PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. -- Here in the Carolina Lowcountry, there is considerable consternation about this week's meeting in Switzerland between U.S. and Iranian diplomats. Such confusion is understandable, given the longstanding Bush administration policy against such meetings, recent events in that part of the world, and the way in which the State Department and White House announced the July 19 get-together. In short, what has been happening in that part of the world and what Washington is saying now just don't match. And that's very dangerous.
Last summer, the government of Israel began significantly improving measures to protect their civilian population. Civil-defense enhancements include new bomb shelters, stockpiling food and water, distributing upgraded chemical-biological protective equipment, radiation detectors, and drills so civilians know where to go and when in the event of an attack. Though these preparations have been discussed and debated openly in the Israeli press, they have been widely ignored by the mainstream media in the U.S.
On Sept. 6, 2007, the Israeli air force carried out a night raid on a Syrian nuclear facility being built with North Korean assistance near the Syrian-Turkish border. According to U.S. intelligence officials, the site was completely destroyed without the loss of any Israeli aircraft. Such a strike required at least the tacit agreement of authorities in Ankara. Notably, the raid prompted only muted complaints from Arab governments -- a fact not missed by Israelis contemplating military action against Tehran.
During the first week of June, the Israeli air force conducted exercises through NATO-controlled airspace in the Eastern Mediterranean and Greece, employing more than 100 F-15s, F-16s, aerial refueling tankers, airborne intelligence platforms, command-and-control aircraft, and search-and-rescue helicopters. The training missions replicated the almost 1,000-mile range required to attack Iranian missile and nuclear weapons assembly sites at Nantaz, Lavizan, the Parchin military complex and the Arak heavy-water facility.
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed new economic and banking sanctions against individuals and corporations connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In making the announcement, Stuart Levey, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said, "Iran's nuclear and missile firms hide behind an array of agents that transact business on their behalf."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.