Monday, February 19, 2007

U.S. contingency plans on attacking Iran

It is no secret that the Bush administration has been itching for a war with Iran. Now, according to the BBC, the United States has established two triggers for an attack on Iran: the development of a nuclear weapon or an attack on U.S. forces in Iraq producing significant casualties that can be traced back to Tehran. U.S. air strikes would go beyond nuclear facilities and include a wide range of military sites.

This form the BBC:
US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.

It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.

The US insists it is not planning to attack, and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.

The UN has urged Iran to stop the programme or face economic sanctions.

But diplomatic sources have told the BBC that as a fallback plan, senior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected their target sets inside Iran.

That list includes Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list, the sources say.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon - which it denies.

Alternatively, our correspondent adds, a high-casualty attack on US forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran.

Long range B2 stealth bombers would drop so-called "bunker-busting" bombs in an effort to penetrate the Natanz site, which is buried some 25m (27 yards) underground.

The BBC's Tehran correspondent France Harrison says the news that there are now two possible triggers for an attack is a concern to Iranians.

Authorities insist there is no cause for alarm but ordinary people are now becoming a little worried, she says.
You can read the entire article here.

Inside Iraq raises the question (via American Footprints) as to which side we can expect the Iraqi government to take if war breaks out between the U.S. and Iran. As the blog points out, a significant number of the members of the ruling government in Iraq spent many years in exile in Iran and prefer Persian over Arabic. However, as pointed out here before, there is a strong streak of Iraqi nationalism that will resist Iranian influence. So which way would they go? Given the volatile situation in Iraq right now it might be wise not to force the issue if that can be avoided.

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