Pentagon Warns Against Israeli Attack on Iran

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen: ‘A Third Front … Would Be Extremely Stressful’


U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman warned against any Israeli attack on Iran Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, who was in Israel over the weekend, issued a strong warning today about the dangers of a military attack on Iran.

At a Pentagon press conference, Mullen was asked, “How concerned are you … that Israel may undertake a unilateral strike against Iran by the end of the year?”

“My strong preference, here, is to handle all of this diplomatically with the other powers of governments, ours and many others, as opposed to any kind of strike occurring,” he answered. “This is a very unstable part of the world. And I don’t need it to be more unstable.”

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Nine Americans were killed, deadliest incident for U.S. forces in 3 years

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. troops abandoned a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan where militants killed nine of their comrades this week, officials said Wednesday, in another sign of the struggle facing foreign and Afghan security forces strung out along the mountainous border.

Elsewhere in the frontier region, NATO launched artillery and helicopter strikes in Pakistan after coming under insurgent rocket fire, officials said.

The violence is another indication of the growing strength of the Taliban-led insurgency, especially in Afghanistan’s east, where the outpost near the village of Wanat was breached by militants on Sunday. Nine Americans were killed in the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in three years.

Read moreNine Americans were killed, deadliest incident for U.S. forces in 3 years

Iran ready to strike at Israel’s nuclear heart

Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, defence sources said last week.

The movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 1,250 miles, followed a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israeli air force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Israel believes Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.

The sources said Iran was preparing to retaliate for any onslaught by firing missiles at Dimona, where Israel’s own nuclear weapons are believed to be made.

Major-General Mohammad Jafari, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, told a Tehran daily: “This country [Israel] is completely within the range of the Islamic Republic’s missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime – despite all its abilities – cannot confront it.”

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Top US commander briefed on IDF’s four-front strategy in potential Iran war context

Top US commander Adm. Michael Mullen sees for himself
Top US commander Adm. Michael Mullen sees for himself

The visiting Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, carried out a guided tour of Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip over the weekend. It was led by the IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and OCs Northern and Southern Commands, Maj. Gens. Eisenkott and Galant.

He was briefed on IDF tactics in a war on all these potential flashpoints in the context of a comprehensive conflict with Iran and then held long conversations with defense minister Ehud Barak and Ashkenazi.

DEBKAfile‘s military sources report that it is very unusual for the top American commander to carry out a close, on-the-spot study of Israel’s potential war fronts. It was prompted on the one hand by skepticism in parts of the US high command of Israel’s ability to simultaneously strike Iran’s nuclear installations and fight off attacks from three borders while, at the same time, Adm. Mullen showed he was open to persuasion that the IDF’s prospective tactics and war plans were workable.

Military circles in Washington, commenting on the large-scale air maneuver Israel carried out with Greece earlier in June, have opined that 100 warplanes are not enough for the Israel Air Force to destroy all of Iran’s secret nuclear sites; more than 1,000 would be needed. Israel military tacticians in contact with US commanders have countered that, while Iran’s secret nuclear locations are scattered and buried deep, still, every chain has weak links and is therefore vulnerable.

The tough threats issued by Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Mohamed Ali Jafari on Saturday, June 28, were prompted by the Adm. Mullen’s Israeli border tour, word of which was flashed to Tehran by Syrian-Iranian observation posts inside Syrian and Lebanese borders.

(The Sunday Times added that Iran moved its ballistic Shihab-3 missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among its possible targets.)

Saturday, DEBKAfile reported:

The IRGC chief, Mohammad Ali Jafari issued Tehran’s toughest and most explicit threats yet in response to recent reports of Israeli preparations to strike Iran’s nuclear installations.

Hinting at an American attack, he said: “If there is a confrontation between us and the enemy from outside the region , definitely the scope will reach the oil issue.”

After this action (of imposing controls on the Gulf waterway), the oil price will rise very considerably,” he said.

Read moreTop US commander briefed on IDF’s four-front strategy in potential Iran war context

Why “President Obama” will cause World War III

OK, maybe the headline is a little misleading, but let me explain.

You’ve probably seen polls out this week that show Barack Obama opening up a lead in the race for the White House, quite possibly as large as double digits. That could change quickly — Michael Dukakis’ 17-point lead over George H.W. Bush in 1988 is now the stuff of legend — but with gas prices rising toward $5-a-gallon and Americans’ homes now worth less than they were 3 1/2 years ago, the GOP and the White House is well aware that there are big problems looming in November.

Which means only one thing.

We — or at least our closest regional ally, Israel — need to start a war with Iran! Pronto! As in, before January 20, 2009. For all the talk over the last generation of an “October surprise” in an American election, we’ve arguably never had one before. But things could be different this time in around.

I noted here recently that I’ve been avoiding some recent scare stories about planned military attacks on Iran’s incipient nuclear program, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I believe that while Dick Cheney clearly wants to strike Tehran, there are also now saner people within the Bush administration, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and many of the top Pentagon brass. And those recent reports have come from sources that have mixed credibility in my mind, Rupert Murdoch’s British papers and the Israeli press.

But this story comes from CBS News, and it’s alarming. There a new factor that’s been tossed into the mix, and has given Israeli leaders and the Cheney faction new life on the issue.

It’s “President Barack Obama.”

CBS consultant Michael Oren says Israel doesn’t want to wait for a new administration.

“The Israelis have been assured by the Bush administration that the Bush administration will not allow Iran to nuclearize,” Oren said. “Israelis are uncertain about what would be the policies of the next administration vis-à-vis Iran.”

Israel’s message is simple: If you don’t, we will. Israel held a dress rehearsal for a strike earlier this month, but military analysts say Israel can not do it alone.

“Keep in mind that Israel does not have strategic bombers,” Oren said. “The Israeli Air Force is not the American Air Force. Israel can not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program.”

The U.S. with its stealth bombers and cruise missiles has a much greater capability. Vice President Cheney is said to favor a strike, but both Mullen and Defense Secretary Gates are opposed to an attack which could touch off a third war in the region.

Mullen is Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who left last night to meet with the Israelis. To be sure, Americans — including Obama, of course — and much of the rest of the world don’t want Iran to develop nuclear weapons; the nuclear club already has too many members. In fact, my sense after watching Obama’s recent speech to AIPAC is that his stance on that is tougher than people give him credit for. There are still positive memories of how Israel in a down-and-dirty 1981 airstrike was able to destroy a Saddam Hussein nuclear start-up in Iraq.

But this isn’t 1981. Tehran learned from Baghdad’s mistake — it’s nuclear start-up facilities are a lot better protected, and it would be hard to successfully strike them without significant civilian casualties, especially if, heaven forbid, tactical nuclear bombs were needed to reach them.

Read moreWhy “President Obama” will cause World War III

Joint Chiefs of Staff: US prepping military options against Iran

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the Pentagon is planning “potential” military actions against Iran, reports The Washington Post.

Mullen criticized Iran’s “‘increasingly lethal and malign influence’ in Iraq,” writes Ann Scott Tyson for the Post.

Addressing concerns about the US military’s capability of dealing with yet another conflict at a time when forces are purportedly stretched thin, Mullen said war with Iran “would be ‘extremely stressing’ but not impossible for U.S. forces, pointing specifically to reserve capabilities in the Navy and Air Force,” Tyson notes.

“It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability,” she quotes the U.S.’s top military leader at a Pentagon news conference.

Mullen’s assertion comes a day after American forces reportedly fired warning shots at Iranian speedboats in the Persian Gulf, a confrontation that Iran denies took place.

A prior incident involving U.S. forces in the Strait of Hormuz and Iranian speedboats in January of this year–which Republican White House candidates used (with the notable exception of Ron Paul) as a saber-rattling opportunity during a nationally-televised debate–was later discredited as a virtual fabrication.

Excerpts from the Post article, available in full here, follow…

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…Mullen made clear that he prefers a diplomatic solution to the tensions with Iran and does not foresee any imminent military action. “I have no expectations that we’re going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future,” he said.

Mullen’s statements and others by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently signal a new rhetorical onslaught by the Bush administration against Iran, amid what officials say is increased Iranian provision of weapons, training and financing to Iraqi groups that are attacking and killing Americans.

In a speech Monday at West Point, Gates said Iran “is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.” He said a war with Iran would be “disastrous on a number of levels. But the military option must be kept on the table given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat.”

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, who was nominated this week to head all U.S. forces in the Middle East, is preparing a briefing soon to lay out detailed evidence of increased Iranian involvement in Iraq, Mullen said. The briefing will detail, for example, the discovery in Iraq of weapons that were very recently manufactured in Iran, he said.

Source: The Raw Story