About That Bomb--Update 2

As the U.S. continues to press Iran on its "bomb," and helps assassinate another Iranian scientist (o.k., while rescuing all of those fishermen), you have to wonder where we're going with the saber rattling. Secretary of Defense Panetta, according to AP: "[Panetta] says Iran is laying the groundwork for making nuclear weapons someday, but is not yet building a bomb and called for continued diplomatic and economic pressure to persuade Tehran not to take that step. As he has previously, Panetta cautioned against a unilateral strike by Israel against Iran's nuclear facilities, saying the action could trigger Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the region."The comments suggest the White House's assessment of Iran's nuclear strategy has not changed in recent months, despite warnings from advocates of military action that time is running out to prevent Tehran from becoming a nuclear-armed state. Iran says its nuclear program is only for energy and medical research, and refuses to halt uranium enrichment."Juan Cole points out the differences between Panetta and Secretary Clinton on the subject; I'm going to bet Panetta is more accurate than she; he knows more. Or maybe it's a good cop/bad cop routine.The latest assassination in Tehran, WashPost. Secretary Clinton categorically denies the U.S. had anything to do with the assassination and is looking for an understanding with Iran. Haaretz. So then, Who?WHO? Juan Cole does a "circumstantial" analysis of the murder in Teheran and suggests that MEK, the Iranian terrorist group camped in Iraq would be a good bet (I believe this is the group that members of our Congress are trying to get off the State Department's terrorist list). And Cole quotes a third party suggesting that MEK and Mossad are behind the killing. Motives: trying to prevent any negotiation between the U.S. and Iran.Another commentary re-enforcing the "break-up-any-negotiations theory" Jim Lobe.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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