THE US AND IRAN
Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?
Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran's suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program.
It's hardly news that US President George Bush refuses to rule out possible military action against Iran if Tehran continues to pursue its controversial nuclear ambitions. But in Germany, speculation is mounting that Washington is preparing to carry out air strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear sites perhaps even as soon as early 2006.
German diplomats began speaking of the prospect two years ago -- long before the Bush administration decided to give the European Union more time to convince Iran to abandon its ambitions, or at the very least put its civilian nuclear program under international controls. But the growing likelihood of the military option is back in the headlines in Germany thanks to a slew of stories that have run in the national media here over the holidays.
The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter's past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his home and offices have been searched multiple times) for allegations that he published state secrets -- a charge that he claims would underscore rather than undermine the veracity of his work.
According to Ulfkotte's report, "western security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.
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Target Iran - Air Strikes
One potential military option that would be available to the United States includes the use of air strikes on Iranian weapons of mass destruction and missile facilities.
In all, there are perhaps two dozen suspected nuclear facilities in Iran. The 1000-megawatt nuclear plant Bushehr would likely be the target of such strikes. According to the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, the spent fuel from this facility would be capable of producing 50 to 75 bombs. Also, the suspected nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak will likely be targets of an air attack....
and still more information on GLOBAL LIGHTNING (yes, that's spelled correctly)
Intelligence and military sources in the United States and abroad are reporting on various factors that indicate a U.S. military hit on Iranian nuclear and military installations, that may involve tactical nuclear weapons, is in the final stages of preparation.
Likely targets for saturation bombing are the Bushehr nuclear power plant (where Russian and other foreign national technicians are present), a uranium mining site in Saghand near the city of Yazd, the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, a heavy water plant and radioisotope facility in Arak, the Ardekan Nuclear Fuel Unit, the Uranium Conversion Facility and Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center, the Tehran Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production Facility, the Tehran Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories, the Kalaye Electric Company in the Tehran suburbs, a reportedly dismantled uranium enrichment plant in Lashkar Abad, and the Radioactive Waste Storage Units in Karaj and Anarak.
rimary target: Bushehr nuclear reactor and hundreds of Russian technicians
Other first targets would be Shahab-I, II, and III missile launch sites, air bases (including the large Mehrabad air base/international airport near Tehran), naval installations on the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, command, control, communications and intelligence facilities.
Secondary targets would include civilian airports, radio and TV installations, telecommunications centers, government buildings, conventional power plants, highways and bridges, and rail lines.
Oil installations and commercial port facilities would likely be relatively untouched by U.S. forces in order to preserve them for U.S. oil and business interests.
There has been a rapid increase in training and readiness at a number of U.S. military installations involved with the planned primarily aerial attack.
These include a Pentagon order to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to be prepared to handle an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 trainees, including civilian contractors, who will be deployed for Iranian combat operations. Rucker is home to the US Army's aviation training command, including the helicopter training school.
In addition, there has been an increase in readiness at nearby Hurlburt Field in Florida, the home of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command.
The U.S. attack on Iran will primarily involve aviation (Navy, Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps) and special operations assets.
There has also been a noticeable increase in activity at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California, a primary live fire training activity located in a desert and mountainous environment similar to target areas in Iran.
From European intelligence agencies comes word that the United States has told its NATO allies to be prepared for a military strike on Iranian nuclear development and military installations.
CONPLAN 8022 GIVES THE U.S. NUCLEAR PREEMPTIVE STRIKE CAPABILITIES WORLD WIDE COMPLETELY AGAINST RUSSIAN WARNINGS NOT TO DO SO OR SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES WILL OCCUR
DEC 5 2005
The U.S. Strategic Command announced yesterday it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons, after last month testing its capacity for nuclear war against a fictional country believed to represent North Korea.
In a press release yesterday, STRATCOM said a new Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike on Nov. 18 “met requirements necessary to declare an initial operational capability.”
The requirements were met, it said, “following a rigorous test of integrated planning and operational execution capabilities during Exercise Global Lightning.”
The annual Global Lightning exercise last month tested U.S. strategic warfare capabilities, including the so called CONPLAN 8022 mission for a global strike, according to publicly available military documents.
CONPLAN 8022 is “a new strike plan that includes [a] pre emptive nuclear strike against weapons of mass destruction facilities anywhere in the world,” said Hans Kristensen, a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Kristensen first published the STRATCOM press release on his Web site, nukestrat.com.
Military analyst William Arkin, in a column on the Washington Post Web site in October, wrote that the classified exercise involved the response to a radiological “dirty bomb” attack on Alabama by the fictional country Purple or allied terrorists. “In the exercise, Purple is a Northeast Asian nation thinly veiled as North Korea,” according to Arkin.
Maj. Jeff Jones, STRATCOM spokesman, said today that the exercise incorporated various scenarios and added, “Everything is fictional that we put in the exercise.”
Global Lightning employed command and control personnel, according to the STRATCOM release.
Global strike attacks could be launched from U.S. long range bombers, nuclear submarines or land based ballistic missiles, according to the STRATCOM Web site.
The new command was created Aug. 9 in an attempt to integrate broad elements of U.S. military power into global strike plans and operations.
That, according to an Arkin commentary in the Washington Post in May, could include anything from electronic jamming to penetrating computer networks, to commando operations, to the use of a nuclear earth penetrator.
CONPLAN 8022, he wrote, is intended to address two scenarios using such capabilities: preventing a suspected imminent nuclear attack from a small state, and attacking an adversary’s suspected WMD infrastructure.
STRATCOM Commander Gen. James Cartwright said at an opening ceremony that the new command would help the country convey a “new kind of deterrence.”
According to the STRATCOM release, “The command’s performance during Global Lightning demonstrated preparedness to execute its mission of providing integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through decisive joint global effects in support of STRATCOM missions.”
According to Arkin’s article in May, CONPLAN 8022 was completed in 2003, “putting in place for the first time a pre emptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea.”
STRATCOM’s readiness for global strike was certified to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush in January 2004, Arkin reported.