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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Government in secret talks about strike in Iran - Bush warns "Don't touch our ally Israel"

Government in secret talks about strike in Iran - Bush warns "Don't touch our ally Israel"

April 2, 2006

Government in secret talks about strike against Iran
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 02/04/2006)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=3UB5LQY3GXDG3QFIQMFCFF4AVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2006/04/02/wiran02.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/04/02/ixportaltop.html

The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence
A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence

Tomorrow's meeting will be attended by Gen Sir Michael Walker, the chief of the defence staff, Lt Gen Andrew Ridgway, the chief of defence intelligence and Maj Gen Bill Rollo, the assistant chief of the general staff, together with officials from the Foreign Office and Downing Street.

The International Atomic Energy Authority, the nuclear watchdog, believes that much of Iran's programme is now devoted to uranium enrichment and plutonium separation, technologies that could provide material for nuclear bombs to be developed in the next three years.

The United States government is hopeful that the military operation will be a multinational mission, but defence chiefs believe that the Bush administration is prepared to launch the attack on its own or with the assistance of Israel, if there is little international support. British military chiefs believe an attack would be limited to a series of air strikes against nuclear plants - a land assault is not being considered at the moment.

But confirmation that Britain has started contingency planning will undermine the claim last month by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that a military attack against Iran was "inconceivable".

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, insisted, during a visit to Blackburn yesterday, that all negotiating options - including the use of force - remained open in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

Gen Sir Michael Walker
General Sir Michael Walker

Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from US navy ships and submarines in the Gulf would, it is believed, target Iran's air defence systems at the nuclear installations.

That would enable attacks by B2 stealth bombers equipped with eight 4,500lb enhanced BLU-28 satellite-guided bunker-busting bombs, flying from Diego Garcia, the isolated US Navy base in the Indian Ocean, RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and Whiteman USAF base in Missouri.

It is understood that any direct British involvement in an attack would be limited but may extend to the use of the RAF's highly secret airborne early warning aircraft.

At the centre of the crisis is Washington's fear that an Iranian nuclear weapon could be used against Israel or US forces in the region, such as the American air base at Incirlik in Turkey.

The UN also believes that the production of a bomb could also lead to further destabilisation in the Middle East, which would result in Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia all developing nuclear weapons programmes.

Click to enlarge

A senior Foreign Office 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 both border Iran. The CDS will then brief the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on their conclusions in the next few 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. The belief in some areas of Whitehall is that an attack is now all but inevitable.

There will be no invasion of Iran but the nuclear sites will be destroyed. This is not something that will happen imminently, maybe this year, maybe next year. Jack Straw is making exactly the same noises that the Government did in March 2003 when it spoke about the likelihood of a war in Iraq.

"Then the Government said the war was neither inevitable or imminent and then attacked."

The source said that the Israeli attack against Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 proved that a limited operation was the best military option.

The Israeli air force launched raids against the plant, which intelligence suggested was being used to develop a nuclear bomb for use against Israel.

Military chiefs also plan tomorrow to discuss fears that an attack within Iran will "unhinge" southern Iraq - where British troops are based - an area mainly populated by Shia Muslims who have strong political and religious links to Iran.

They are concerned that this could delay any withdrawal of troops this year or next. There could also be consequences for British and US troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran.

The MoD meeting will address the economic issues that could arise if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president - who became the subject of international condemnation last year when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" - cuts off oil supplies to the West in reprisal.

Iran factfile

There are thought to be at least eight known sites within Iran involved in the production of nuclear materials, although it is generally accepted that there are many more secret installations.

Iran has successfully tested a Fajr-3 missile that can reach Israel, avoiding radar and hitting several targets using multiple warheads, its military has confirmed.

21 March 2006: Bush warns Iran: don't touch our ally Israel

14 March 2006: Bush ready to initiate 'regime change' for the mullahs

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Bush warns Iran: don't touch our ally Israel
By Francis Harris in Washington
(Filed: 21/03/2006)

President George W Bush yesterday issued a stark warning to Iran when he said that America's military would be ordered into action if Teheran carried out its threat to attack Israel.

President George W Bush
No beating around the Bush: "I've made it clear that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel"

Using the most uncompromising language he has employed to date in dealing with Iran's nuclear threat, Mr Bush said: "I see a threat in Iran. The threat is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel.

"I've made it clear and I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel," Mr Bush said to applause.

In his response to a question that followed a speech in Cleveland, Mr Bush made clear that diplomacy was America's preferred approach to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme.

But the pledge to defend Israel with force marked a vigorous response to a statement by Iran's radical president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has stated that "Israel must be wiped off the map".

Mr Bush's promise of force came as diplomats met to finalise the United Nation's first major diplomatic intervention against Iran.

Mr Bush was sending an unmistakable signal to Iran's leaders in Teheran that any military or nuclear adventure will draw a swift response.

Last night, Britain's high-rise United Nations mission in the heart of Manhattan was at the centre of diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to continue negotiations about its nuclear programme as the representatives of America, Russia, China, France and Germany arrived to discuss the next steps.

Western diplomatic sources said that the first result could come as early as today, when the UN Security Council would be asked to issue a statement condemning the covert Iranian nuclear effort.

A western diplomat said: "The vast majority of Security Council members are ready to act. Russia and China are not signed up yet, but they have given pretty strong signals that they will."

Iran factfile

The so-called presidential statement would not contain any threats, but is seen by the West as a key first step to applying international pressure on Teheran.

But as always since the Iraq war, memories of the run-up to conflict with Saddam cloud the debate.

The Russians are hell-bent on preventing the Americans from securing Security Council action which might later be used to justify stronger measures.

So diplomats are working to find a formula that keeps the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), involved in the process while also bringing the heavy guns of the Security Council to bear.

That could take a few more days. Once that has happened, western diplomats say the ball will be in Iran's court.

Earlier this month, Teheran responded angrily when it was referred to the Security Council. Angered by talk of sanctions, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Teheran's envoy to the IAEA, said: "The United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the US wishes to choose, let the ball roll."

editorial@telegraph-usa.com

14 March 2006: Bush ready to initiate 'regime change' for the mullahs
23 January 2006: Israel 'will not sit back' and let Iran build atomic weapons
27 October 2005: Wipe Israel off map, says Iran's president

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