Sunday, April 02, 2006

Wont Be Long Now

London 'to weigh US strike on Iran'
Correspondents in London and Washington
April 03, 2006

THE British Government is to hold secret talks with military chiefs today to discuss the consequences of possible US-led strikes against Iran.

Citing a senior British Foreign Office source, London newspaper The Sunday Telegraph said the high-level meeting would consider the aftermath of a US-led attack on Iranian nuclear sites.

The meeting would take place in the Ministry of Defence, the report said.

It is believed a US-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is inevitable if Tehran fails to comply with UN demands to freeze its uranium enrichment program, the newspaper said.

The US and its allies claim Iran is using its nuclear energy program to hide an attempt to develop an atomic bomb.

The US hopes any military operation against Iran will be a multinational mission, but British defence chiefs suspect the Bush administration is prepared to launch the attack on its own or with the assistance of Israel if there is little international support for the plan.

British military chiefs believe the attack would be limited to a series of air strikes against nuclear plants. A land assault was not being considered for the moment, the report said.

The Ministry of Defence denied such discussions were to take place.

But a 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 border Iran.

"The CDS will then brief the Prime Minister and the aCbinet on their conclusions in the next few days." US intelligence experts believe Iran would respond to US military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.

Citing unnamed experts, The Washington Post newspaper reported at the weekend that Iran would first attack US targets in Iraq and then target civilians in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

US officials would not discuss what evidence they had indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action if attacked, but the matter "is consuming a lot of time" throughout the US intelligence services, the report said.

Terrorism experts considered that Iranian-backed or controlled groups - namely, the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, its Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah - were better organised, trained and equipped than the al-Qa'ida network, which carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

The UN Security Council issued a statement last Wednesday calling on Iran to halt uranium enrichment within 30 days.

"If 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," a source was quoted as saying in the report.

"There will be no invasion of Iran, but the nuclear sites will bedestroyed. This is not something that will happen imminently - maybe this year, maybe next year."

The belief in some US government departments was that an attack was now "all but inevitable", the newspaper said.