February 13, 2012

Iran News Roundup 2/13

Netanyahu Accuses Iran of Involvement in Bomb Attacks Targeting Israeli Diplomatic Staff
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah of involvement in bomb attacks targeting members of the Israeli diplomatic staff based in India and Georgia. In New Delhi, a bomb attached to a car injured four people, including the wife of the Israeli Defense Attache. In Tbilisi, police diffused a bomb discovered in the car of a member of the Israeli embassy staff. Netanyahu alleged that these incidents were linked to attempted attacks in Azerbaijan and Thailand, which were thwarted last month. “Iran, which stands behind these attacks, is the largest exporter of terror in the world,” he said. (Reuters 02/13)
In a statement to Iran’s official IRNA news agency, Iran’s Ambassador to New Delhi, Mehdi Nabizadeh, denied any Iranian involvement. He said, “These accusations are untrue and sheer lies, like previous times.” (Jerusalem Post 02/13)
Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, Commentary, and New York Daily News praised the Mujhadin-e Khalq for allegedly working with the Israeli Mossad to conduct acts of terrorism in Iran. (Think Progress 02/13)
Iran Promises Nuclear Announcement in Coming Days
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during events commemorating the 33rd anniversary of the 1979 revolution that ,“Within the next few days the world will witness the inauguration of several big new achievements in the nuclear field.” (The Atlantic Wire 02/11)
There is speculation that the announcement will relate to  operations at the Fordo facility, where centrifuges have already been installed.  (China Daily 02/13)
Iran Blocks Access to Popular Internet Sites
Iran has cut off access to a number of popular websites, including Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo email, Facebook, and a variety of foreign news outlets. While the government has not released a formal statement announcing this measure, some attempts to reach these websites were met with a page in Persian indicating, “Access to this page is a violation of computer crime laws.” (Agence France-Presse 02/13)
Senior U.S. Navy Official in Persian Gulf Says U.S. Forces Can Prevent Iran from Blocking the Strait of Hormuz

In a press briefing at the base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, Vice Admiral Mark Fox, head of the Fifth Fleet, indicated that U.S. forces are prepared to prevent Iran from attempting to close the Strait of Hormuz. Fox stated that he took seriously Iran’s recent threats to close the Strait and he also described a number of steps Iran has taken to augment its naval capabilities in the Persian Gulf.  While Fox asserted that the Fifth Fleet was prepared to deal with any contingency in the region, including a potential conflict with Iran, he emphasized his belief that diplomacy should be the preferred solution for ratcheting down tensions. “So when you hear discussion about all this overheated rhetoric from Iran we really believe that the best way to handle this is with diplomacy… I am absolutely convinced that is the way to go. It is our job to be prepared. We are vigilant.” (Reuters 02/12)

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