Shrugging off Western sanctions and Israeli recriminations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a starring role in a widely televised spectacle by inserting his country’s first domestically-made fuel rod into the Tehran Research Reactor Wednesday, Feb. 15. The scene came after the announced cutoff of Iranian oil exports to six European countries – Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal. Two hours later, the Iranian oil ministry challenged the announcement, spoiling the show by attesting to differences in high regime ranks.
By this show, Tehran thumbed its nose at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call on the world Wednesday to set red lines for Iran’s nuclear program and denounce its terrorist activity. “If Iran’s aggression is not halted, it will ultimately spread to other countries,” he told the Knesset.
Tehran paused only briefly in its multi-pronged offensive to deny Israeli charges of an Iranian hand behind the bombing attacks on its diplomats in New Delhi, Bangkok and the Georgian capital of Tbilisi this week, in which an Israeli woman was injured.
Tuesday, Feb. 14, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier crossed the Strait of Hormuz into the Sea of Oman for the second time. Unlike the first, an Iranian flotilla shadowed its passage made up of an explosive speedboat, warships with missiles poised ready for launching, a spy plane, a drone and several assault helicopters. Tehran was flexing muscle in the face of US naval might.
The incident passed without a US response.
Wednesday, a white-coated Ahmadinejad was on hand at the Tehran Research Reactor to flaunt Iran’s mastery of the manufacture of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel rods, so bringing its nuclear program substantially closer to the 90 percent threshold for the fissile core of a nuclear warhead.
Then, by unveiling “the fourth generation” of home-made centrifuges with a higher speed and production capacity at Natanz, Tehran made the point that it was not hiding the production of 20 percent enriched uranium in underground bunkers as Israel has claimed. From now on, Iran would carry out the advanced process of enrichment and complete the nuclear cycle in front of the whole world, despite Western penalties and sanctions.
By announcing the cutoff of oil exports to six European countries, Tehran sought to turn the European Union’s oil sanctions against the alliance itself. Only this week, US and Israeli officials claimed that the latest round of stiffer sanctions against Iran were working and is economy was on the point of collapse.
The Iranians were anxious to show that they can afford to pick and choose the customers for their oil and mean to do so. And maybe they can. debkafile’s energy sources note that China, India, Russia, Turkey and South Korea, which buy 65 percent of Iran’s exported crude, have all refused to join the US and European boycott and cut back on their purchases from the Islamic Republic. None have so far taken up the Saudi offer of supplies to replace Iranian oil.
Britain has meanwhile taken advantage of the hue and cry against Iranian terrorist attacks on Israeli diplomats to start a hare of its own, claiming that Iran and al Qaeda have struck a deal for a combined major terror offensive against Israeli targets. British sources report that the al Qaeda strategic brain, Abu Mus’ab al-Suria (nom de guerre of Aleppo Mustafa Abdul-QAdir Mustafa al-Set Mariam), who fought the Assads for three decades and whom Syrian President set free in December, has moved to Tehran.
They say he is the kingpin of the new terror offensive. Therefore, those British sources strongly doubt that Israeli ministers and officials will be able to make good on their pledges to reach the sources of terror.