Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’
plan for Iran
By Sarah Baxter
09/02/07 "The Times"
-- - Washington -- THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to
annihilate the Iranians’ 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 “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re
about taking out the entire Iranian military,” 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: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out
military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he
added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.
President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing
Tehran of putting the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust”. He
warned that the US and its
allies would confront Iran
“before it is too late”.
source said the “temperature was rising” inside the administration. Bush was
“sending a message to a number of audiences”, 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 “significant”
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
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 Iran’s
uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, said the IAEA was
being strung along. “A number of nuclear sites have not even been visited by
the IAEA,” he said. “They’re giving a clean bill of health to a regime that is
known to have practised deception.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, irritated
the Bush administration last week by vowing to fill a “power vacuum” 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 “proxy war” and claims
that with the Sunni insurgency and Al-Qaeda in Iraq “increasingly under control”, Iranian intervention is the “next major problem the
coalition must tackle”.
Bush noted that the number of attacks on US bases and troops by
Iranian-supplied munitions had increased in recent months ?
“despite pledges by Iran
to help stabilise the security situation in Iraq”.
It explains, in part, his lack of faith in diplomacy with the Iranians. But Debat believes the Pentagon’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