Richard Beeston of The London Times contemplates possible US military action against Iran and the Iranian response:
Experts agree that America has the military capability to destroy Iran’s dozen known atomic sites. US forces virtually surround Iran with military air bases to the west in Afghanistan, to the east in Iraq, Turkey and Qatar and the south in Oman and Diego Garcia. The US Navy also has a carrier group in the Gulf, armed with attack aircraft and Tomahawk cruise missiles. B2 stealth bombers flying from mainland America could also be used.
The air campaign would not be easy. The Iranians have been preparing for an attack. Key sites are ringed with air defences and buried underground. Sensitive parts of the Natanz facility are concealed 18 metres (60ft) underground and protected by reinforced concrete two meters thick. Similar protection has been built around the uranium conversion site at Esfahan.
“American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq centre in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq,” said the Global Security consultantcy.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Gardiner, a former US Air Force officer, predicted that knocking out nuclear sites could be over in less than a week. But he gave warning that would only be the beginning.
Iran has threatened to defend itself if attacked. It could use medium-range missiles to hit Israel or US military targets in Iraq and the region. It could also use its missiles and submarines to attack shipping in the Gulf, the main export route for much of the world’s energy needs. “Once you have dealt with the nuclear sites you would have to expand the targets,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Gardiner. “There are another 125 to deal with including chemical plants, missile launchers, airfields and submarines.”
While this huge US offensive is underway Iran would almost certainly deploy its most powerful weapon. It would unleash a counter-attack through proxies in the region. Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia, would attack Israel. Moqtadr al-Sadr, the militant Iraqi Shia religious leader, could order his Mahdi Army to rise up against American and British forces in Iraq. Iranian-backed groups could wreak havoc against Western targets across the world.
Beeston may have misidentified Iran’s most powerful possible weapon, when he fails to discuss the possibility of Iran attempting to use WMDs against US forces in Iraq.
The Iranian Islamofascist regime has always manifested an obsessive hostility toward the United States combined with a penchant for extreme violence. In 1979, using “student” surrogates to provide a thin veneer of separation from official responsibility, they violated International Law, invaded the US Embassy, and took US diplomatic personnel hostage. Iran is generally believed to have arranged the 1983 suicide bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon, which killed 241 US servicemen. In 1984, William Buckley, CIA Station Chief in Beirut, was kidnapped, and subsequently tortured to death by Iran. The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, is generally believed to have been contracted by Iran to Libya as retaliation for the accidental shooting down six months earlier of Iran Air Flight 655 by the US Vincennes.
It is impossible to imagine that Iran would fail to respond to a US or Israeli attack on its nuclear weapons production facilities with anything less than attacks on US military personnel (and/or civilian targets) by means featuring the greatest lethality within its power.
Assuming that the Iranian response were to be somehow thwarted, or proved unsuccessful in compelling this administration to withdraw from the Middle East, as (Osama frequently reminds us) the Beirut barracks bombing persuaded an earlier administration to withdraw from Lebanon, once the air campaign imagined by Richard Beeson is completed, the door will certainly be open to land invasion and regime replacement.
We just have to hope that the Ahmadinejad regime does not have a completed bomb ready to use on US forces at the time of the final Mullah-dammerung, or that US theatre defense is effective enough to preclude successful delivery.