Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran Larisa
Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007
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
"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
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
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
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." Yet, he added that "Iran certainly has missiles
and probably some chemical capability."
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,
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."
The bulk of the paper is devoted to a detailed analysis of specific
military strategies for such an attack, of ongoing attempts to
destabilize Iran by inciting its ethnic minorities, and of the
considerations surrounding the possible employment of nuclear weapons.
In particular, Plesch and Butcher examine what is known as Global
Strike - the capability to project military power from the United
States to anywhere in the world, which was announced by STRATCOM as
having initial operational capability in December 2005. It is the that
capacity that could provide strategic bombers and missiles to
devastate Iran on just a few hours notice.
Iran has a weak air force and anti aircraft capability, almost all of
it is 20-30 years old and it lacks modern integrated communications.
Not only will these forces be rapidly destroyed by US air power, but
Iranian ground and air forces will have to fight without protection
from air attack.
British military sources stated on condition of anonymity, that "the
US military switched its whole focus to Iran" from March 2003. It
continued this focus even though it had infantry bogged down in
fighting the insurgency in Iraq.
Global Strike could be combined with already-existing "regional
operational plans for limited war with Iran, such as Oplan 1002-04,
for an attack on the western province of Kuzhestan, or Oplan 1019
which deals with preventing Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz,
and therefore keeping open oil lanes vital to the US economy."
The Marines are not all tied down fighting in Iraq. Several Marine
forces are assembling in the Gulf, each with its own aircraft carrier.
These carrier forces can each conduct a version of the D-Day landings.
They come with landing craft, tanks, jump-jets, thousands of troops
and hundreds more cruise missiles. Their task is to destroy Iranian
forces able to attack oil tankers and to secure oilfields and
installations. They have trained for this mission since the Iranian
revolution of 1979 as is indicated in this battle map of Hormuz
illustrating an advert for combat training software.
Special Forces units - which are believed to already be operating
within Iran - would be available to carry out search-and-destroy
missions and incite internal uprisings, while US Army units in both
Iraq and Afghanistan could mount air and missile attacks on Iranian
forces, which are heavily concentrated along the Iran-Iraq border, as
well as protecting their own supply lines within Iraq:
A key assessment in any war with Iran concerns Basra province and the
Kuwait border. It is likely that Iran and its sympathizers could take
control of population centres and interrupt oil supplies, if it was in
their interest to do so. However it is unlikely that they could make
any sustained effort against Kuwait or interrupt supply lines north
from Kuwait to central Iraq. US firepower is simply too great for any
Iranian conventional force.
Experts question the report's conclusions
Former CIA analyst and Deputy Director for Transportation Security,
Antiterrorism Assistance Training, and Special Operations in the State
Department's Office of Counterterrorism, Larry Johnson, does not agree
with the report's findings.
"The report seems to accept without question that US air force and
navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore
the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all
major military, political, economic and transport capabilities," said
Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.
"But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran,
if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms
of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of
inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are."
There is also the situation of US soldiers in Iraq and the supply
routes that would have to be protected to ensure that US forces had
what they needed. Plesch explains that ""firepower is an effective
means of securing supply routes during conventional war and in
conventional war a higher loss rate is expected."
"However as we say do not assume that the Iraqi Shiia will rally to
Tehran - the quietist Shiia tradition favoured by Sistani may regard
itself as justified if imploding Iranian power can be argued to reduce
US problems in Iraq, not increase them."
John Pike, Director of Global Security, a Washington-based military,
intelligence, and security clearinghouse, says that the question of
Iraq is the one issue at the center of any questions regarding Iran.
"The situation in Iraq is a wild card, though it may be presumed that
Iran would mount attacks on the US at some remove, rather than
upsetting the apple-cart in its own front yard," wrote Pike in an
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."
Larisa Alexandrovna is managing editor of investigative news for Raw
Story and regularly reports on intelligence and national security
stories. Contact: ***@rawstory.com
Muriel Kane is research director for Raw Story.
Predicted in the bible.
Daniel 8:3-11 (New International Version)
3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing
beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was
than the other but grew up later. 4 I watched the ram as he charged
toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand
against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he
pleased and became great.
(Note: As explained later the two horns represent 2 powers, Media
Persia which are pretty much Iraq and Iran now a days. Also keep in
mind that the other power/horn started pushing it's weight around
after the first horn, i.e. that horn grew up later. Iraq has been
powerless and Iran is next.)
5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent
between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without
touching the ground. 6 He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen
standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage. 7 I saw
him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two
horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked
him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram
from his power.
(Note this goat is explained as a Greek Goat, Democracy is a Greek
government and it is the democratic countries that knocked the first
horn off, making Iraq powerless. Iran is to share the same fate. This
Prominent horn is the U.S. which has and is leading the attack on the
Ram, also note that it is a flying goat i.e. these wars are mostly
fought from the air. The ram is not killed but made powerless.)
8 The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his
horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up
toward the four winds of heaven.
(Note: Afterwards the U.S. will not be in charge i.e. the prominent
horn breaks off and 4 others grow in the U.S. place, 4 powers leading
this democracy or democratic countries uniting into 4 groups.)
9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew
in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land.
10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw
of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set
itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the
daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought
(Note: Out of one of these 4 powers the Antichrist will emerge, the
little horn controlling the one group which will end up controlling
the democratic/greek goat.
19 He said: "I am going to tell you what will happen later in the
of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.
20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and
Persia. 21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn
between his eyes is the first king. 22 The four horns that replaced
the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge
from his nation but will not have the same power.
23 "In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become
completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will
arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He
will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he
does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. 25 He will
cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When
they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the
Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
(Note this stern face King and the little horn on one of the 4 horns
is the same, the Antichrist.)