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17 Sep, 2008 15:05

‘U.S. may use Georgian air bases to strike at Iran’

The U.S. military could have plans to use Georgian air bases to launch air strikes against Iran, according to Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin. He pointed out that Georgia would be the perfect base for a potential U

Speaking in Brussels, Dmitry Rogozin said:

“What NATO is doing now in Georgia is restoring its ability to monitor its airspace, in other words restoring the whole locator system and an anti-missile defence system which were destroyed by Russian artillery. Now these systems are being restored as soon as possible. We have unconfirmed information that American ships under cover of himanitarian aid have delivered all the equipment  necessary for the restoration of these systems.”

He noted that there it is impossible that these preparations are designed for Georgia's protection against Russia, since the war in the Caucasus is over and all the security measures in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are being pursued.

“It's done for logistical support of some air operations either of the alliance as a whole or of the United States in particular in this region. The swift reconstruction of the airfields and all the systems proves that some air operation is being planned against another country which is located not far from Georgia. What country could it be? Which country is in the spotlight now? Of course it's Iran, there are no other countries,” the envoy said.

Rogozin also added that if a U.S. military operation against Iran goes ahead, he would have “pity for Georgia, because Iran is certain to defend itself.”

Rogozin called for the U.S. to support Russia's effort to engage Iran in international dialogue. According to him, threatening and pressuring Iran only “gives Teheran more arguments in favour of building some sort of weapons of mass destruction”.

Iran has been in a state of diplomatic conflict with leading world powers over its nuclear programme. The state government argues that it needs enriched uranium for the peaceful generation of electricity. However, Western analysts argue that the program is geared toward weapon production.

The U.S. hasn’t denied that a military option exists to deal with the Iranian issue. This has spawned numerous theories on how and when the U.S. could attack Iran. To read RT’s report on the issue follow the link.

Nevertheless, David Wurmser, a former key national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, has said that President Bush is highly unlikely to take any military action against Iran before he leaves office.

“Two things have to be in place for there to be an attack – and that time has run out, and that diplomacy has run out,” Wursner said in Brussels after a day-long meeting on nuclear non-proliferation. “The feeling to a large extent now is that diplomacy is working, that there is a trend in the regime toward moderation, that pressure is building on the regime.”

The Islamic Republic is currently under three sets of relatively minor UN sanctions. However, the government denies a possibility of folding its nuclear programme.

Iran’s nuclear programme

The Iranian government insists that it is functioning fully in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Treaty’s terms state that a country is allowed to enrich its own fuel to a level suitable for civil nuclear power. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly stressed that the country will not break its NTP obligations. He argues that international pressure on the country amounts to bullying.

The UN’s Security Council is concerned that the same technology used to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes can be used to produce nuclear warheads. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has pointed out that there are two outstanding issues with Iran’s nuclear porgramme. Primarily, Iran has not explicitly clarified its position in relation to studies into nuclear armament. Moreover, it has not allowed extra inspections into all of its enrichment facilities. Nevertheless, there have been no confirmed reports of Iran enriching weapons-grade uranium. U.S. intelligence reports have stated that the possibility of Iran reaching a sufficient level of technology to make a nuclear weapon even by late 2009 is “highly unlikely”.

Ahmadinejad has called the UN’s demand to inspect all of the country’s enrichment facilities “illegitimate”. Time and time again Iran announced that it would not yield to international pressures and its peaceful programme of uranium enrichment would remain unchanged.

Fact file

On September 15 Iran’s air force and units of its missile defence force began military exercises across half the country. The scenario of the war games will see the use of spy planes to collect intelligence on enemy moves. Next, the army is tasked with repulsing a missile attack on Iranian ‘objects and systems’.  In the final phase of the drill, the army of the Islamic Republic practises destroying the ‘most vulnerable areas of enemy territory’.
Two months before the exercises began Tehran tested new domestically-made missiles, among them an upgraded version of the ‘Shekhab-3’ rocket. The missile is capable of reaching Israel and the Persian Gulf, where U.S. military bases are located. The range of the new rocket is more than 2,000km. The distance between Iran and Georgia is about 1,000km.