“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’.”
“Pentagon “˜three-day blitz” plan for Iran,” by Sarah Baxter for The Sunday Times:
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”.
One Washington 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 become necessary.
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.”
Jafarzadeh’s comments help shed light on the discrepancy between the IAEA’s optimism and Ahmadinejad’s announcement that Iran has reached its goal of operating 3000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, in “Iran: Uranium centrifuge goal reached” by Nasser Karimi for the Associated Press:
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s president claimed Sunday that his country is now running
3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium for its controversial nuclear program “” a long-sought Iranian goal.
The claim contradicted a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Thursday that
put the number much lower “” at close to 2,000. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said enrichment had slowed and Iran was cooperating with its nuclear probe, which could fend off calls for a third round of sanctions.
Iran previously announced operating 3,000 centrifuges in April, but the IAEA said at the time that Iran had only 328 centrifuges operating at its underground Natanz enrichment facility in central Iran.
In the latest report, drawn up by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the organization put the number of centrifuges enriching uranium in Natanz at close to 2,000 with another 650 being tested.
The 2,000 figure is an increase of a few hundred of the machines over May, when
the IAEA last reported on Iran. Still the rate of expansion is much slower than a few months ago, when the country was assembling close to 200 centrifuges every two weeks.
“The recent report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agrees with Iran’s approach and
the dispute over Iran’s nuclear case has ended,” Ahmadinejad said. The latest IAEA report
noted an increased willingness by the Iranians to answer questions after years of
Iran’s ultimate stated goal for the Natanz facility, the only site now open to full IAEA monitoring, is to run 54,000 centrifuges “” enough for dozens of nuclear weapons a year.