To Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Bomb Program, 350 Targets Must Be Hit

No one familiar with Iran’s record of broken promises on its hidden nuclear weapons program will be surprised by the allegations leveled against Tehran this week.
On Wednesday, November 17, outgoing US secretary of state Colin Powell said to reporters during a South American tour: US has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles for the delivery of nuclear weapons. “I have seen information that they not only have the missiles but are working hard to put the two together.”
The highly classified, unverified information Powell referred to was described in more detail by the Washington Post the next day: According to one official with access to the material, a “walk-in” source approached US intelligence earlier this month with more than 1,000 pages purported to be Iranian drawings and technical documents, including a nuclear warhead design and modifications to enable Iranian ballistic missiles to delivery an atomic strike. The warhead design is based on implosion and adjustments aimed at fitting the warhead on existing Iranian missiles.
debkafile‘s military experts believe the data referred to the Shehab-3 and its improved version, the Shehab-4.
The US official said he would not have revealed this much had not Powell alluded to the intelligence publicly. If the information is confirmed, it would mean the Islamic republic is further along than previously known in developing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.
It would also mean that Tehran has been stringing along the International Atomic Energy Agency – the IAEA – and the three European powers, Britain, France and Germany, in months of negotiation. The upshot was an Iranian promise to the three, which was trumpeted this week, to suspend uranium enrichment for an indefinite period in three days time, in return for magnanimous incentives. Such promises have been made before and never last long. Three days later, on November 25, the International Atomic Energy Agency – the IAEA – holds a board meeting in Vienna. It must decide whether to accept Iran’s latest promise or refer Iran’s nuclear breaches to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
Teheran therefore delivered its pledge in a race for time to save itself from sanctions that could threaten the Islamic republic’s regime’s survival.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly 182 just out on Friday, November 19, was the first publication to name the Nour garden suburb of Lavizan in northeast Tehran as yet another covert site Iran has concealed from the IAEA. There, not only is enrichment going forward but also tests on lethal gases and weaponized biological agents.
According to debkafile‘s Washington sources, the Pentagon’s most recent game model on military measures to dispose of Iran’s nuclear threat concludes it will be necessary to topple the Islamic republic’s regime at the same time.
The first stage would be a bombing mission against the regime’s primary prop, the Revolutionary Guards.
The second stage would be the destruction of known and probable nuclear sites – a much harder mission given the hundreds of sites known and unknown number and carefully camouflaged underground behind cunning window-dressing. US intelligence estimates as many as 350 sites. It does not have precise knowledge of which are the most important or even which are active.
Regime change in stage three would entail ground action.
At present, there are no air bases within range for carrying out stages two and three. Sufficient US troops for overthrowing the regime would pose a problem given Iran’s land area of four times that of Iraq.
Furthermore, there is no assurance that Iran would wait for stages 2 or even 3. Iranian agents may well pre-empt US action or retaliate by sabotage strikes or terrorist action inside America.
Co-opting Israel’s air might to the operation poses problems too. The Israelis are found to know as little about the locations of installations as the Americans. To reach Iran, Israeli warplanes would have to fly east over Saudi Arabia and Jordan, or north over Turkey. The distance of some targets, such as Iran’s nuclear sites in the Caspian Sea region, is too great for Israeli planes to make the round trip.
Notwithstanding these impediments, America cannot afford to give up its military option and must keep it afloat as a deterrent, say the authors of the Pentagon game model.
A sample out of Iran’s bag of hide-and-seek tricks with the international nuclear watchdog was exposed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 160 on June 4, 2004:
The most secret section of the latest report the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director Mohammed ElBaradai has drafted on Iran’s nuclear program is also the most embarrassing for the international nuclear watchdog. We reveal exclusively that when inspectors arrived in Iran in mid-May and asked to revisit installations they saw in February or April, they were astonished to find empty spaces. When they questioned their Iranian escorts, they were greeted with blank stares. “What installations?” the officials asked.
The inspectors pulled out photos from previous visits and showed the Iranian officials what had been there before. The Iranians dismissed them as having been shot in other places that looked the same – or grafted there by “hostile intelligence bodies.”
When the inspectors persevered and reported the existence of aerial photos showing the exact location of the missing facilities, the Iranians shrugged.
The amazing fact is that the Iranians had dismantled and swept away all the structures containing incriminating evidence of continuing uranium enrichment for weapons production so completely that there was no sign a building had ever stood there. The fresh flowerbeds were still in the same places as before but lawns had been extended to cover the sites, most probably with thick layers of earth. All the inspectors could do was to remove soil samples and take them away.
According to our sources, US officials involved in the Iranian nuclear issue have no doubt that the installations were not destroyed but removed to secret subterranean sites probably built under military bases scattered around the country and that the Iranians are industriously advancing their forbidden programs.
Five months later, we have discovered one of those clandestine destinations to be the Nour “nuclear suburb” of Tehran.

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