Western forces gather as Israel looks set to attack Iran

As Iran tests ballistic missile, Israel has only a short window in which to strike Iran's nuclear centrifuges

Column LAST UPDATED AT 07:38 ON Wed 4 Jul 2012

THE United States has ordered more ships and warplanes to the Gulf as allied commanders in Washington and London have been quietly shortening the odds on conflict with Iran this summer.
 
At the weekend, 100 members of the Tehran parliament signed a motion for a new law to empower Iranian naval and Revolutionary Guard units to attack tankers carrying non-Iranian oil and particularly those destined for the United States.

Yesterday, the Revolutionary Guard is reported to have test-fired a ballistic missile capable of striking Israel. The medium-range Shahab-3 missile was fired at a mock target in the Kavir Desert, according to Iran's Al-Alam TV network.

These moves follow the implementation of tougher sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear programme, which most western intelligence agencies now believe is aimed at producing a viable nuclear-tipped ballistic missile soon.
 
The United States has increased its minesweeper force in the Gulf to eight ships. The UK already has a long-standing patrol of minehunters there. US F-22 Raptor stealth fighter-bombers and F15c bombers have been sent to various bases throughout the region, and two aircraft carrier groups are on standby.
 
Britain has plans for putting a squadron of Typhoon Eurofighters in the Gulf, either in Qatar or the UAE. An infantry battalion can be moved at short notice. A western alliance led by the US, Britain and France is preparing forces to suppress Iran’s coastal anti-aircraft missile batteries and their shore-based anti-ship missiles if there is a sudden flare-up round the Straits of Hormuz.
 
In the past 48 hours, officials in Washington and London have lessened the likelihood that the Iranian military and Revolutionary Guard will try to shut the Straits of Hormuz. But fears have been growing in the past few weeks that Israel may carry out a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear centrifuges – principally those at Natanz.
 
Talks with Iran to cease enriching uranium to weapons-grade level have dramatically switched to the slow lane. After making some progress at ministerial level, the pace has dropped. The meeting next week is between technicians only and is expected to make little or no progress.
 
Israeli politicians, intelligence experts, and senior military officers – speaking both on and off the record – have been explaining over the past few months that Israel perceives it has only a limited "window of opportunity" this summer to mount a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
 
While targets are relatively easy to identify round Natanz  - now the main centre of centrifuges – it is feared that the new facilities being built at Fordow outside the holy city of Qom will be harder to detect and even harder to penetrate.

There, much of the facility and the halls for the centrifuges are being gouged deep into the mountains, hundred of meters underground. Only one of the new bunker-buster bombs capable of generating a small earthquake is likely to have any effect, and these could have unpredictable consequences.
 
The Israelis say that the attack by computer worms like Stuxnet and Flame in the control systems of the centrifuges at Natanz and in the oil pumping apparatus in southwest Iran have been disruptive – but this will not last. Both are part of a major cyber programme ordered by Barack Obama since the beginning of his presidency – according to revelations by David E Sanger of the New York Times in his new book Confront and Conceal.
 
"We only have a very limited time left," an Israeli general told me in a background briefing recently. "We have to the end of the summer. Our plans won’t be affected by the American presidential election, and even if we get a President Romney it won’t make much difference. It will take up to six months for him to get his team in place – and by then it may be too late."
 
A senior British military officer, charged with strategic advice to Prime Minister David Cameron, told me recently he thought the Israel-Iran standoff is the top-most strategic concern now in the Middle East, above the conflict in Syria, and the questionable stability of Egypt.
 
The sense that the Iran nuclear issue is reaching a decision point is now palpable. Sanctions, even before the new round, are biting hard. Oil exports from Iran have gone down 40 per cent since the beginning of the year, from about 2.5 million to 1.5 million barrels a day, and are still falling.
 
A reaction can be expected soon. · 

Disqus - noscript

Israel already has a stock of nuclear weapons - AND a history of unilaterally mounting attacks on its neighbours. Iran used to be a democracy, before Western Oil Interests financed the coup that overthrew it, and saddled Iran with an absolute monarch - who bought loads of goods from the West (mainly weapons) and was being encouraged to buy nuclear reactors as well, when the Shah was overthrown. I don't much like Iran... but I DON'T believe that my dislike, or America's or Israel's gives them ANY right to meddle in Iran's affairs. And I see no reason for Israel's current absurdly hypocritical monopoly on Nukes should continue. If nukes in the middle east are a BAD thing, then Let's bomb Israel's too!

I agree with Ron Walker. We should have nothing to do with any attack on Iran. Israel has flouted international nuclear proliferation law, and should be subjected to pressure - sanctions should be applied.. Why should their outrageous conduct be tacitly condoned by the West? If it's wrong in Iran, it's wrong in Israel. There should be pressure brought to bear to prevent Israel from mounting attacks on their neighbours. If it was wrong in Iraq, it is wrong in Israel. There are no grounds for preferential treatment. It's counter productive. Israel has become the most destabilising force in the region, because it has been literally allowed to get away with murder. This, as an Israeli friend described it, rots the soul.

It appears that once again, the cream of British Youth will be asked to fight and die, to support the greedy demands of the globalist asset strippers and the American and Zionist,
Empire.So who will be next Saudi Arabia? I suspect not.

The difference being Israel's had nuclear weapons since the 1960,s and hasn't used them Iran will use them without even blinking

Military hostilities with Iran should start on September the 19th

nicely put! let both Israel and Iran upon up their nuclear facilities....let there be a nuclear free middle east.

y don't both Israel and Iran open up their nuclear facilities.....lets have a nuclear free middle east..!!!

Once again we in the UK are being swept along in the slipstream of US foreign policy - the latter being driven by the self - serving American Jewish lobby.

It is a political and military maxim (or, at least, it used to be until Tony Blair took office) that Western Powers should only go to war when their own vital strategic interests are threatened and when all other avenues of negotiation have been exhausted - I can see NO vital strategic interest for the United Kingdom in expending yet more money and soldiers's lives on the altar of Greater Israel's (ie the United States) regional paranoia and territorial ambitions.

Israel has a vocal "Left Wing" lobby which, admirably, sees the expropriation of Palestinian land as reprehensible and, frankly, counter productive to any peace process. it is a great pity that this lobby is not given more media coverage beyond Israel's borders - then, maybe, world opinion might just influence wiser heads within Israel's body politic to adopt a less selfish and a more moderate stance.

Israel, by its own selfish and illegal policy of "land grabs" from its weaker neighbours in Palestine is wilfully creating enemies in the wider Moslem world and beyond - we, in the West, feel obliged (sometimes against our better judgement) to back Israel, even though, privately, we might strongly disagree with their policies and their actions - thus, quite unnecessarily, making enemies of our former friends and allies (eg Pakistan).

If the Israelis and the Americans want yet another war in the Middle East, let them get on with - just don't drag us into it as well.

Don't be ridiculous.

Judging by most of the comments it seems like the Brits just want to divert attention from their own imperialist history by dumping all attention and blame on the Jews.

If that's not anti-Semitism what is?

You are the ones who conquered and subdued most of the known world, sold opium to China, destroyed indigenous civilizations on at least three continents....

Israel and the Jewish people are just trying to survive in a very hostile environment.

The right to "meddle in their affairs" is called self defense.

The problem is not Israel. The problem is the Arabs. It always has been. On the day Israel was declared five Arab Armies attacked it. They have been attacking ever since.

With your mindless Israel bashing all you do is encourage Arab belligerence against, moving the goal of peace farther and farther away.

Anyone familiar with David Icke's writings/predictions will probably remember that he predicted a war in the Middle East a couple of year ago. He predicted that it would happen with Ed. Miliband leading the government. He claimed that Britain and America would support Israel and that Israel would take over all of the Middle East. I hope he is totally wrong, we have lost enough young men in the Middle East unrest, we do not want to lose anymore. Why can't Britain and America mind their own business. With all this talk of nuclear weapons perhaps we will see the end of the world in 2012 after all and the bible claims the world will end in fire this time!!!!

You have completely ignored the fact that Israel was created by the brutal murder and and removal of the original Arab inhabitants. That's what caused the Arabs to be hostile to Israel. They had every right to attack and defend innocent villager who were slaughtered by Jewish terrorists, whose leaders were criminals wanted by the British authorities in 1948.
Your arguments are thus rubbish. You are so proud of Israel having a TG person compete in Eurovision - so what? The Nazis also made great scientific achievements, that doesn't excuse their conquest of Europe. We MUST NOT excuse Israel continiuing murder of women n children in occupied lands. End of.

wouldnt you attack an artificial nation created by force on your land using biblical bullsbhit to justify theft?

Israel versus Iran....who to root for...I root for the poor villagers of the desert to make money selling aircraft wreckage!!!

We ALL got to stop this but now. Whatever problem Israel might have with Iran its about lying and cheating to the West as usual. Why and what do they fear in Israel? Paybacktime? Of what? So far they only took away 80% of the palestinian ground and Iran is far away to be involved. Anybody really believing that it might be a problem Iran having finally that nuke already in the late 70s initiated by the US? And Israel with the strongest air force after the US but as big as a hanky? I am sure this article misses half of the truth just to make heat against Iran and pro Israelian politics even the regular Israelis dont want to have. Long live Zion.

Luis, where did you go to school? You did not learn thinking on your own but repeating mainstream bubbles. The conflict is as old as 2500 years or is it as old with the settlement of Israel in 1948? You ever thought that there are bad and good people on all sides? You ever thought arabs might have a true reason with the illegal settlement of Israel (their view like the natives all over the world)