Target: Iran

Like Bush's invasion of Iraq, an attack on Iran would violate international and U.S. law. The U.N. Charter prohibits the use of military force except in self-defense or with the approval of the Security Council. Iran, which has not attacked any country for 2,000 years, hasn't threatened to invade the United States or Israel. Rather than protecting Israel, U.S. or Israeli military force against Iran will endanger Israel, which would invariably suffer a retaliatory attack.

In making its case against Iran, the administration points to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's alleged comment that Israel should be wiped off the map. But this is an erroneous translation of what he said. According to University of Michigan professor Juan Cole and Farsi language analysts, Ahmadinejad was quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, who said the "regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Cole said this "does not imply military action or killing anyone at all." Journalist Diana Johnstone points out the quote is not aimed at the Israeli people, but at the Zionist "regime" occupying Jerusalem. "Coming from a Muslim religious leader," Johnstone wrote, "this opinion is doubtless based on objection to Jewish monopoly of a city considered holy by all three of the Abramic monotheisms.

The confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program has been simmering for more than five years. These are some of the key flashpoints.

August, 2002: Iranian exiles say that Tehran has built a vast uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak without informing the United Nations.

December, 2002: The existence of the sites is confirmed by satellite photographs shown on U.S. television. The United States accuses Tehran of "across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction." Iran agrees to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

June, 2003: IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei accuses Iran of not revealing the extent of its nuclear work and urges leaders to sign up for more intrusive inspections.

October, 2003: After meeting French, German and British foreign ministers, Tehran agrees to stop producing enriched uranium and formally decides to sign the Additional Protocol, a measure that extends the IAEA's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. No evidence is produced to confirm the end of enrichment.

November, 2003: Mr. ElBaradei says there is "no evidence" that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. The United States disagrees.

February, 2004: An IAEA report says Iran experimented with polonium-210, which can be used to trigger the chain reaction in a nuclear bomb. Iran did not explain the experiments. Iran again agrees to suspend enrichment, but again does not do so.

March, 2004: Iran is urged to reveal its entire nuclear program to the IAEA by June 1, 2004.

September, 2004: The IAEA orders Iran to stop preparations for large-scale uranium enrichment. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell labels Iran a growing danger and calls for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions.

August, 2005: Hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is installed as Iranian President as Tehran pledges an "irreversible" resumption of enrichment.

Jan. 10, 2006: Iran removes UN seals at the Natanz enrichment plant and resumes nuclear fuel research.

February, 2006: The IAEA votes to report Iran to the UN Security Council. Iran ends snap UN nuclear inspections the next day.

July 31, 2006: The UN Security Council demands that Iran suspend its nuclear activities by Aug. 31.

Aug. 31, 2006: The UN Security Council deadline for Iran to halt its work on nuclear fuel passes. IAEA says Tehran has failed to suspend the program.

Dec. 23, 2006: The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously adopts a binding resolution that imposes some sanctions and calls on Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities and to comply with its IAEA obligations.

March 24, 2007: The Security Council unanimously approves a resolution broadening UN sanctions against Iran for its continuing failure to halt uranium enrichment. Iranian officials call the new measures "unnecessary and unjustified."

April 10, 2007: Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs says Iran will not accept any suspension of its uranium-enrichment activities and urges world powers to accept the "new reality" of the Islamic republic's nuclear program.

May 23, 2007: The IAEA says in a new report, issued to coincide with the expiration of a Security Council deadline for Tehran, that Iran continues to defy UN Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment and has expanded such work. The report adds that the UN nuclear agency's ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran has declined due to lack of access to sites.

Oct. 24, 2007: The United States imposes new sanctions on Iran and accuses the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps of spreading weapons of mass destruction.

Sources: BBC, Reuters, Financial Times, Radio Free Europe

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Target: Iran

Despite continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran. In addition to nuclear installations, other likely targets include ballistic missile sites, Revolutionary Guard bases, and naval assets.

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Syria: Earlier this year, Israel bombed a site in Syria's Deir ez-Zor region that it suspected was part of a nascent nuclear program.

Osirak: Israel in 1981 had its aircraft bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor before it became operational.

Natanz: Believed to be Iran's primary uranium-enrichment site and a key target of any attack.

In simple terms if the US attacks Iran they (the US) are the bad guys... do we, a western nation, want to support the bad guys?

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