Friday, January 2, 2009

Bolton: Gaza raids precursor to Iran War

From Press TV, 12/31/08:

Former top US diplomat John Bolton says Israeli strikes on Gaza have ignited a multi-front war which could lead to a US attack on Iran.

Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN, accused Iran of supplying arms and equipment to Hamas and making efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.

"I don't think there's anything at this point standing between Iran and nuclear weapons other than the possibility of the use of military force possibly by the United States, possibly by Israel," Bolton told FoxNews.

"So while our focus obviously is on Gaza right now, this could turn out to be a much larger conflict," said the hawkish US official, adding, "We're looking at potentially a multi-front war."

Bolton made the allegations about Iran's nuclear program after the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which represented the consensus of the 16 US intelligence agencies, concluded "with high confidence" that Iran halted its "nuclear weapons program" in 2003 and that the program remains frozen.

The controversial intelligence contradicted longstanding claims that Tehran was "working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb" and came as a blow to advocates of a military strike against Iran like Bolton.

When asked if Israel would be capable of taking out Iran's nuclear facilities, Bolton said he believed "Israel could destroy enough of Iran's program to give us three, four years, which puts time back on our side to look for a longer term solution."

Israel continues to mass its forces along the Gaza border in preparation for a ground offensive. More than 370 Palestinians have so far been killed in the assaults among which at least 62 were women and children.
Bolton's remarks came as speculation has been rife that an Israeli go-it-alone strike on Iran is in the offing. However, many analysts believe an Israeli attack on Iran would not be possible without a US green light.

Despite Israeli pressure for a military option against Iran, many US foreign policy experts have advised the President-elect Barack Obama to engage Iran with diplomacy -- a move which would not be well-received among powerful pro-Israeli lobbies in Washington.

Israel after five straight days of air attacks, on Wednesday rejected a proposal for a temporary ceasefire in its military onslaught in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli military is also gathering its gunboats near the Gaza port and its ground forces along the border in preparation for a possible ground offensive.

Earlier on Monday, a senior Iranian commander floated the idea that the time has come for Muslims to militarily stop Israeli crimes in Gaza.

"Only the military aid can save Gaza," said Brigadier General Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, Head of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense.


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