Watch the Nimitz

While Bush and Ahmadinejad rattle sabers, the reality of what's happening between the United States and Iran might be more subtle.

The Nelson Report — a pricey, uber-insider, Washington-based e-letter — reveals some startling information, via Steve Clemons at The Washington Note.

For one thing, Nelson says he has it on good authority that while the Iranians are indeed ramping up their attempts to bring 3000 centrifuges online to generate nuclear fuel, a recent attempt to hook up 50 of those centrifuges ended with all 50 blowing up.  Not exactly an imminent threat.

As for the possibility of strikes on Iran, Nelson's sources say not for awhile.  Whatever's happened in the week since Bush's speech is all for show and not for go.  Even the dispatching of a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf isn't all that meaningful except from a looking-tough standpoint  But…

…increasing to three carrier strike groups would be noticeably more 'robust', belligerent and suggestive of intending or anticipating attack. The difference between two and three strike groups is huge. Two ='s strong and capable, but existing offensive intent is less probable; three ='s 'we don't care about provocation, we're preparing to fight in this new dimension'.

(An indicator would be to watch for announcements about Nimitz strike group; Nimitz reportedly has completed the routine pre-deployment work-up and is in San Diego.)

That sounds about right.  With eleven carriers total (a 12th comes online in late 2008), the difference between two and three in the Gulf would be significant.  Watch the Nimitz.