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The American government is planning a military strike on Iran, including bombing its nuclear reactor, according to an investigative report to be published in the April 17 issue week of The New Yorker magazine.
According to the report, which quotes a former senior CIA official, President George Bush and his administration see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "a new Adolf Hitler."
A senior Pentagon adviser, quoted in the article, said the White House was convinced the only way to solve the problem would be to change the balance of power with Iran through war.
Another former senior American defense official said the United States was planning a series of bombing operations against Iran that would humiliate its religious leadership and lead its people to replace their government.
The report comes shortly after the failure of talks between the US and Iran over the future of Iraq, according to a source in the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, Israel Radio reported. Nevertheless, the source said, it was hoped that the discussions would recommence after the establishment of a new government in Iraq.
Two days ago, a source in the embassy said discussions between the United States and Iran would begin next week in Baghdad. The discussions between the governments were intended to aid in the formation of a new Iraqi government, to hasten the American pullout from the country and to advance security between Iran and Iraq.
Direct contacts between Iran and the United States were stopped after Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979.
The Bush administration remains interested in limited talks with Iran on its activities in Iraq, but no meeting is scheduled, a State Department spokesman said Friday.
The talks would be held in Baghdad, where US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was authorized months ago by Bush to meet with Iranian diplomats on a limited basis.
"We don't have a timeline for such a meeting," spokesman Sean McCormack said. "As for whether there will be a meeting, we will see."
The US official added: "We've had concerns about the Iranians' behavior in Iraq. We are calling for good, neighborly, transparent relations between Iraq and Iran."
Excluded from the potential discussion are Iran's nuclear activities, which the Bush administration and European allies say is designed to manufacture nuclear weapons.
McCormack suggested Iran was showing interest in talks with the United States because "they find themselves under the scrutiny and the harsh spotlight of the international community concerning their nuclear activities."
The US and the Europeans have brought their case against Iran to the United Nations, but there is no decision on whether to try to impose economic or other penalties on Iran to try to force a resumption of negotiations with Britain, France and Germany.
In Vienna, Austria, diplomatic sources reported the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, would go to Teheran this week to try to wrest concessions.
In about two weeks, he is due to report to the Security Council on whether Iran is heeding a call by the council to reimpose a freeze on enrichment of uranium and fully open its nuclear program to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
McCormack said the administration hoped ElBaradei would reinforce a message to the Iranian government that it must comply with its international obligations, including curbs on proliferating nuclear technology.