Friday's NBC Nightly News and Saturday's CBS Evening News relayed comments by IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei as the UN official warned against an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, in response to a recent military exercise by the Israeli military. CBS anchor Kelly Wallace quoted El Baradei as contending that an attack on Iran "could turn the Mideast into a, quote, 'ball of fire.'" NBC substitute anchor Ann Curry spoke of "dire warnings of the consequences" as she introduced a report by Jim Miklaszewski which focused on possible retaliations by Iran, and which also mentioned El Baradei's "ball of fire" comments and the UN official's threat to resign if Iran is attacked.
In Miklaszewski's report, after relaying Iran's threat to give Israelis "a serious blow to the face," he cited U.S. military's officials who argue that "airstrikes on Iran could have devastating consequences in the Middle East and here at home. Iran could step up attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, unleash a wave of terrorism through the radical group Hezbollah, and wreak havoc on the world economy by disrupting the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf."
Miklaszewski then got to El Baradei's threat to resign of Iran is attacked. "Late today, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, warned the Middle East would explode into a 'fireball,' and threatened to quit if Israel attacked Iran."
Below are complete transcripts of the reports from the Friday June 20 NBC Nightly News and the Saturday June 21 CBS Evening News:
#From the June 20 NBC Nightly News:
ANN CURRY: From rising temperatures now to rising tensions in the Middle East. This morning's New York Times reported that Israel may be practicing for a possible bombing attack on Iran. And tonight there are dire warnings of the consequences if that happens. We get details from NBC's Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: U.S. officials confirm 100 Israeli warplanes, including U.S.-made fighter bombers, took part in the large-scale maneuver two weeks ago that extended well into the Mediterranean -- about the same distance it would take to reach Iran's nuclear sites. Israeli analysts claim Iran is on a fast track to develop nuclear weapons, and time is running out.
SHIMON SHIFFER, ISRAELI POLITICAL ANALYST: We will not tolerate such a situation that Iran will have a nuclear capability.
MIKLASZEWSKI: NBC's Ali Arouzi in Tehran says Iran fired back today during Friday prayers.
ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS: A prominent cleric with ties to the government said that if the Israelis so much as speak about attacking Iran, they'll receive a serious blow to the face.
MIKLASZEWSKI: Israel has launched similar attacks in the past. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq, and last year took out a suspected nuclear site in Syria. U.S. officials confirm Israeli Prime Minister Olmert pushed for possible airstrikes in a White House meeting with President Bush two weeks ago. While the U.S. pursues a diplomatic solution, Bush has not ruled out the military option.
ROGER CRESSEY, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: I think it also sends a signal to Tehran that the United States may not actively support an Israeli military strike, but they're not going to stop it.
MIKLASZEWSKI: U.S. military officials warn, however, that airstrikes on Iran could have devastating consequences in the Middle East and here at home. Iran could step up attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, unleash a wave of terrorism through the radical group Hezbollah, and wreak havoc on the world economy by disrupting the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf.
JOHN KILDUFF, CNBC ENERGY ANALYST: Gasoline prices would at least double, maybe triple from current levels if we were to see a price spike in crude oil to $300 to $400 a barrel.
MIKLASZEWSKI: Late today, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, warned the Middle East would explode into a "fireball," and threatened to quit if Israel attacked Iran. U.S. military and intelligence officials say Israeli airstrikes do not appear imminent, but in the long run are not ruling it out. Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, the Pentagon.
#From the June 21 CBS Evening News:
KELLY WALLACE: The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency warns that any attack on Iran could turn the Mideast into a, quote, "ball of fire." Mohamed El Baradei's warning comes one day after reports that Israeli warplanes conducted what U.S. intelligence analysts say was a dress rehearsal for an attack earlier this month.