- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 2, 2006

LONDON — Senior British officials were to meet with military chiefs today to discuss the likely consequences of a military attack against Iran’s nuclear program, a senior foreign ministry official said.

Some British authorities think an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is “inevitable” if its leaders fail to comply with the United Nations’ demands to freeze their uranium-enrichment program, said the source, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.

However, planning for an attack could be complicated by Iran’s announcement yesterday that it had successfully tested a sonar-evading underwater missile that can travel at a record 220 mph, outpacing any enemy submarine or warship.

Today’s meeting will be attended by Gen. Michael Walker, the chief of the defense staff; Lt. Gen. Andrew Ridgway, the chief of defense intelligence; and Maj. Gen. Bill Rollo, the assistant chief of the general staff, as well as officials from the Foreign Office and the prime minister’s office.

The source said British defense chiefs think the Bush administration is prepared to conduct the attack on its own or with the assistance of Israel, if there is no other international support. British military chiefs think such an attack would be limited to a series of air strikes against nuclear plants.

Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. navy ships and submarines in the Persian Gulf would likely target air-defense systems at Iran’s nuclear installations.

That would enable attacks by B-2 stealth bombers equipped with eight 4,500-pound enhanced BLU-28 satellite-guided, bunker-busting bombs, flying from Diego Garcia, the isolated U.S. Navy base in the Indian Ocean; RAF Fairford, a British base in Gloucestershire; and Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri. There are at least eight known sites involved in the production of nuclear materials, although it is generally accepted that there are many more secret installations.

Any plan to attack Iran from the Gulf would have to take into account yesterday’s missile test, announced during war games by Revolutionary Guards Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi.

“This missile evades sonar technology under the water, and even if the enemy sonar system could detect its movement under the water, no warship could escape from it because of its high velocity,” Adm. Fadavi said. “The boats that can launch this missile have a technology that makes them stealthy and nobody could recognize them or act against them.”

Iran’s navy, which fought an extended “tanker war” with Iraq in the 1980s, is thought to include six submarines, three frigates and 30 missile craft, as well as dozens of coastal patrol boats.

The foreign ministry sources said today’s meeting “will set out to address the consequences for Britain in the event of an attack against Iran.”

“If Iran makes another strategic mistake such as ignoring demands by the U.N. 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 [the Defense Ministry] is that an attack is now all but inevitable,” he said.

The source said that the Israeli attack against Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 proved that a carefully planned limited operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities is the best military option.

However, the British military chiefs are concerned that an attack on Iran would “unhinge” areas patrolled by British forces in southern Iraq, an area mainly populated by Shi’ite Muslims with links to Iran. The source said the meeting would also address the economic impact if Iran was to retaliate by cutting off oil sales to the West.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide