The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.
The paper, “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East” – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.
“We wrote the report partly as we were surprised that this sort of quite elementary analysis had not been produced by the many well resourced Institutes in the United States,” wrote Plesch in an email to Raw Story on Tuesday.
Plesch and Butcher examine “what the military option might involve if it were picked up off the table and put into action” and conclude that based on open source analysis and their own assessments, the US has prepared its military for a “massive” attack against Iran, requiring little contingency planning and without a ground invasion.
The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.
- Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact.
- US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.
- US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.
- Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.
- Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.
- Israel is determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons yet has the conventional military capability only to wound Iran’s WMD programmes.
- The attitude of the UK is uncertain, with the Brown government and public opinion opposed psychologically to more war, yet, were Brown to support an attack he would probably carry a vote in Parliament. The UK is adamant that Iran must not acquire the bomb.
- The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.
When asked why the paper seems to indicate a certainty of Iranian WMD, Plesch made clear that “our paper is not, repeat not, about what Iran actually has or not.”
Most significantly, Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a “full-spectrum approach,” designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of “a weak or failed state.” Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration’s National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power. They suggest, therefore, that:
This wider form of air attack would be the most likely to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently long period of time to meet the administration’s current counterproliferation goals. It would also be consistent with the possible goal of employing military action is to overthrow the current Iranian government, since it would severely degrade the capability of the Iranian military (in particular revolutionary guards units and other ultra-loyalists) to keep armed opposition and separatist movements under control. It would also achieve the US objective of neutralizing Iran as a power in the region for many years to come.
However, it is the option that contains the greatest risk of increased global tension and hatred of the United States. The US would have few, if any allies for such a mission beyond Israel (and possibly the UK). Once undertaken, the imperatives for success would be enormous.
Butcher says he does not believe the US would use nuclear weapons, with some exceptions.
“My opinion is that [nuclear weapons] wouldn’t be used unless there was definite evidence that Iran has them too or is about to acquire them in a matter of days/weeks,” notes Butcher. “However, the Natanz facility has been so hardened that to destroy it MAY require nuclear weapons, and once an attack had started it may simply be a matter of following military logic and doctrine to full extent, which would call for the use of nukes if all other means failed.”
Plesch and Butcher write with concern about the political context within the United States:
This debate is bleeding over into the 2008 Presidential election, with evidence mounting that despite the public unpopularity of the war in Iraq, Iran is emerging as an issue over which Presidential candidates in both major American parties can show their strong national security bona fides. …
The debate on how to deal with Iran is thus occurring in a political context in the US that is hard for those in Europe or the Middle East to understand. A context that may seem to some to be divorced from reality, but with the US ability to project military power across the globe, the reality of Washington DC is one that matters perhaps above all else. …
We should not underestimate the Bush administration’s ability to convince itself that an “Iran of the regions” will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. So, do not be in the least surprised if the United States attacks Iran. Timing is an open question, but it is hard to find convincing arguments that war will be avoided, or at least ones that are convincing in Washington.
Plesch and Butcher are also interested in the attitudes of the current UK government, which has carefully avoided revealing what its position might be in the case of an attack. They point out, however, “One key caution is that regardless of the realities of Iran’s programme, the British public and elite may simply refuse to participate – almost out of bloody minded revenge for the Iraq deceit.”
And they conclude that even “if the attack is ‘successful’ and the US reasserts its global military dominance and reduces Iran to the status of an oil-rich failed state, then the risks to humanity in general and to the states of the Middle East are grave indeed.”
Just read some of the comments on this story:
Well, if it happens, there’ll be violence here, guaranteed.
Igor | Email | Homepage | 08.28.07 – 11:40 am
Which ever dumb bastard gives the order for this, he should be shot dead on the spot.
The Lone Ranger | Email | Homepage | 08.28.07 – 11:47 am
How entertaining. Some of you idiots seem to think we live in a democracy. What you or I think doesn’t mean shit. They will first attack here, probably in September then say the “Database” opps I mean Al-CIAda hit us, then we can have a “justifiable” war with Iran. China and Russia, who have invested billions, will be less than over joyed and we will really be in deep shit. We will have martial law in this country which will lead to very serious infighting which will lead to a civil war. Most likely at least half of us will be dead by next year, with thousands starving as there is not currently enough food in this country to feed us all for any length of time and there will be no incoming shipments. There will be no food, water or electricity in the cities therefore you can elect to die there or in a camp, transportation will be provided. Those currently not in denial will have acquired the necessary supplies, literature, and so forth to begin an existance anew far from current population centers. The military will act much as they presently do but the areas they patrol will contain individuals that are well armed and very much accustomed to the use of such arms and that will eventually eliminate the relatively few and very worn out military we now have. Then my friends the few that are left may, if not poisoned by radiation sickness as our returning troups currently are, be able to pick up the pieces and start again.
Wake up and smell the roses for soon they will all be dead.
John | Email | Homepage | 08.28.07 – 10:02 pm
and so on…
if you had read the last comment twenty years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were the words of a ‘nutcase’, but now, in 2007, with everything we know about the preparations in the USA for ‘something bad’ taking place they don’t seem so odd.
This is a strange situation. Everyone has advance warning of this attack. As we know, the people who could mobilize an army to prevent this, illegal, unprovoked, insane, criminal, attack from taking place are not intending to do anything that will be in any way effective.
One thing is for sure. If they do attack Iran and then try any sort of ground offensive, the Iranians will immediately go to guerilla warfare and the IEDs will start blasting the invaders from day one. They will also probably take this opportunity to eliminate anyone who is not ‘on side’ in their own country…though there will be few of them, because this outrage will most likely erase their differences in the short term. Or maybe not. Either way, an attack on Iran will be a disaster from every possible angle. It will be an act of absolutely pure evil, and no one who participates in it can claim that they ‘didn’t know’ they were being lied to about WMD or fall back on any other excuse, thanks to the debacle that is Iraq.
This time they will be guilty from the instant the order is given, and indeed, anyone who follows those orders should be shot, as the commenter says.
There is no excuse, no justification, no reason, no fact, no extrapolation of fact that a reasonable person could use to order this attack…but of course, we are not, and never have been dealing with reasonable people.
You know that.