At about the time that a Russian intelligence agent was assuring a Western colleague that President Vladimir Putin does not believe in an Americans attack on Iran, various Russian publications were coming out with the opposite message.
The most detailed appeared in the Moscow weekly Argumenty Nedeli on March 26.
Key passages are quoted hereunder:
The long-awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 am on April 6, Good Friday, according to Russian military experts close to the Russian General Staff.
The attack is slated to last 12 hours… Friday is the Sabbath in Iran. In the course of the attack, code-named Operation Bite, about 20 targets are marked for bombing; the list includes uranium enrichment facilities, research centers and laboratories.
The first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant where Russian engineers are working is supposed to be spared from destruction. The US attack plan reportedly calls for the Iranian air defense system to be degraded, for numerous Iranian warships to be sunk in the Persian Gulf, and for the most important headquarters of the Iranian armed forces to be wiped out.
The attacks will be mounted from a number of bases, including the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is currently home to B-52 bombers equipped with standoff missiles. Also participating in the air strikes will be US naval aviation from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as those of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
Additional cruise missiles will be fired from submarines in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of the Arabian peninsula.
The goal is allegedly to set back Iran’s nuclear program by several years.
This article was reissued by RIA-Novosti Russian news agency in different languages – but not English. It was run as a top item on numerous Italian and German blogs, but has been mostly ignored by American websites.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly quotes observers in Moscow as detecting in the publications the fingerprints of a high-level Kremlin leak for the apparent purpose of raising a war alarm. The next day, RIA-Novosty ran this item:
Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by US armed forces near Iran’s borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.
“The latest military intelligence data point to heightened US military preparations for both and air and ground operations against Iran,” the official said, adding that the Pentagon had probably not yet made a final decision as to when the attack will be launched.”
He said the Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran “that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at minimal cost.”
Moscow‘s dependability versus Washington’s adventurism
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources note that the RIA-Novosty dispatch takes the Argumenty Nedeli item two steps further:
1. It cites for the first time the normally unmentionable Russian military intelligence; the Russian media prefer to quote official or unnamed military sources.
2. The item suggests American concentrations of military strength not only on the Iraq-Iranian border and the Persian Gulf, but also along Iran’s northern borders in Central Asia and the Caucasian, in republics in those regions which are bound to Washington by military accords and are home to US bases.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources reconcile the contrasting reports pumped out from Moscow by the existence of two parallel tracks; one, the Russian intelligence officer, encountered by chance by a Western colleague at a conference in Europe, is meant to channel a discreet message to update Washington on the real Kremlin stance on the Iranian nuclear issue. It makes two essential points: The Russian firm will not be allowed to finish the Bushehr reactor or deliver fuel in the form of nuclear rods – is one; and Moscow does not believe the US will attack Iran – is the other.
(See The View from Kremlin-I, above this article).
The second track openly funnels deliberate disinformation to stir up war fever, depict the Americans as on the point of a military operation against Iran and underscore the cleverness of Russian military intelligence in plumbing America’s innermost strategic secrets.
This is a kind of scare tactic to convince Iran’s leaders that an American attack is upon them, on the one hand, and on the other, to drive home to them the importance of maintaining good relations with dependable Moscow, who will be there for Tehran in its hour of need against American belligerence.
The Kremlin also hit on this second track to conjure up for the benefit of the Muslim world the image of a steady, responsible power which puts them on guard against American adventurism.
But what happens to Moscow’s credibility if the first week of April comes and goes and the Americans fail to attack Iran? Only a week is left to find out.