US and Israel should beware of taking on Iran


Iran is well able to retaliate against any attack on their nuclear facilities


by Robert Fox,opinion,us-and-israel-should-beware-of-taking-on-iran

America's senior commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, has firmly warned that involving US forces in a third war now - against Iran - would prove "extremely stressful" for them. The clear hint is that someone in the White House is still desperate to bomb something in Iran before they leave office.


The war fever is up again over Iran's nuclear programme, which Tehran still claims is only peaceful. Mullen refused to say what Israeli leaders told him privately last week. But in June the Israelis flew some 100 aircraft across the Mediterranean to practice aerial refuelling of their strike force of F15 and F16s. They tanked them to travel a distance of some 2,000km - roughly the distance to Natanz, where Iran currently has thousands of centrifuges spinning.


Natanz is the likely target of any 'fire power demonstration' by combined forces of America and Israel. But what would flattening the facilities, such as they are known, achieve? "It would probably set Iran back about two years," according to one US analyst. And it would leave a terrible human mess. Some 35,000 Iranians have been housed close to the plant.


"An attack would be crazy," the rising star of the Tehran hierarchy, Ali Larijani, has said. He sees real possibilities of productive talks now.


It seems almost incredible that after their two disastrous efforts at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush and Cheney might still be thinking of a third against Iran. The consequences could be worse by far, because Iran is well-prepared for retaliation, with land-launched anti-ship missiles ready along the coast.


It plans to choke 40 per cent of the world's oil in the Straits of Hormuz in the Gulf, and trigger further offensives by the Taliban and the Tajik northern alliance in Afghanistan. There will be a general order to attack Anglo-American allies and interests.