US military, intelligence officials raise concern about possible
preparations for Iran strike
Use of Iraq terror group bypassed Congress, sources say
By Larisa Alexandrovna
Story" -- -- Concern is building among the military and the intelligence
community that the US may be preparing for a military strike on
Iran, as military assets in key positions are approaching
readiness, RAW STORY has learned.
According to military and intelligence sources, an air strike
on Iran could be doable in June of this year, with military
assets in key positions ready to go and a possible plan already
on the table.
Speculation has been growing on a possible air strike against
Iran. But with the failure of the Bush administration to present
a convincing case to the UN Security Council and to secure
political backing domestically, some experts say the march
toward war with Iran is on pause barring an "immediate need."
"In March/April of this year [the US] was pushing for quick
closure, a thirty day window," says a source close to the UN
Security Council, describing efforts by the Administration to
"shore up enough support" to get a UN Chapter 7 resolution.
A UN Chapter 7 resolution makes it possible for sanctions to
be imposed against an uncooperative nation and leaves the door
open to military action.
The UN source also says that a military analysis suggests
that no military action should be undertaken in Iran until
spring of 2007, but that things remain volatile given this
administration’s penchant for having "their own way."
Strike could come earlier than thought
Other military and intelligence sources are expressing
concern both privately and publicly that air strikes on Iran
could come earlier than believed.
Retired Air Force Colonel and former faculty member at the
National War College Sam Gardiner has heard some military
suggestions of a possible air campaign in the near future, and
although he has no intimate knowledge of such plans, he says
recent aircraft carrier activity and current operations on the
ground in Iran have raised red flags.
Gardiner says his concerns have kept him busy attempting to
create the most likely scenario should such an attack occur.
"I would expect two or three aircraft carriers would be moved
into the area," Gardner said, describing what he thinks is the
best way air strikes could be carried out without disengaging
assets from US fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Two air-craft carriers are already en route to the region,
RAW STORY has found. The USS Abraham Lincoln, which recently
made a port call in Singapore, and the USS Enterprise which left
Norfolk, Virginia earlier this month, are headed for the Western
Pacific and Middle East. The USS Ronald Reagan is already
operating in the Gulf.
In addition to aircraft carrier activity, Gardiner says, B-2
bombers would be critical.
"I would expect the B-2's, the main firepower asset, to be
flown on missions directly from the United States," Gardiner
explained. "I would expect B-52's to be flown in strikes from
the UK and Diego Garcia."
"Finally," he added, "a large number of cruise missiles would
be fired from the carrier support ships."
Steven Aftergood, senior research analyst at the Federation
of American Scientists, says that the B-2 bomber is capable of
such long range activity.
"The B2 bomber was designed, with the Soviet Union in mind,
for intercontinental operations," Aftergood said. "With aerial
refueling, it has a range of up to 10,000 miles."
Like Gardiner, Aftergood has heard similar claims with regard
to a June strike, but has not been able to confirm them
Intelligence sources confirm hearing the allegations of a
June attack, but have been unable to fully confirm that such an
attack is in the works. Both the
New Yorker and the
Washington Post have previously reported that the Pentagon
is studying military options on Iran.
All sources, however, agree that given the administration’s
interest in regime change, an attack on Iran is likely,
regardless of international support or UN backing. Furthermore,
all sources agree that Gardiner’s scenario is the most probable,
including an estimated duration and "pause" assessment.
Gardiner believes that the entire initial operation could run
quickly, roughly 24-72 hours. "Most of the strikes would be at
night," he said. "The Iranian nuclear facilities will be
targeted; more important however, a major effort would focus on
Iran's capability to retaliate. The US will target missile
facilities, air bases and naval assets."
"After the initial effort, there will be a pause during which
time the Iranians will be told that if they retaliate, the air
strikes would continue," he added.
The Pentagon did not return calls for comment.
Advance teams under way; Congress
previously reported by Raw Story, a terrorist organization
known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) is being used on the ground in
Iran by the Pentegon, bypassing US intelligence channels. The
report was subsequently covered by the Asia Times (Article).
Military and intelligence sources now say no Presidential
finding exists on MEK ops. Without a presidential finding, the
operation circumvents the oversight of the House and Senate
Congressional aides for the relevant oversight committees
would not confirm or deny allegations that no Presidential
finding had been done. One Democratic aide, however, wishing to
remain anonymous for this article, did say that any use of the
MEK would be illegal.
In addition, sources say that a March attack that killed 22
Iranian officials in the province of Sistan va Baluchistan was
carried out by the MEK.
a report by Iran Focus filed Mar. 23, the twenty-two people
killed in the ambush included high ranking officials, including
the governor of Zahedan.
"Hours after the attack took place, Ahmadi-Moqaddam announced
there was evidence the assailants had held meetings with British
intelligence officers," the Iranian news service reported.
"Radical Shiite cleric Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi also claimed
the people behind the attack were the same as those behind a
spate of bombings in Iran’s south-western province of Khuzestan
earlier this year and in 2005," it added.
Military and intelligence sources say that MEK assets were
responsible for this attack, but did not know if the US military
was involved or if US military assets were part of the ambush.
One former high ranking US intelligence official described
the use of MEK as more of a "Cambone" operation than a
"Department of Defense operation."
Undersecretary of Defense Intelligence Stephen Cambone, a
stalwart neo-conservative, is considered by many to be Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s right-hand man.
a White House briefing in early May, outgoing press
secretary Scott McClellan denied that the administration was
using MEK, among several other terrorist organizations named,
for ground activity in Iran.
"There are numerous reports about low-intensity operations
ongoing in Iran from three different places -- PKK going over
the border into Iraq, the MEK southern border of Iraq into Iran,
and also certain operations from Balochistan involving also the
Pakistanis," a reporter asked. "Does the U.S. have a policy,
given also reports which I know you won't comment on, on
possible special forces operations in Iran?"
"Our policies haven't changed on those organizations,"
McClellan said. "They remain the same. And you're bringing up
organizations that we view as terrorist organizations."
"We would never cooperate with them, in terms of—" the
"Our policy hasn't changed," McClellan replied.
Military, intelligence community alarmed
According to a
New Yorker article by veteran investigative journalist
Seymour Hersh, other activities aimed at intimidating and
agitating Iranian leadership are also underway.
"One military planner told me that White House criticisms of
Iran and the high tempo of planning and clandestine activities
amount to a campaign of ‘coercion’ aimed at Iran," Hersh wrote.
The increase in violence on the southern border of Iran, the
movement of aircraft carriers into the region, the insistence of
Iran’s leadership that they intend to be a player on the nuclear
stage and the Bush Administration’s focus on regime change make
military and intelligence sources nervous.
"[President] Bush thinks that history will judge him as a
great leader, not unlike Winston Churchill," one former
high-ranking military intelligence official remarked.
For now, Gardiner and others remain on the sidelines as the
Administration plots their next move.
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