INTERNATIONAL

U.S. poised to attack Iran?

Hasan Suroor

10,000 targets can be hit in a single air raid

LONDON: American plans for a military strike on Iran are "complete'' and the attack is to be launched "any day'', New Statesman magazine has said.

In an alarming cover story in its latest issue titled "Attack Revealed: America's plans to invade Iran'', the Left-wing journal claims that American preparations "extend far beyond'' targeting only Iran's suspected nuclear sites. What Americans are planning, it says, is a "major conventional war'' that will "enable President Bush to destroy Iran's military, political and economic infrastructure overnight using conventional weapons''.

In a report, "Ready to Attack'', Dan Plesch, a leading defence and security expert at the School of Oriental and African Studies, quotes British military sources as saying that the U.S. has been preparing for an armed confrontation with Iran for four years.

Preparations

"The U.S. military switched its whole focus on Iran'' as soon as the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled and continued to make preparations even while being "bogged down'' in Iraq.

"The U.S. army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for `Operation Iranian Freedom'. Admiral Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command, has inherited computerised plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term),'' the report says.

Giving details of American military planning, Mr Plesch says: "Any U.S. general planning to attack Iran can now assume that at least 10,000 targets can be hit in a single raid, with airplanes flying from the U.S. or Diego Garcia. In the past year, unlimited funding for military technology has taken `smart bombs' to a new level.''

In an accompanying report, the journal's U.S. editor Andrew Stephen writes that although he has not spoken to anyone in the U.S. administration who thinks that an attack on Iran is imminent, "insiders'' do not rule out such an eventuality.

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