America and Israel are secretly drawing up plans to deal with an Iran that has acquired nuclear weapons, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.
Teheran’s two arch-foes are preparing for what they have long declared is an unacceptable scenario, as the prospects for air strikes to cripple Iran’s nuclear network fade, and China and Russia undermine efforts to forge an international sanctions regime.
The United States and Israel are sticking publicly to their threats not to allow the Islamic Republic to develop an atomic bomb. But intelligence chiefs and military planners have given warning that Iran has done better at hiding and dispersing its nuclear facilities than previously assessed, this newspaper has been told….
US hawks linked to Vice-President Dick Cheney have argued that a co-ordinated aerial and submarine-launched bombardment could set Iran’s nuclear programme back by five to 10 years.
But Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, who has emerged as a White House counterweight to Mr Cheney, has made concerns about possible retaliation against US forces in Iraq a top priority.
Deepening China-Iran Ties Weaken Bid to Isolate Iran
The rapidly growing relationship between Iran and China has begun to undermine international efforts to ensure that Iran cannot convert a peaceful energy program to develop a nuclear arsenal, U.S. and European officials say.
The Bush administration and its allies said last week that they plan to seek new U.N. sanctions against Iran, after the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iranian officials had given inadequate answers to questions about the country’s past nuclear activities. But U.S. and European officials now worry more about a Chinese veto than about opposition from Russia, which has previously assisted and defended the Iranian nuclear energy program….
Under Pressure, China Agrees to Meeting on Iran Sanctions
Under intense international pressure, China late today reluctantly agreed to attend a meeting with the world’s major powerson Iran’s nuclear program after earlier refusing to take part.
Beijing’s initial position had threatened to force cancellation of a critical meeting to debate new sanctions that the Bush administration hopes to impose on Iran through the United Nations, U.S. and European diplomats said today.
The meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held the week after Thanksgiving. The Bush administration has been pressing the world body to act because Iran has failed to suspend uranium enrichment — a process that can be used for a peaceful energy program as well as to develop atomic weapons.
China’s reversal followed unusually blunt language from the State Department, which yesterday called on Beijing to be more "resolute" after the U.N. nuclear watchdog organization said in a new report that Iran had provided some help with information about its previously secret nuclear program, but that data on its current efforts had been "diminishing" since 2006….