Iranian Nuclear Crisis Timeline/2008

The Iranian Nuclear Crisis Timeline details the events that have led to the contemporary crisis surrounding the Iranian uranium enrichment program.

Iranian Nuclear Crisis Timeline


  • March 31: Admiral William Fallon's resignation becomes effective.
  • March 14: Columist William M. Arkin responds to U.S. News & World Report with Six Signs the U.S. is Not Headed to War With Iran.
  • March 11: U.S. News & World Report website posts Six Signs the U.S. May be Headed For a War With Iran.
  • March 11: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announces that Admiral William "Fox" Fallon is resigning as CENTCOM Commander, reportedly because he disagreed with the White House about waging war agaisnt Iran. U.S. Pres. George W. Bush has long said that he listens to his miltiary commanders, but apparently he does not do so when they disagree with his neo-conservative political advisors.


  • February 27: In a New York Times interview, CENTCOM Commander William "Fox" Fallon states that he endorses a brief pause in American troop reductions from Iraq this summer, followed by a resumption of withdrawals to balance deployments across the rest of the region.
  • February 12: Speaking to reporters after discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert waves the American military stick at Iran: "President Bush, I think, once said 'no option is ruled out'. And I think that his definition was very interesting and I have nothing to add to this." Source: n.a. "Israel Sure Iran Seeking Nuclear Arms: Olmert." Agence France Presse. February 12, 2008. News Source (Does Olmert control the U.S. military? Does he control the second Bush administration's Middle East foreign policy?)
  • February 11: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad engages in more patriotic bombast: "I ask the people's view. Would you agree if I ... gave in, surrendered or compromised over the nuclear issue? Would you agree to give up one iota of your nuclear rights?" Source: Ali Akbar Dareini. "Ahmadinejad: Iran Won't Stop Enrichment." Associated Press. February 11, 2008. News Source Note that Ahmadinejad is referred to as "Hard-line" to cue the reading public on the appropriate attitude toward the Iranian leader.
  • February 4: Tit for tat after the January 17 Israeli missile launch? Iran launches domestically produced research rocket with satellite as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad read out the launch countdown. According to Andrew Brookes of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London: "We know Iran can fire missiles. This proves nothing new in terms of technology and capability. You can't link this with nuclear weapons yet. It might just be a civilian launch." Source: Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl. "Iran Tests Rocket, Plans To Launch Satellite: TV." Washington Post. February 4, 2008. News Report
  • February 4: Second Bush administration reinforces the Israeli nuclear threat against Iran by parking the USS San Jacinto, an AEGIS missile defense cruiser, in Haifa. Source: Yaacov Katz. "US Anti-Missile Ship To Dock In Haifa." The Jerusalem Post. February 4, 2008. News Report


  • January 31: Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini rails in the Bahraini newspaper Al-Wasat that: "There is no legal justification for passing resolutions against Iran, just as there was no justification for Tehran's nuclear dossier to be hauled before the UN Security Council." Source: n.a. "Spokesman: Sanctions Against Iran Violate UN Charter." Xinhua February 1, 2008.
  • January 30: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blusters in speech in Bushehr: ""If you (Western powers) imagine that the Iranian nation will back down you are making a mistake. On the nuclear path we are moving towards the peak." Source: n.a. "Iran Receives Last Cargo of Russian Nuclear Fuel." Moscow Times. January 31, 2008. News Report
  • January 21: Speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference, neo-conservative former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton "reasoned" that because the U.S. was reluctant to start bombing, Israel might have to do so: "One can say with some assurance that in the next year the use of force by the United States is highly unlikely. That increases the pressure on Israel in that period of time... if it feels Iran is on the verge of acquiring that capability, it brings the decision point home to use force." Source: Israel May Have To Take Military Action Against Iran: Bolton." Agence France Presse. January 21, 2008. n.a. "News Report
  • January 17: A secretive Israeli Defence Ministry announces that it has tested a missile: "A successful missile launch was carried out within the framework of examining rocket propulsion." Source: Ori Lewis and Dan Williams. "Iran Defiant After Israeli Missile Test." Reuters UK. February 17, 2008.
  • January 13: U.S. President George W. Bush waxes hyperbolic in Abi Dhabi, describing Iran as a universal threat to peace:
One cause of instability is the extremists supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terror. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world -- while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home. It undermines Lebanese hopes for peace by arming and aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah. It subverts the hopes for peace in other parts of the region by funding terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. It sends arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shia militants in Iraq. It seeks to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric. And finally, it defies the United Nations and destabilizes the region by refusing to be open and transparent about its nuclear programs and ambitions. Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.

Source: "President Bush Discusses Importance of Freedom in the Middle East." The White House Press Office. January 13, 2008.

Let me remind you what the NIE actually said. It said that as far as the intelligence community could tell, at one time the Iranians had a military -- covert military program that was suspended in 2003 because of international pressure. My attitude is that a non-transparent country, a country which has yet to disclose what it was up to, can easily restart a program. The fact that they suspended the program is heartening in that the international community's response had worked. The fact that they had one is discouraging because they could restart it.
Secondly, there are three aspects to a weapons program. One is the capacity to have -- enrich so that you can have the materials necessary to make a bomb. They're claiming they're enriching for civilian purposes. I believe that knowledge gained for civilian purposes could be transferred for military purposes. Therefore, our efforts are to stop them from enriching.
Secondly, the knowledge of how to convert any materials into a bomb. We don't know whether they have that knowledge or not. However, for the sake of peace, we ought to assume they do, and therefore, rally the world to convince other that they're a threat. Third, they've got missiles in which they can use to deliver the bomb. So no matter how you might have interpreted the NIE, I interpreted it to mean you better take the Iranians' threat seriously.
Secondly, I have always told the American people that I believe it's incumbent upon the American President to solve problems diplomatically. And that's exactly what we're in the process of doing. I believe that pressure -- economic pressure, financial sanctions -- will cause the people inside of Iran to have to make a considered judgment about whether or not it makes sense for them to continue to enrich or face world isolation. The country is paying an economic price for its intransigence and its unwillingness to tell the truth.
  • January 7: U.S. Department of Defense official announces that during the previous two days five Iranian speedboats had harassed three (Unidentified) U.S. Navy ships as they passed through the Stait of Hormuz and broadcast the following radio transmission: "I'm coming at you and you will blow up in a couple of minutes." Source: n.a. Agence France Presse. January 7, 2008.
  • January 3: Iranian state radio quotes Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying that improving ties with U.S. at present, "has no benefit for Iranian nation" and would be an opportunity for U.S. infiltration, traffic of their intelligence agents and espionage of Iran." Source: Nasser Karimi. "Khamenei: Wrong Time for Iran-US Ties." Guardian. January 3, 2008. News Report
  • January 2: Israeli President Shimon Peres tells Sueddeutsche Zeitung that while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is dangerous for Israel and the Middle East, he can be dealt with by means short of war: "I do not think that a war with Iran is necessary. Ahmadinejad can be deposed by other means. Sanctions have revealed themselves to be a very effective instrument. Sanctions, not war, did away with North Korea's nuclear weapons." (Is that a threat of assassiantion?) Peres also appeared to read the minds of tens of millions of Iranians: "The majority is not ready to trade Allah and Mohammed for enriched uranium. Those that, like Iran, threaten the future of humanity have no future themselves. We will survive Ahmadinejad." Source: n.a. "Israel Does Not Expect War With Iran: Peres." Agence France Presse. January 2, 2008. News Report.
  • January 1: Senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (officially the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council) names three hardliners to the Iranian National Security Council, inclcding Mehdi Bokhraie (former army and Revolutionary Guards "intellectual") as foreign policy chief, Ahmad Khadem-ol Meleh (former IRNA news agency director) as communications chief , and Ahmad Khaledi (former deputy commerce minister) as economics policy chief. Source: n.a. "Iran's Top Nuclear Negotiator Reshuffles Team." Agence France Presse. January 1, 2008.