US strikes on Iran predicted as tension rises over arms smuggling and nuclear fears
Julian Borger and Ian Black
Saturday September 15, 2007
"The growing US focus on confronting Iran in a proxy war inside Iraq risks triggering a direct conflict in the next few months, regional analysts are warning.....
"The proxy war that has been going on in Iraq may now cross the border. This is a very dangerous period," Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said......
In such circumstances, last week's Israeli air strike against a mystery site in northern Syria has triggered speculation over its motives. Israel has been silent about the attack.....
The US has called a meeting of major powers in Washington next Friday to discuss Iran's defiance of UN resolutions calling for its suspension of uranium enrichment. It comes amid signs that the Bush administration is running out of patience with diplomatic efforts to curb the nuclear programme. Hawks led by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, are intensifying their push for military action, with support from Israel and privately from some Sunni Gulf states.
"Washington is seriously reviewing plans to bomb not just nuclear sites, but oil sites, military sites and even leadership targets. The talk is of multiple targets," said Mr Cronin. "In Washington there is very serious discussion that this is a window that has to be looked at seriously because there is only six months to 'do something about Iran' before it will be looked at as a purely political issue."
Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism chief who is now a security analyst, said: "The decision to attack was made some time ago. It will be in two stages. If a smoking gun is found in terms of Iranian interference in Iraq, the US will retaliate on a tactical level, and they will strike against military targets. The second part of this is: Bush has made the decision to launch a strategic attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, although not before next year. He has been lining up some Sunni countries for tacit support for his actions."......"