Despite the Bush administration's
insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon
panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be
implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from
President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in
its latest issue.
The special planning group was established within the
office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according
to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in
the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the
March 4 issue.
The panel initially focused on destroying Iran's nuclear
facilities and on regime change but has more recently been
directed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in
supplying or aiding militants in Iraq, according to an Air
Force adviser and a Pentagon consultant, who were not
The consultant and a former senior intelligence official
both said that U.S. military and special-operations teams had
crossed the border from Iraq into Iran in pursuit of Iranian
operatives, according to the article.
In response to the report, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman
said: "The United States is not planning to go to war with
Iran. To suggest anything to the contrary is simply wrong,
misleading and mischievous.
"The United States has been very clear with respect to its
concerns regarding specific Iranian government activities. The
president has repeatedly stated publicly that this country is
going to work with allies in the region to address those
concerns through diplomatic efforts," Whitman said.
Pentagon officials say they maintain contingency plans for
literally dozens of potential conflicts around the world and
that all plans are subject to regular and ongoing review.
The article, citing unnamed current and former U.S.
officials, also said the Bush administration received
intelligence from Israel that Iran had developed an
intercontinental missile capable of delivering several small
warheads that could reach Europe. It added the validity of that
intelligence was still being debated.
The article also included an interview conducted in
December with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who
said that while he had no interest in initiating another war
with Israel, he was anticipating and preparing for another
Israeli attack sometime this year.
Israel launched a cross-border offensive against Hezbollah
in Lebanon last July.
Nasrallah also said he was open to talks with Washington if
such discussions "can be useful and influential in determining
American policy in the region," but they would be waste of time
if the purpose was to impose policy.
© Copyright 2007 Reuters Ltd