US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear
sites and include most of the country’s military infrastructure, the
BBC has learned.
The US insists it is not planning to attack, and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.
The UN has urged Iran to stop the programme or face economic sanctions.
But diplomatic sources have told the BBC that as a fallback plan,
senior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected
their target sets inside Iran.
That list includes Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list,
the sources say.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the trigger for such an
attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a
nuclear weapon – which it denies.
Alternatively, our correspondent adds, a high-casualty attack on US
forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it
were traced directly back to Tehran.
Long range B2 stealth bombers would drop so-called “bunker-busting”
bombs in an effort to penetrate the Natanz site, which is buried some
25m (27 yards) underground.
The BBC’s Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison says the news that
there are now two possible triggers for an attack is a concern to
Authorities insist there is no cause for alarm but ordinary people are now becoming a little worried, she says.
Earlier this month US officers in Iraq said they had evidence Iran was
providing weapons to Iraqi Shia militias. However the most senior US
military officer later cast doubt on this, saying that they only had
proof that weapons “made in Iran” were being used in Iraq.
Gen Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said he did not
know that the Iranian government “clearly knows or is complicit” in
At the time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the accusations
were “excuses to prolong the stay” of US forces in Iraq.
Middle East analysts have recently voiced their fears of catastrophic consequences for any such US attack on Iran.
Britain’s previous ambassador to Tehran, Sir Richard Dalton, told the
BBC it would backfire badly by probably encouraging the Iranian
government to develop a nuclear weapon in the long term.
Last year Iran resumed uranium enrichment – a process that can make
fuel for power stations or, if greatly enriched, material for a nuclear
Tehran insists its programme is for civil use only, but Western countries suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
The UN Security Council has called on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium by 21 February.