From The Sunday Times
September 2, 2007
Pentagon â€˜three-day blitzâ€™ plan for Iran
Sarah Baxter, Washington
THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iraniansâ€™ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.
Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for â€œpinprick strikesâ€ against Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities. â€œTheyâ€™re about taking out the entire Iranian military,â€ he said.
Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: â€œWhether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.â€ It was, he added, a â€œvery legitimate strategic calculusâ€.
President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East â€œunder the shadow of a nuclear holocaustâ€. He warned that the US and its allies would confront Iran â€œbefore it is too lateâ€.
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One Washington source said the â€œtemperature was risingâ€ inside the administration. Bush was â€œsending a message to a number of audiencesâ€, he said � to the Iranians and to members of the United Nations security council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week reported â€œsignificantâ€ cooperation with Iran over its nuclear programme and said that uranium enrichment had slowed. Tehran has promised to answer most questions from the agency by November, but Washington fears it is stalling to prevent further sanctions. Iran continues to maintain it is merely developing civilian nuclear power.
Bush is committed for now to the diplomatic route but thinks Iran is moving towards acquiring a nuclear weapon. According to one well placed source, Washington believes it would be prudent to use rapid, overwhelming force, should military action become necessary.
israel, which has warned it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, has made its own preparations for airstrikes and is said to be ready to attack if the Americans back down.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which uncovered the existence of Iranâ€™s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, said the IAEA was being strung along. â€œA number of nuclear sites have not even been visited by the IAEA,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™re giving a clean bill of health to a regime that is known to have practised deception.â€
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, irritated the Bush administration last week by vowing to fill a â€œpower vacuumâ€ in Iraq. But Washington believes Iran is already fighting a proxy war with the Americans in Iraq.
The Institute for the Study of War last week released a report by Kimberly Kagan that explicitly uses the term â€œproxy warâ€ and claims that with the Sunni insurgency and Al-Qaeda in Iraq â€œincreasingly under controlâ€, Iranian intervention is the â€œnext major problem the coalition must tackleâ€.
Bush noted that the number of attacks on US bases and troops by Iranian-supplied munitions had increased in recent months � â€œdespite pledges by Iran to help stabilise the security situation in Iraqâ€.
It explains, in part, his lack of faith in diplomacy with the Iranians. But Debat believes the Pentagonâ€™s plans for military action involve the use of so much force that they are unlikely to be used and would seriously stretch resources in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I still think israel will take a 'poke' at the Mullahs before the U.S. does. I think this is a bit more 'sabre rattling'. But if the U.S. does, I hope they whip out one of the many new weapons systems they've got 'in the can.' Like maybe the 17,000 m.p.h. attack jets they've been flying around the desert for years now. The ones that everyone thinks are U.F.O.s'. :sl: They've also got a very nice laser weapons system that I'm itching to see. :sl: