21An 80-page study written by two British security analysts and released on August 28 makes a chilling estimation of the overwhelming force that the US would use in the event of any attack on Iran. “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 paper declared.
The authors, Dr Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher, concluded on the basis of publicly available sources that “US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets within 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 short notice.”
Plesch and Butcher analysed the available types of US bombers and conventional bombs and calculated that 100 strategic bombers, each with 100 “smart” bombs, would be enough to hit 10,000 individual targets. “This strike power alone is sufficient to destroy all major Iranian political, military, economic and transport capabilities,” the authors conclude. “Such a strike would take ‘shock and awe’ to a new level and leave Iran with few if any conventional military capabilities to block the straits of Hormuz or provide conventional military support to insurgents in Iraq.”
The study all but ruled out the US use of nuclear weapons, declaring that “the human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.” But the authors did acknowledge “clear evidence that nuclear weapons use [against Iran] is being given serious political consideration” in the US. And while stating that a US or British nuclear attack on Iran was “most unlikely,” Plesch and Butcher did not think it impossible. They calculated that nearly three million “prompt deaths” would occur in the event that 300 kilotonne nuclear bombs were dropped on just 11 suspected Iranian WMD sites.
A substantial portion of the paper dealt with the various US options, using military forces already in place within the region, to counter Iranian responses to a US attack. “Iran has a weak airforce 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,” the authors stated.
The paper noted the existence of standing US war plans to counter any blockade of the strategic straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, and to seize the western Iranian province of Khurzestan, where the bulk of the country’s oil production occurs. It detailed the ability of the US military in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan to devastate forces and bases inside Iran hundreds of kilometres from the border without a ground invasion. It cited a variety of sources pointing to covert US operations already taking place inside Iran to identify targets and foment armed rebellion among ethnic and religious minorities.
Considering the question “how likely is an attack?” the authors pointed out: “The [US] administration has steadfastly refused to remove the military option from the table, and has continued to prepare to go to war. Congress rejected a proposal to require the president to consult it before going to war with Iran.” The study cited a number of menacing comments by senior Bush officials this year, as well as belligerent anti-Iranian statements by Republican and Democrat presidential candidates.