Thursday, March 30, 2006

Will US use Iran military option?

By Paul Reynolds World Affairs correspondent, BBC News website

The US has the military capability to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

If the current diplomatic efforts to get Iran to suspend its nuclear fuel enrichment activities do not work, it is inevitable that at some stage, attention will be turned to discussion of a military option.

That means, in practice, an air attack against Iran's nuclear facilities by the United States and/or Israel.

The US could certainly carry out such an attack, with cruise missiles and with B-2, other Stealth bombers and B-52 bombers armed with satellite guided bombs.

However Iran's nuclear plants are widely spread out and one is buried deep underground, so an attack would need to be sustained and wide-ranging.

Israel might also be able to do it. Not long ago it bought some bunker-busting bombs from the US.

Nobody involved in the diplomatic round says this is an active proposition at the moment. However, President Bush has stated that the US will not accept Iran as a nuclear-armed state.

Hawk John Bolton has said the US will use all tools at its disposal. It is possible that he will interpret Iran's programme as a threat, even though Iran says it will not build a bomb but wants the technology only to make fuel for civil nuclear power. It is allowed to do make its own fuel under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Vice-President Cheney said last year that Israel might act first and "let the rest of the world worry about picking up the diplomatic pieces afterwards". (my italics)


Let the rest of the world worry, indeed. Among the world's nuclear powers, America and Israel are easily the most dangerous. America is the first and only nation in sixty years to use its nuclear weapons (Japan). Israel engages in pre-emptive military strikes against perceived enemies (The Six Day War) and then expands its borders.

If Iran (or Pakistan, or North Korea ) eventually attacks us, it may well be because they take America's arrogant and intemperate threats seriously, and believe - like Israel - that the best defense is a good offense.