[pjw] NEWS: US making unsubstantiated claims to push war in Iran (NY Times 6/13)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Fri Jun 14 12:45:58 EDT 2019

Hello people promoting peace:

The Iraq Affinity Group is working on a formalized demonstration to oppose 
US war drums on Iran (and Venezuela) but in the meantime the government is 
ratcheting up the misinformation, claiming an Iranian Revolutionary Guard 
boat was seen detaching a mine from a ship in the Gulf of Oman after other 
ships had been attacked. The amount of stupidity it would take for a 
government to be so blatant is about as much as anyone would have to have 
to believe this is a true story. President Drumpf seems to be happy to go 
along for the ride even though he blasted the 2003 Iraq war as being based 
on (similar) lies.

Folks with the American Iranian Friendship Council circulated the below NY 
Times article as well as this piece from Common Dreams quoting journalists 
and activists expressing their doubts:


Agence France Presse reports that oil prices are soaring as a result of 
the tanker attack.


In semi-related good news, the Senate is taking action to try blocking 
Trump's unilateral move to sell arms to Saudi Arabia in defiance of 
congressional restrictions:


As always, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition has a Friday rally tonight 
at 5 PM at the SW corner of Pioneer Square, Broadway and Yamhill. I will 
likely be there with a "No War on Iran" sign.

--dan h.
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

Pompeo Says Intelligence Points to Iran in Tanker Attack in Gulf of Oman
    By Edward Wong     * June 13, 2019

    WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that
    intelligence reviewed by American officials showed that Iran was
    responsible for attacks earlier in the day on two tankers in the Gulf
    of Oman, a critical waterway for the transit of much of the world's

    Mr. Pompeo did not present any evidence to back up the assessment of
    Iran's involvement. The assertion is certain to further fuel tensions
    between the Trump administration and Iranian leaders, which have been
    at heightened levels since early May, when the White House announced
    military movements in response to what American officials have said is
    an increased threat from Iran.

    Speaking at a news conference in Washington, Mr. Pompeo said the
    sabotage against the two tankers was only the latest in a series of
    recent violent acts by Iran.

    "Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to
    international peace and security," he said.

    The rapid escalation of tensions in early May between the United States
    and Iran took place around the time that four tankers were damaged by
    explosions at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz.
    The explosions that occurred in the same area early Thursday morning,
    which forced crews to abandon ship and left one vessel ablaze, were
    similar to the incidents last month.

    Mr. Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, both said
    late last month that Iran was responsible for those earlier attacks,
    though neither have presented evidence. On May 30, Mr. Pompeo told
    reporters that he had seen evidence of Iranian involvement and said
    "these were efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil
    throughout the world."

    Details of the incidents on Thursday have remained murky, as they have
    for the explosions in May. Given the widespread criticism over the Iraq
    War and presentation of faulty intelligence that led to it, the Trump
    administration faces great pressure from Congress, the American public
    and foreign allies to lay out explicitly any evidence of threatening
    actions by Iran.

    Mr. Pompeo said the American government's assessment of Iranian
    responsibility for the attacks was based on an analysis of
    intelligence, weapons and patterns of previous actions. He left open
    the possibility that an armed group in the region tied to Iran might
    have carried out the attacks, saying that no other forces in the area
    have sufficient training or capabilities for the operations other than
    those supported by Iran.

    A United States Navy P-8 surveillance plane flying over the stricken
    tankers on Thursday spotted an unexploded mine attached to the hull of
    the Kokuka Courageous, one of the damaged ships, a Defense Department
    official said. The so-called limpet mine resembled the kind of
    explosive that investigators believe was used against the four ships in
    the attacks last month, the official said.

    The Navy surveillance plane took extensive footage of the attached mine
    -- which crew members on the Courageous also noticed after an initial
    explosion prompted the crew to evacuate the vessel.

    A ship with a Netherlands flag, the Coastal Ace, first responded to the
    distress call from the Courageous and evacuated the crew members.
    Govert Jan van Oord, the managing director of Acta Marine, which owns
    the Coastal Ace, said in a telephone interview that some of the
    responders noticed something conspicuous on the hull of the Courageous.

    "As they conducted the evacuation, our crew noticed an object above the
    waterline on the hull of the tanker," he said, referring to what the
    Navy later judged to be the limpet mine. "We're not military experts,
    so we couldn't identify what it was -- but whatever it was, it was the
    reason for the crew of the tanker to evacuate the whole ship."

    Naval explosives experts were preparing Thursday to approach the
    stricken ship, to secure and to remove the mine, and examine it for
    clues about who attached it to the ship, the defense official said.

    But before they could do so, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
    patrol boat pulled up to the side of the Courageous, according to two
    United States officials who said a Navy P-8 surveillance plane captured
    the encounter on videotape. The crew of the Iranian patrol boat then
    pried the unexploded mine off the hull of the tanker and sped away, the
    officials said.

    "Iran's supreme leader has to carefully calibrate his response to
    Trump's maximum pressure campaign," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran
    expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, referring to
    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "If he responds insufficiently he risks losing
    face. If he responds excessively he risks losing his head."

    Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton have led the Trump administration in taking a
    hard-line stand on Iran. In May 2018, President Trump withdrew from a
    nuclear containment deal that the Obama administration and world powers
    reached with Iran in 2015.

    The United States reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran last
    November.European allies have stayed in the nuclear deal and have urged
    Iran to do so, but President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said last month
    that his country would start leaving parts of it, even though
    international agencies said Tehran had been abiding by all the terms
    until now.

    Mr. Trump has said in recent weeks that he was open to negotiations
    with Iran, though he has made no effort to start talks. And he posted
    on Twitter on Thursday, after the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe,
    made a visit to Tehran, that he thought it was "too soon to even think
    about making a deal."

    Mr. Trump has also said he could take military action, while insisting
    he does not want war. In late May, he announced he was sending an
    additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East, though that was far less
    than what some top administration officials had requested.

    Mr. Pompeo has made 12 demands of Iran that go far beyond the nuclear
    issues. In his talks, he has stressed the need to roll back Iran's
    "expansionist foreign policy" and tamp down the influence of the
    political and military groups in Arab nations that are supported by
    Iran. From his perspective, that includes Hezbollah in Lebanon, the
    Houthi rebels in Yemen and a constellation of armed groups in Iraq.

    "Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful `maximum
    pressure' campaign lifted," Mr. Pompeo said Thursday. He added that the
    administration's policy continues to focus on using diplomatic and
    economic pressure to "bring Iran back to the negotiating table at the
    appropriate time."

    While in Switzerland this month, Mr. Pompeo said the administration was
    ready to talk to Iran with "no preconditions." But he has not defined
    the aims of any negotiations. That statement suggested he might be
    willing to recalibrate the 12 demands he has made of Iran, which
    Iranian leaders say are unacceptable.

    Mr. Trump has said he does not want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Iran
    does not have a weapon now and had not made any moves to increase its
    production rate of nuclear fuel until recent weeks, following the
    imposition of stringent measures against the country by the United
    States. Last month, a senior State Department official said the
    administration's goal was to ensure Iran does not get within one year
    of producing enough fuel to make a nuclear weapon -- which was the same
    red line set by the 2015 nuclear deal forged by Mr. Obama and his

    In April, the Trump administration took measures that some American
    officials warned could prompt retaliation from Iran. The administration
    ended permission for eight nations to buy oil from Iran, meaning those
    nations, which include American allies, would be subject to United
    States sanctions if they went ahead with purchases. The administration
    also designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an arm of the
    Iranian military, as a terrorist organization, the first time it had
    labeled a part of another government at that threat level.

    Then on May 5, Mr. Bolton announced he was accelerating the movement of
    an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the region because of a
    heightened threat from Iran or Arab militias that it supports. Within
    days, European allies and some American legislators who had been
    briefed on the intelligence said the administration was overreacting.

    On May 24, when Mr. Trump announced the addition of 1,500 troops to the
    region, he also said he was declaring an "emergency" over Iran to
    bypass congressional review of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the
    United Arab Emirates. Those two nations are foes of Iran, but the
    countries are not at war. Lawmakers are furious over Mr. Trump's move,
    saying the declaration was simply a pretext to sell arms, and are
    looking into how Mr. Pompeo and State Department officials came up with
    the use of the emergency declaration and conflicts of interest related
    to Raytheon Company, the arms maker.

    On Thursday, after discussions over legislation related to the
    military, several members of Congress insisted Mr. Trump would need to
    get congressional authorization if he ever intended to wage war on

    "Going to war with Iran is not necessary," said Representative Seth
    Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts and presidential candidate who
    served with the Marines in Iraq. "John Bolton and others in the Trump
    administration are trying to drag us into Iran just as they dragged us
    into Iraq, using the same tactics to convince a weak commander in chief
    -- who doesn't have the credibility to say no to war because he dodged
    serving in war himself -- to lure us into conflict again."

    Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington and Christiaan
    Triebert from New York.

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