. Security Council demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment program -- a process that can produce fuel for power plans or for bombs.
The meeting of the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- was to have taken place two weeks ago in Berlin but China pulled out in protest against the U.S. Congress' plan to honor the Dalai Lama.
Its purpose is to discuss a possible third U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. It was unclear whether the London meeting would take place on Thursday or on Friday.
The world's major powers agreed in late September to delay a vote on tougher sanctions on Iran until late November at the earliest, depending on reports by the U.N. nuclear watchdog and a European Union negotiator.
Russia and China opposed an early move to tighten economic sanctions, saying Tehran should be given more time to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to shed light on its past nuclear activities.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns will represent the United States at the London meeting after talks in Paris, where he arrived on Tuesday, and in Vienna, where he will meet IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Thursday.
Washington slapped new sanctions on Iran last week and recent months have seen somewhat belligerent rhetoric that has prompted speculation of possible U.S. military action before U.S. President George W. Bush steps down in January 2009.
Bush, who recently suggested that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War Three, has said he wants a diplomatic solution but has not ruled out the possibility of using force.
Asked if Bush would seek authorization from Congress if he wanted to attack Iran, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino dismissed it as a "hypothetical situation" and said the United States was determined to resolve the standoff via diplomacy.
"There is no intention of bombing Iran." she told reporters. "We are on a diplomatic track. We are working with our partners in the U.N. Security Council. We have provided them, the Iranians, a roadmap to get to a civilian nuclear program. They have walked away from that. We are hoping they'll come back," she said.
ElBaradei has annoyed Washington by suggesting its sometimes harsh stance toward Tehran was counterproductive. On Sunday, he urged Iran's critics to "stop spinning and hyping the Iranian issue."
U.S. officials said Burns' talks with ElBaradei were designed to emphasize the U.S. commitment to pursuing diplomacy with Iran and to get an update on the IAEA's effort to get greater clarity on Iran's past nuclear activities.
FEAR IS COUNTERWEIGHT TO OVERCONFIDENCE
By Bronwen Maddox
October 31, 2007
Yesterday’s visit to Iran by Russia’s Foreign Minister is not necessarily bad news in the five-year attempt to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions.
Of course, it may be the cementing of an alliance that has been one of Iran’s best tools in keeping sanctions at bay. But the more cheerful interpretation would be that Russia, not keen itself on an Iranian nuclear weapon, is keeping a close eye on the work that Iran insists is merely for electricity.
For all the tension of the past week, as Tehran and Washington spar over new U.S. sanctions, the next event that matters is a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog. The entire drama, since Iran’s 20-year covert program was first uncovered, has moved to the rhythm of the regular reports from the IAEA, but if anything could get Russia and China to toughen their stance, the one due in mid-November would be it.
But the most unfortunate development since August is that the IAEA has chosen to become a player in the negotiations. Mohamed ElBaradei, its Director-General, urged the U.S. at the weekend to ease the pressure on Iran. The best bet must be that the next IAEA report will be generous enough in tone to Iran, whatever the practical findings, that it does nothing to bring Russia and China closer to the U.S.
It is no surprise that Iran’s confidence appears so high. It has a fistful of reasons to be reassured that threats to punish it are flimsy.
The record oil price is one. The recent visit by President Putin (and yesterday’s by Sergei Lavrov) is another. Evidence of China’s similarly valuable support came yesterday, in the rebuff that the Chinese Foreign Ministry gave Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Foreign Minister, when she asked it to support sanctions. No; diplomacy still had far to go, was the answer.
Another strand is the support that President Ahmadinejad received at home after the ungracious introduction he was given at Columbia University, New York, last month; the intended insult backfired, in leaving many Iranians indignant even if they were not supporters of Ahmadinejad.
But the most valuable is perhaps ElBaradei’s own apparent determination to defer the prospect of tighter U.N. sanctions, evident in August when he struck his own deal with Iran about what it had to reveal to the IAEA.
All the same, the attentiveness with which Iran is following the international debate shows that it is not complacent. A third round of U.N. sanctions may look a dim prospect at the moment, but there are many signs that the sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on its own are biting. The latest ones aim to deter Europeans from investing in Iran (which U.S. companies are already barred from doing), by curtailing business with three Iranian banks.
At home, Ahmadinejad may have overplayed his hand in demoting Ali Larijani, the chief nuclear negotiator. Protests by critics, including members of parliament, forced Larijani’s reinstatement for the purpose of international talks, albeit under a different title.
Meanwhile, the U.S. presidential candidates are doing a superb job of confusing the world about the U.S.’s future intentions towards Iran after next year’s elections. They have adopted every position on the spectrum between them, although with a bias towards the belligerent.
That keeps Iran worried, and uncertain, a counterweight to its growing confidence.
Nation & world
RUSSIA'S PERPLEXING IRANIAN STRATEGY
By Thomas Omestad
** In public, Vladimir Putin is backing up Tehran. Is something else going on behind the scenes? **
U.S. News & World Report
October 30, 2007
He is a hard man to figure out, to be sure. Over the past few weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired off a memorable series of comments that, put together, seem all but a declaration of independence from the U.S.-led strategy of pressuring Iran into shutting down its disputed nuclear program. Before and during a historic trip to Tehran last week, he seemed determined to distinguish his approach from that of President Bush. All that would seem to bode poorly for the diplomatic track to which the administration says it remains committed.
And yet, even as he was publicly dissing U.S. policy and promoting friendly ties and expanded Russia-Iran trade, Putin may have been doing some squeezing of his own in private. Moscow appears to be trying to reformulate its role into that of a mediator or go-between of sorts in the stalemate over Iran's nuclear programs. Such a role could, at times, appear outwardly accommodating, even flattering, to Tehran while it injects quieter pressures of its own on Iran to change course.
The emergence of a more active Russian diplomacy with Iran -- particularly one decidedly standoffish from the Bush administration -- could complicate U.S. efforts at the United Nations Security Council to clamp down on Tehran with more sanctions until it agrees to suspend its nuclear fuel work, which U.S. and European officials suspect is intended to develop the capacity for making nuclear bombs. Tehran says its plans are to generate electricity and conduct peaceful research.
At the same time, the new Russian activism has a chance to shake up the prospects for moving Tehran back to the negotiating table -- after it suspends, at least temporarily, its nuclear activities. U.S. officials are closely following Putin's statements and talking with Russian diplomats in an effort to clarify Putin's intentions and strategy. Some suspect that behind his remarks on Iran lie some diplomatic efforts that could prove useful.
From the Bush administration's perspective, Putin's disconcerting remarks on Iran began on October 10 when, after meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- a proponent of more sanctions on Iran -- he argued that "we have no real data to claim that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, which makes us believe the country has no such plans." The Bush administration is convinced that that is precisely what Iran is doing, following years of Iranian concealment of nuclear activities and unwillingness to clear up some key questions on its atomic equipment. After Putin's assertion, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a point of referring to "an Iranian history of obfuscation and indeed lying."
When Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Putin and other Russian officials the next day, he kept them waiting and publicly chided them on a Europe-based missile defense plan. The Russians repeated their opposition to further Iran sanctions for now and said they see the Iran issue differently.
A couple of days later in Germany, where he met Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin criticized the U.S.-led squeeze strategy and, by implication, rumors of possible future military action. "Intimidating anyone -- in this case, the Iranian leadership or the Iranian people -- will make no sense," he said. "They are not afraid, believe me."
Then, at a Caspian Sea-area summit in Tehran -- where he became the first top Soviet or Russian leader to visit since Josef Stalin in 1943 -- Putin ruled out supporting any military strikes on Iran. "We should not even think of making use of force in this region," he said. The Russian leader's visit was hailed inside Iran as a significant boost for a government that has been widely criticized from overseas and formally sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council.
Just last week, Putin deployed his most colorful language to date to slam the sweeping U.S. sanctions targeting parts of Iran's military establishment, including the Revolutionary Guards, and several Iranian banks. "Why make the situation worse, bring it to a dead end, threaten sanctions, or even military action?" he asked. "It's not the best way to resolve the situation by running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand."
Nonetheless, Putin seems to be playing a different game in private. When he visited Tehran, Putin appears to have pitched an idea of some sort for defusing the crisis. Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who has resigned but still participated in recent talks with European officials, called it a "special proposal" but offered no details. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said simply, "We will think about what you have said and about your proposal."
Russian officials remain largely mum on what that proposal is, though Iranian officials have suggested that it might be a suspension of sanctions in return for a suspension of uranium enrichment. Putin is known to be miffed that Tehran so casually rejected his earlier proposal to have the Iranians conduct their fuel enrichment work inside Russia, an idea U.S. officials have noted with favor.
To add a bit more intrigue, a few days after seeing Putin at a hastily arranged meeting in Moscow, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert fueled the speculation that the Russian leader is pressuring Iran. Olmert contended that Putin was willing to block the opening of a Russian-built nuclear reactor in the Iranian town of Bushehr -- a key issue for the West. "I can reveal one detail of my meeting with Russian President Putin last week," Olmert allowed earlier this week. "Russia has decided not to supply nuclear fuel to Iran, in spite of all the declarations and rumors."
Just don't count on the Kremlin to confirm -- or definitively clarify -- just what Putin might have told his Iranian hosts.
RUSSIA FM BLASTS U.S. OVER IRAN SANCTIONS
October 31, 2007
TEHRAN -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized United States sanctions against Iran as "not helpful" after meeting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Tuesday.
He also called on the Iranian leader to be "more active" in allaying the international atomic watchdog's concerns over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
Unilateral sanctions against Iran "are not helpful for the continuation of collective efforts" to resolve the dispute, Lavrov was quoted by Russia's Interfax news agency as saying.
"Russia is exclusively in favor of a peaceful resolution for the international community's concerns over Iran's nuclear program," he added.
The Russian official said he had told Ahmadinejad during their talks to engage in "further and, preferably, more active work with the IAEA to clarify questions concerning Iran's nuclear program."
"We underlined the importance of resolving these questions in order to restore trust in the exclusively peaceful character of Iran's activities in the sphere of nuclear energy," he added.
Lavrov, whose visit was only announced in the morning, arrived in the early evening and went straight into talks with Ahmadinejad over the controversial Iranian nuclear program.
Lavrov's brief trip comes just two weeks after a landmark visit to Iran by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first by a Kremlin chief since World War II. He was not expected to make any statements to the media.
Putin has in recent weeks been increasingly critical of U.S. moves for more U.N. sanctions and unilateral sanctions as well as Washington's refusal to rule out military action against Tehran over its nuclear program.
"Why make the situation worse, bring it to a dead end, threaten sanctions, or even military action," he said last Thursday ahead of an E.U.-Russia summit in Lisbon.
"You can run around like mad people wielding razor blades but it is not the best way to resolve the problem."
Some Iranian officials said after Putin's visit that he made a proposal over the Iranian nuclear program to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However this was never confirmed by Moscow.
The United States and its European allies accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb and are threatening a third set of U.N. sanctions against Tehran to punish its nuclear defiance.
However Russia, a veto-wielding permanent U.N. Security Council member which has close economic ties with Tehran, has repeatedly expressed doubt over the Western claims that Iran's nuclear drive has military aims.
China also issued an unusually blunt statement saying it remained opposed to further sanctions against Iran and insisted diplomacy was the best way to resolve the issue.
"Under the current circumstances we do not support further sanctions, as that would worsen the situation," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.
The White House has recently ramped up its rhetoric against Iran, warning the world about "nuclear holocaust" and "World War III" if Tehran obtained atomic weapons.
But White House spokeswoman Dana Perino sought to calm fears that U.S. President George W. Bush was about to launch a military attack against the Islamic Republic.
"There's no reason for people to think that the president is about to attack Iran. I think that we need to make that clear," she said.
But Ahmadinejad meanwhile reaffirmed that Iran would never give in to the chief Western demand over its nuclear drive -- that it suspends uranium enrichment.
"All the plans to stop the Iranian people have failed and the enemies know that they cannot prevent the progress of Iran," he said.
Putin's lightning one-day visit to Tehran for a summit of Caspian Sea heads of state was hailed by Iran as a major diplomatic success.
But a shadow was cast by his refusal to commit to a concrete date for the completion of Iran's first nuclear power plant, a much delayed project that a Russian contractor is building in the southern city of Bushehr.
Meanwhile, a U.N. nuclear agency delegation headed by deputy director general Olli Heinonen held a second day of talks with Iranian officials on Iran's use of uranium-enriching centrifuges.
The talks are part of a deal Heinonen clinched in August for Iran to answer outstanding questions over its atomic program but the accord has been bitterly criticized by the United States for not going far enough.
WHEN YOU CAN'T DEAL WITH THE DEVIL
Asia Times Online
October 30, 2007
A year later than I expected, the drumroll has begun towards a Western attack on Iran's nuclear capability. Despite the best efforts of Western diplomacy, the "moderate" option in Iranian politics expired last week with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's triumphal consolidation of power.
A combination of economic distress and external threats, Western capitals hoped, would strengthen the position of the loser in Iran's 2006 presidential elections, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and external pressure would undo the decision of the Iranian electorate. At best that would have been a deal with the devil; unfortunately, the devil was not returning phone calls last week.
It never was to be. Iran has only two options: a sickening slide into economic decay and internal weakness as its oil-exporting capacity attenuates, or a regional adventure against the Sunni oligarchs of the Gulf oil-producing states. For the Iranian street, Ahmadinejad's constituency in the slums of Tehran and the Persian hinterland, this is the Shi'ite moment, the once-in-a-millennium opportunity to undo centuries of perceived oppression.
European diplomats woefully concede that Rafsanjani, who maintained close ties to Germany in particular, no longer offers a viable alternative. Arab commentators are watching with alarm developments in Iran, beginning with the dismissal of Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.
Elias Harfouche wrote in the Lebanese daily Dal al-Hayat on October 28, "The unease that accompanied the replacement of Ali Larijani with Saeed Jalili as the head of the negotiating nuclear team was exceptional. Its importance was further reinforced by the comment made by Ali Akbar Wilayati, the former foreign minister and counselor to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the statement of Mohamed Hashemi, the brother of Hashemi Rafsanjani on 'narrowing the decision-making circle' in the executive authority as a result of Ahmadinejad's decisions."
As usual, the American media are slow to grasp how profoundly the landscape has shifted during the past week. Writing in the October 27 Washington Post, for example, David Ignatius argued, quite incorrectly, that Ahmadinejad "faces growing resistance, starting with former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Sources tell me that Rafsanjani's allies have been advising officials in Europe and the Middle East that Ahmadinejad is weak and vulnerable." I do not know what Rafsanjani's allies have been saying of late, but I am certain that their credibility is exhausted.
Ignatius worries that if the United States or Israel were to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, Iran would retaliate through such proxies as Hezbollah and various terrorist operations under its control.
These fears are well-founded. In February 2006, I argued that a few sorties by American aircraft could put the Iranian problem to rest, but that the window for a clean military operation would not last long.
The longer Washington dallies, the more resources Tehran can put in place, including:
-- Upgrading Hezbollah's offensive-weapon capabilities in Lebanon.
-- Integrating Hamas into its sphere of influence and military operations.
-- Putting in place terrorist capability against the West.
-- Preparing its Shi'ite auxiliaries in Iraq for insurrection.
One might add to this complications on the Turkish-Iraqi border, as Iran and its ally Syria have taken the Turkish side against Kurdish rebels, which Iran claims have the covert assistance of the United States.
In early 2006, I predicted "war with Iran on the worst terms," and that is what the West is likely to get. I warned at the time, "if Washington waits another year to deliver an ultimatum to Iran, the results will be civil war to the death in Iraq, the direct engagement of Israel in a regional war through Hezbollah and Hamas, and extensive terrorist action throughout the West, with extensive loss of American life. There are no good outcomes, only less terrible ones. The West will attack Iran, but only when such an attack will do the least good and the most harm."
Rafsanjani's dialogue with Berlin was the last, best hope of the anti-war faction in the West. One winces at the chagrin of the German partner in this relationship, given that Rafsanjani likes the Germans because he admires what Adolf Hitler did to the Jews of Europe. On October 5, Rafsanjani told Iranian television in a clip posted by MEMRI: "Europe resolved a great problem, the problem of the Zionist danger. The Zionists constituted a strong political party in Europe and caused a lot of disorder there. Since they had a lot of property and controlled an empire of propaganda, they made the European governments helpless. What Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews of Europe at that time was partly due to these circumstances with the Jews. They wanted to expel the Zionists from Europe because they were always a pain in the neck for governments there . .&nbps;. Their first goal was to save Europe from the evil of Zionism, and in this they have been relatively successful."
The leading Iranian "moderate," in short, is just as much the Islamo-Nazi as the Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad. Rather than deny the Holocaust, Rafsanjani applauds it. Reportedly, Rafsanjani believes that the threat of military confrontation of the West makes a bad gamble of Iran's nuclear development program, unlike Ahmadinejad, who is happy to take the risk.
Deals with the devil simply do not work, even in the ethically challenged world of foreign policy. The devil will act according to his nature, whatever bargain one attempts to make with him.
My proposed mantra for President George W Bush, is, "There are no good options." To be precise, there are options that are considerably worse for others than for the United States. The use of force against Iran without doubt will make the Iraqi mess completely unmanageable. It will have spillover effects in Turkey, where the electoral majority that supported the Islamists in this year's elections will rise in outrage against the United States and Israel. It may reignite the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Nor should we have any illusions about Iran's terrorist capacities. Western civilians well may pay a heavy price for the excision of Iran's nuclear program in the form of terror attacks. The price may be steep, but it's worth it.
The West has no choice but to attack Iran, because Iran believes that it has no choice but to develop nuclear weapons. Make no mistake: this attack will destabilize the entire region, past the capacity of the king's horses and king's men to reassemble it. The agenda will shift from how best to promote stability, to how best to turn instability to advantage.
1. "War with Iran on the worst terms," Asia Times Online, February 14, 2006.
2. "Hitler wanted to expel Jews," Memri TV, October 5, 2007.
BOMB IRAN, MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SAYS IN NEW POLL
October 30, 2007
Despite President Bush's perpetually abysmal approval ratings, it appears his increasingly hostile rhetoric against Iran has drummed up enough fear of a "nuclear holocaust" or a World War III that a majority of Americans are in favor of a U.S. strike against the country aimed a curtailing its apparent nuclear ambitions, a new poll shows.
The Zogby International survey shows 52 percent of Americans would support a strike on Iran, while 53 percent expect President Bush to launch such an attack before the end of his second term. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is voters' No. 1 choice to deal with Iran, with 21 percent saying they would like to see her take on Tehran from the White House. Republican Rudy Giuliani was voters' second choice, with 15 percent.
Just 29 percent of Americans think the U.S. should not attack Iran, with one in five people unsure about military action. Of those who would support a strike, 28 percent believe military action should wait until the next president is in office, while 23 percent want to see Bush let lose U.S. missiles against Iran.
The poll results were viewed with a "Here we go again" attitude from bloggers chagrined at the apparent lack of lessons learned by Americans as the war launched against another hostile Middle Eastern regime stretches towards its fifth year.
"It is utterly stunning that, after the great difficulties we have clearly faced in Iraq (a situation far from finished, by the way), that an absolute majority would favor a strike on Iran at this time," writes Dr. Steven Taylor at PoliBlog. "Even if we assume that the die-hard 25%-30% who still approve of the way the President is doing his job also are in favor of such a strike, where do the other 27%-22% come from to get the pro-strike total to 52%?"
The support for an Iranian strike coincides with substantial fears of further terrorist attacks demonstrated in the Zogby poll. More than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) believe another terrorist attack is likely on U.S. soil and nearly one-in three believe such a strike will come before 2010.
Polls conducted prior to the invasion of Iraq showed larger majorities of Americans in favor of military action, and around 80 percent of Americans believed Iraq posed a threat to the United States in late 2002 and early 2003.
Don Surber, blogging for West Virginia's Charleston Daily Mail, compared the speculation over a strike on Iran to another showdown over nuclear proliferation nearly half a century ago.
"I was in grade school when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened 45 Octobers ago. I was gung-ho for taking Castro out. Wiser heads prevailed -- in the Soviet Union as well as the United States," he writes. "The security of the world rests on American shoulders. I’d bet against a military strike. There are enough wiser heads on both sides."