London Government in secret talks about strike against Iran
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Daily Telegraph - 2 April 2006: The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.
high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which
senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the
consequences of an attack on Iran.
It is believed
that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to
develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to
comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment
|A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence|
meeting will be attended by Gen Sir Michael Walker, the chief of the
defence staff, Lt Gen Andrew Ridgway, the chief of defence intelligence
and Maj Gen Bill Rollo, the assistant chief of the general staff,
together with officials from the Foreign Office and Downing Street.
International Atomic Energy Authority, the nuclear watchdog, believes
that much of Iran's programme is now devoted to uranium enrichment and
plutonium separation, technologies that could provide material for
nuclear bombs to be developed in the next three years.
United States government is hopeful that the military operation will be
a multinational mission, but defence chiefs believe that the Bush
administration is prepared to launch the attack on its own or with the
assistance of Israel, if there is little international support. British
military chiefs believe an attack would be limited to a series of air
strikes against nuclear plants - a land assault is not being considered
at the moment.
But confirmation that Britain has
started contingency planning will undermine the claim last month by
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that a military attack against Iran
Condoleezza Rice, the US
secretary of state, insisted, during a visit to Blackburn yesterday,
that all negotiating options - including the use of force - remained
open in an attempt to resolve the crisis.
|General Sir Michael Walker|
Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from US navy ships and submarines in the
Gulf would, it is believed, target Iran's air defence systems at the
That would enable attacks
by B2 stealth bombers equipped with eight 4,500lb enhanced BLU-28
satellite-guided bunker-busting bombs, flying from Diego Garcia, the
isolated US Navy base in the Indian Ocean, RAF Fairford in
Gloucestershire and Whiteman USAF base in Missouri.
is understood that any direct British involvement in an attack would be
limited but may extend to the use of the RAF's highly secret airborne
early warning aircraft.
At the centre of the
crisis is Washington's fear that an Iranian nuclear weapon could be
used against Israel or US forces in the region, such as the American
air base at Incirlik in Turkey.
The UN also
believes that the production of a bomb could also lead to further
destabilisation in the Middle East, which would result in Egypt, Syria
and Saudi Arabia all developing nuclear weapons programmes.
senior Foreign Office source said: "Monday's meeting will set out to
address the consequences for Britain in the event of an attack against
Iran. The CDS [chiefs of defence staff] will want to know what the
impact will be on British interests in Iraq and Afghanistan which both
border Iran. The CDS will then brief the Prime Minister and the Cabinet
on their conclusions in the next few days.
Iran makes another strategic mistake, such as ignoring demands by the
UN or future resolutions, then the thinking among the chiefs is that
military action could be taken to bring an end to the crisis. The
belief in some areas of Whitehall is that an attack is now all but
There will be no invasion of Iran but
the nuclear sites will be destroyed. This is not something that will
happen imminently, maybe this year, maybe next year. Jack Straw is
making exactly the same noises that the Government did in March 2003
when it spoke about the likelihood of a war in Iraq.
"Then the Government said the war was neither inevitable or imminent and then attacked."
source said that the Israeli attack against Iraq's Osirak nuclear
reactor in 1981 proved that a limited operation was the best military
The Israeli air force launched raids
against the plant, which intelligence suggested was being used to
develop a nuclear bomb for use against Israel.
chiefs also plan tomorrow to discuss fears that an attack within Iran
will "unhinge" southern Iraq - where British troops are based - an area
mainly populated by Shia Muslims who have strong political and
religious links to Iran.
They are concerned that
this could delay any withdrawal of troops this year or next. There
could also be consequences for British and US troops in Afghanistan,
which borders Iran.
The MoD meeting will address
the economic issues that could arise if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the
Iranian president - who became the subject of international
condemnation last year when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the
map" - cuts off oil supplies to the West in reprisal.
are thought to be at least eight known sites within Iran involved in
the production of nuclear materials, although it is generally accepted
that there are many more secret installations.
has successfully tested a Fajr-3 missile that can reach Israel,
avoiding radar and hitting several targets using multiple warheads, its
military has confirmed.
Zaman.com - Turkey - 2 April:
The United States is firm in its plans to launch a military operation
against Iran, said Kazim Jalali, a spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s
Commission of Foreign Affairs, adding the United States would find another
reason for its military operation even if the nuclear plants were immediately
There are peaceful motives behind the nuclear projects in Iran, said Jalali,
when he asserted that the use of nuclear weapons is outlawed according to Islam
too. The Western news media distorted what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
said about Israel, Jalali argued.
Jalali was hosted in Turkey by the Political Thought Platform. Iran signed
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, Jalali told Zaman, and added that the
treaty accords certain rights to produce and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful
There are nuclear projects in Iran that allow international monitoring, said
“For the past three years, 1,700 international overseers have been granted
official permission to inspect Iran’s nuclear projects. One is most unlikely to
see any other instances of this. Iran received an order from the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to relinquish its works on nuclear energy within a
period of two months. Iran put on hold its nuclear works of its own accord when
the government here conferred with the European Union member countries on the
Paris Pact. With a blind eye to our efforts, they asked us for a sheer
abandonment of nuclear projects.
Iran’s use of a new generation of technology would alarm the United States,”
said the Iranian deputy. He argued that the administration in Washington is
encouraging the IAEA to press the administration in Tehran to turn its back on
the nuclear projects.
The nuclear works in Tehran are only used as a pretext by the United States
to do away with the Islamic regime of Iran, Jalali said.
“The United States will always have a reason to strike Iran in spite of an
assertion from the government here to close soon all the nuclear plants.”
Although there is a common awareness of the presence of nuclear weapons in
Israel, there is no objection to Israeli right to own such weaponry, said
The Iranian government will definitely not disown its peaceful nuclear
projects, Jalali concluded.
Attacking Iran May Trigger Terrorism
U.S. Experts Wary of Military Action Over Nuclear Program
By Dana Priest
Washington Post - Page 1 - Sunday 2 April: As
tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence
and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S.
military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence
operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.
would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian
intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts.
There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target
civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.
officials would not discuss what evidence they have indicating Iran
would undertake terrorist action, but the matter "is consuming a lot of
time" throughout the U.S. intelligence apparatus, one senior official
said. "It's a huge issue," another said.
against discussing classified information, U.S. intelligence officials
declined to say whether they have detected preparatory measures, such
as increased surveillance, counter-surveillance or message traffic, on
the part of Iran's foreign-based intelligence operatives.
terrorism experts considered Iranian-backed or controlled groups --
namely the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives,
its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah -- to be
better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network that
carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Iranian government
views the Islamic Jihad, the name of Hezbollah's terrorist
organization, "as an extension of their state. . . . operational teams
could be deployed without a long period of preparation," said
Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's coordinator for
The possibility of a military confrontation has
been raised only obliquely in recent months by President Bush and
Iran's government. Bush says he is pursuing a diplomatic solution to
the crisis, but he has added that all options are on the table for
stopping Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Vienna last month, Javad Vaeedi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator,
warned the United States that "it may have the power to cause harm and
pain, but it is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if the United
States wants to pursue that path, let the ball roll," although he did
not specify what type of harm he was talking about.
officials said their interest in Iran's intelligence services is not an
indication that a military confrontation is imminent or likely, but
rather a reflection of a decades-long adversarial relationship in which
Iran's agents have worked secretly against U.S. interests, most
recently in Iraq and Pakistan. As confrontation over Iran's nuclear
program has escalated, so has the effort to assess the threat from
Iran's covert operatives.
U.N. Security Council members continue
to debate how best to pressure Iran to prove that its nuclear program
is not meant for weapons. The United States, Britain and France want
the Security Council to threaten Iran with economic sanctions if it
does not end its uranium enrichment activities. Russia and China,
however, have declined to endorse such action and insist on continued
negotiations. Security Council diplomats are meeting this weekend to
try to break the impasse. Iran says it seeks nuclear power but not
Former CIA terrorism analyst Paul R. Pillar said
that any U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iranian territory "would be
regarded as an act of war" by Tehran, and that Iran would strike back
with its terrorist groups. "There's no doubt in my mind about that. . .
. Whether it's overseas at the hands of Hezbollah, in Iraq or possibly
Europe, within the regime there would be pressure to take violent
Before Sept. 11, the armed wing of Hezbollah, often
working on behalf of Iran, was responsible for more American deaths
than in any other terrorist attacks. In 1983 Hezbollah truck-bombed the
U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241, and in 1996 truck-bombed
Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. service members.
intelligence service, operating out of its embassies around the world,
assassinated dozens of monarchists and political dissidents in Europe,
Pakistan, Turkey and the Middle East in the two decades after the 1979
Iranian revolution, which brought to power a religious Shiite
government. Argentine officials also believe Iranian agents bombed a
Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, killing 86 people.
Iran has denied involvement in that attack.
services "are well trained, fairly sophisticated and have been doing
this for decades," said Crumpton, a former deputy of operations at the
CIA's Counterterrorist Center. "They are still very capable. I don't
see their capabilities as having diminished."
Both sides have
increased their activities against the other. The Bush administration
is spending $75 million to step up pressure on the Iranian government,
including funding non-governmental organizations and alternative media
broadcasts. Iran's parliament then approved $13.6 million to counter
what it calls "plots and acts of meddling" by the United States.
the uptick in interest in Iran" on the part of the United States, "it
would be a very logical assumption that we have both ratcheted up
[intelligence] collection, absolutely," said Fred Barton, a former
counterterrorism official who is now vice president of counterterrorism
for Stratfor, a security consulting and forecasting firm. "It would be
a more fevered pitch on the Iranian side because they have fewer
The office of the director of national intelligence,
which recently began to manage the U.S. intelligence agencies, declined
to allow its analysts to discuss their assessment of Iran's
intelligence services and Hezbollah and their capabilities to retaliate
against U.S. interests.
"We are unable to address your questions
in an unclassified manner," a spokesman for the office, Carl Kropf,
wrote in response to a Washington Post query.
The current state
of Iran's intelligence apparatus is the subject of debate among
experts. Some experts who spent their careers tracking the intelligence
ministry's operatives describe them as deployed worldwide and easier to
monitor than Hezbollah cells because they operate out of embassies and
behave more like a traditional spy service such as the Soviet KGB.
experts believe the Iranian service has become bogged down in intense,
regional concerns: attacks on Shiites in Pakistan, the Iraq war and
efforts to combat drug trafficking in Iran.
As a result, said
Bahman Baktiari, an Iran expert at the University of Maine, the
intelligence service has downsized its operations in Europe and the
United States. But, said Baktiari, "I think the U.S. government doesn't
have a handle on this."
Because Iran's nuclear facilities are
scattered around the country, some military specialists doubt a strike
could effectively end the program and would require hundreds of strikes
beforehand to disable Iran's vast air defenses. They say airstrikes
would most likely inflame the Muslim world, alienate reformers within
Iran and could serve to unite Hezbollah and al-Qaeda, which have only
limited contact currently.
A report by the independent commission
investigating the Sept. 11 attacks cited al-Qaeda's long-standing
cooperation with the Iranian-back Hezbollah on certain operations and
said Osama bin Laden may have had a previously undisclosed role in the
Khobar attack. Several al-Qaeda figures are reportedly under house
arrest in Iran.
Others in the law enforcement and intelligence
circles have been more dubious about cooperation between al-Qaeda and
Hezbollah, largely because of the rivalries between Shiite and Sunni
Muslims. Al-Qaeda adherents are Sunni Muslims; Hezbollah's are Shiites.
"certainly wants to remind governments that they can create a lot of
difficulty if strikes were to occur," said a senior European
counterterrorism official interviewed recently. "That they might react
with all means, Hezbollah inside Lebanon and outside Lebanon, this is
certain. Al-Qaeda could become a tactical alliance."