On Monday, the U.N. Security Council voted 14-0-1 to impose new sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend certain nuclear activities, and diplomatic source tell Newsmax that the Bush administration is bracing for the fallout.
Iran's ambassador to the U.N. Mohammad Khazaee called the action "ilegal" but did not offer details on any other reaction by Tehran.
Iran's next move is not yet clear, but a third round of U.S./Iran security talks which had been scheduled to take place in Baghdad last December are now on "temporary" hold by Tehran.
Those talks centered on security in Iraq and had been privately credited by U.S. diplomats as playing a constructive role in the Pentagon's troop surge as well a decrease in insurgent attacks.
Now that the talks are in limbo, the Defense Department is concerned about an "uptick" in insurgent activity.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah (widely seen as an Iranian surrogate) has increased its opposition to the Lebanese government, which has been without a president for almost two months.
The White House is so concerned, last week it stationed the destroyer USS Cole just off the southern Lebanese coast, "to show the flag."
That brought cries of protest from Hezbollah and its supporters claiming that the Cole's presence was a "blatant" interference in Lebanon's internal affairs.
Meanwhile, about 200 miles south, at Israel's border with Gaza, the pressure on Hamas (another Iranian surrogate) continues to build.
The response has been a marked increase in missile attacks by Hamas into southern Israel and Jerusalem's retaliatory air strikes.
Last week, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) destroyed Hamas's headquarters inside Gaza city.
Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, now touring the region, visited Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on the West Bank and said she hoped to "revive" stalled peace talks with Israel. "Yes, I believe we can still do it," she told reporters.
Meanwhile Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israeli military forces may possibly reoccupy the Gaza strip. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also weighed in when he issued a warning to Iran saying that "Israel has the might to defend itself from any threat."
President Bush, who recently completed his first visit to Israel since taking office in 2001, is scheduled to make a high-profile return engagement as the Jewish state celebrates its 60th birthday in May.
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