Iran–United States Relations - 2005–2009: Bush Administration, Second Term

2005–2009: Bush Administration, Second Term

American journalist Seymour Hersh stated in January 2005 that U.S. Central Command had been asked to revise the military's war plan, providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran. He said that the "hawks" in the American government wished to act if EU3 negotiations did not succeed. He stated that a former intelligence official told him, "It's not if we're going to do anything against Iran. They're doing it."

Scott Ritter, former UN weapons of mass destruction inspector in Iraq, stated in June 2005 that The Pentagon was told to be ready to launch an aerial attack to destroy the Iranian nuclear program. He added that the American military was preparing a "massive military presence" in Azerbaijan that would foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran. He also claimed that the American attack on Iran had "already begun".

In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became Iran's president, giving Iran a religious and conservative president. The following month, the U.S. State Department was accused of refusing to issue visas for Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Mousa Qorbani, and a group of senior Iranian officials to participate in a meeting held by the United Nations (UN). According to UN rules, the United States must grant visas to senior officials from any UN member states to take part in UN meetings, irrespective of their political views.

In 2006, the Pentagon created the Iranian Directorate to handle intelligence regarding Iran.

In March 2006, Joseph Cirincione, director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote that "some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran" and that there "may be a coordinated campaign to prepare for a military strike on Iran." Stephen Zunes, Professor at the University of San Francisco and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project, also believes that a military attack on Iran is being planned.

On 8 May 2006, Ahmadinejad sent a personal letter to President Bush to propose "new ways" to end Iran's nuclear dispute. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley both dismissed it as a negotiating ploy and publicity stunt that did not address American concerns about Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad later said that "the letter was an invitation to monotheism and justice, which are common to all divine prophets".

Bush insisted in August 2006 that "there must be consequences" for Iran's continued enrichment of uranium. He said that "the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran." Ahmadinejad invited Bush to a debate at the UN General Assembly, which was to take place on September 18, 2006. The debate was to be about Iran's right to enrich uranium. The invitation was promptly rejected by White House spokesman Tony Snow, who said "There's not going to be a steel-cage grudge match between the President and Ahmadinejad".

In November 2006, Ahmadinejad wrote an open letter to the American people, stating that dialogue was urgently needed because of American activities in the Middle East and that the United States was concealing the truth about relations.

In April 2007, Michael T. Klare stated that President Bush had already taken the decision to attack Iran. He said that Bush's references to Iran in major televised speeches on January 10, January 23 and February 14, 2007, established that he "has already decided an attack is his only option and the rest is a charade he must go through to satisfy his European allies". Klare said that Bush had developed a casus belli in order to prepare public opinion for an attack, focused on claims that Iran supports attacks on American troops in Iraq, claims that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and claims that Iran could become a dominant power in the region and destabilise pro-American governments in Israel, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, thereby endangering oil supplies.

In September 2007, Ahmadinejad addressed the UN General Assembly. Prior to this, he gave a speech at Columbia University, where university president Lee Bollinger used his introduction to portray the Iranian leader as "astonishingly uneducated" and as a "cruel and petty dictator". Ahmadinejad answered a query about the treatment of gays in Iran by saying: "We don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country. We don't have this phenomenon; I don't know who's told you we have it". An aide later stated that he was misrepresented and was actually saying that "compared to American society, we don't have many homosexuals". Ahmadinejad was not permitted to lay a wreath at the World Trade Center site. He stated, "Many innocent people were killed there. Some of those people were American citizens, obviously...We obviously are very much against any terrorist action and any killing. And also we are very much against any plots to sow the seeds of discord among nations. Usually, you go to these sites to pay your respects. And also to perhaps to air your views about the root causes of such incidents." When told that Americans believed that Iran exported terrorism and would be offended by the "photo op", he replied, "Well, I'm amazed. How can you speak for the whole of the American nation?...You are representing a media and you're a reporter. The American nation is made up of 300 million people. There are different points of view over there".

In an April 2008 speech, Ahmadinejad described the September 11 attacks as a "suspect event", saying that all that happened was that "a building collapsed". He stated that the death toll was never published, that the victims' names were never published, and that the attacks were used subsequently as pretext for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. That October, he expressed happiness about the 2008 global economic crisis and what he called "collapse of liberalism". He said the West has been driven to a dead-end and that Iran was proud "to put an end to liberal economy". The previous month, he had told the UN General Assembly, "The American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders".

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