US prepares military blitz against Iran's
By Philip Sherwell in Washington
Telegraph" -- -- Strategists at the Pentagon are
drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by
submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's
nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to
develop an atomic bomb.
Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying
targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an
operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld,
the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the
diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear
bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian
"This is more than just the standard military
contingency assessment," said a senior Pentagon adviser. "This has
taken on much greater urgency in recent months."
The prospect of military action could put
Washington at odds with Britain which fears that an attack would
spark violence across the Middle East, reprisals in the West and may
not cripple Teheran's nuclear programme. But the steady flow of
disclosures about Iran's secret nuclear operations and the virulent
anti-Israeli threats of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted
the fresh assessment of military options by Washington. The most
likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2
bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons,
including the latest bunker-busting devices. They would fly from
bases in Missouri with mid-air refuelling.
The Bush administration has recently announced
plans to add conventional ballistic missiles to the armoury of its
nuclear Trident submarines within the next two years. If ready in
time, they would also form part of the plan of attack.
Teheran has dispersed its nuclear plants, burying
some deep underground, and has recently increased its air defences,
but Pentagon planners believe that the raids could seriously set
back Iran's nuclear programme.
Iran was last weekend reported to the United
Nations Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency
for its banned nuclear activities. Teheran reacted by announcing
would resume full-scale uranium enrichment - producing material
that could arm nuclear devices.
The White House says that it wants a diplomatic
solution to the stand-off, but President George W Bush has refused
to rule out military action and reaffirmed last weekend that Iran's
nuclear ambitions "will not be tolerated".
Sen John McCain, the Republican front-runner to
succeed Mr Bush in 2008, has advocated military strikes as a last
resort. He said recently: "There is only only one thing worse than
the United States exercising a military option and that is a
Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat, has made the
same case and Mr Bush is expected to be faced by the decision within
By then, Iran will be close to acquiring the
knowledge to make an atomic bomb, although the construction will
take longer. The President will not want to be seen as leaving the
White House having allowed Iran's ayatollahs to go atomic.
In Teheran yesterday, crowds celebrating the
anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution chanted "Nuclear
technology is our inalienable right" and cheered Mr Ahmadinejad when
he said that Iran may reconsider membership of the nuclear
He was defiant over possible economic sanctions.
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