Before taking off for Asia Saturday, Nov. 6, President Barack Obama ordered the Pentagon not just to beef up American and NATO military pressure on Iran but to do so as conspicuously as possible, debkafile's Washington and military sources report . At a special White House security consultation last week, Obama said it was time to plant America's military option against the Iranian nuclear threat visibly and tangibly under the noses of Iran's political and military decision-makers. In the last few days, three aircraft carriers, four nuclear submarines and marine assault units have piled up opposite Iranian shores.
Early Sunday, the influential Senator Lindsey Graham (R. South Carolina), member of the Armed Services and Homeland Defense committees, said: "The US should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guards." In an address to the Halifax International Security forum, he declared "They should neuter the regime, destroy its ability to fight back and hope Iranians will take the chance to take back their government."
Our Washington sources report that Senator Lindsey's words were coordinated with the White House and Pentagon to underline the administration's position.
Addressing the same forum, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak was pessimistic about diplomatic engagement halting Iran's drive for a nuclear weapon. "Based on experience and looking at the example which they (the Iranians) are using, which is probably the North Korean example, you can easily see … the objective is to defy, deceive and deter the whole world," he said.
On Saturday too, the Washington Post warned that tensions in the Middle East would heat up in the coming weeks. "While American eyes were focused on the midterm elections, a bitter conflict has continued between the United States and Iran for influence in the Middle East. Iran has put its weight behind Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's bid to stay in power and is said to have created a special task force in Baghdad to pressure Iraqi factions. Iran is said to have cut off covert subsidies to Shiite parties that refused to back Maliki.
After the election furor, President Obama must turn to this test – and discover whether Iran wants negotiations to reach a deal, or to kill time."
Meanwhile, the French carrier Charles de Gaulle with strike force has joined the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Harry Truman and their strike forces in the Persian Gulf.
Three days earlier, Thursday, Tehran issued an unusual communiqué noting that a fourth nuclear submarine had been stationed opposite Iran, without further information.