February 18, 2006
Iran's Defensive Strategy

By John Quirk

The world has been focused on the recent diplomatic failures with Iran and the defiance it continues to exhibit over its nuclear ambitions. Recent events have demonstrated that the Europeans are tired of Iranian tactics and brinkmanship. The effort to go to the UN Security Council and impose sanctions has brought Europe and especially France closer to the American point of view. Even Jacques Chirac threatened Iran several weeks ago, stating publicly that France has the nuclear option of protecting itself from a rogue state with nuclear weapons.

While this unity is designed with the intent of halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the Western allies often ignore the broader implications of Iran seeking to achieve its foreign policy and national security goals.

Iran continues to threaten Israel, fund terrorism, and to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. In addition to its holocaust denial scenario and defiance of its major European trading partners, Iran has not only specific goals for its foreign policy but military plans to defend itself.

In December, 2005 the Atlantic Monthly laid out a scenario of how Israel might attack Iran. The magazine even contained an interactive full color DVD complete with illustrations and Israeli jets striking targets in Iran. Later the Pentagon revealed its own potential attack plan suggesting a major military strike by American warships. This scenario has hundreds of new cruise and tomahawk missiles being launched by our carriers, submarines and Arleigh Burke destroyers based in the Persian Gulf. Rumors abounded the U.S. also had two secret Special Forces bases near Iran ready to drop commandoes against selected Iranian sites.

The Israelis recently acquired newly-developed U.S. bunker busters that can penetrate deep into the Iranian nuclear research and development facilities. The U.S. says there are about 477 targets that can be destroyed by air attacks and missile attacks. The Israelis claim they only need to take out about 50 key nuclear sites to set the Iranian program back 5 to 7 years or longer. Both the American and Israeli scenarios are designed to take out nuclear facilities, not to invade Iran or destroy major cities. Although some of the various scenarios may be designed as disinformation on the part of both the Americans and Israelis, the Iranians are taking these potential attack scenarios seriously.

What are the likely Iranian responses?

The first thing to recognize is the difference between Iran and Iraq. Prior to the last Iraq War, rumors circulated that the Iraqis had plans of WMD attacks, terrorists in the U.S. (or channeling terrorist to the U.S. from France and the UK) and also had a strong Revolutionary Guard that would inflict heavy casualties on the Americans and our allies.

Twenty-one days after the start of hostilities, Iraq was defeated and there were no WMD attacks and not a single terrorist attack outside Iraqi borders.

The Iranians have designed a much different defensive strategy. They know the U.S. is neither capable nor interested in a ground war invasion. They know that both Israel and America seeks to destroy only its nuclear facilities not invade or destroy its cities. Some radical mullahs, as apart of a doomsday type cult in Iran, however, truly believe the U.S. is intent on destroying the centuries old Persian culture.

Iran’s leadership also knows that U.S. foreign policy, urged on by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel, want to see a non-fundamentalist regime in Iran be the dominant leader in the region.

Thus the Iranians have interpreted all of these potential actions as signs of disrespect (in every negotiating session with the European Union the Iranians have commented that the U.S. shows them no respect).

Over the last five years the Iranians have also created the following defensive attack strategy:

1) Accelerate the development of several, maybe up to 5 nuclear bombs, coupled with a deployment strategy of missile technology gained from Pakistan, China and North Korea. These missiles are now capable of being equipped with nuclear weapons could hit Israel, London and most of the 7th Fleet targets (American ships and bases in the Persian Gulf).

2) Iran has fully-trained and equipped terrorists established in the USA, Venezuela, Mexico and probably Canada. These operatives may have weapons of mass destruction and also have plans to bomb American shopping centers and/or symbolic targets to create fear and mass panic that will hopefully damage the American economy.

These terrorist are zealots who may and probably will engage in suicide bombings. These particular spy/terrorists are compartmentalized from and not part of Hezbollah who have their bases in Venezuela, Canada and covert operatives in the USA.

3) Strike at targets within Europe. The French government under Chirac in 2003 made the mistake of issuing over 5,000 visas for Iranian “students” to come to France. France was trying to placate its own Islamic community and ingratiate itself with oil rich Iran. Many of these Iranian students obtained French passports and then migrated to Canada, Venezuela and some to the USA.

The Iranians have every intention of retaliating against an attack on their soil. They believe that negotiations with Europe, the UN and the U.S. are over and they could care less about economic sanctions.

Iran is also not interested in using “oil” as a weapon. They know the U.S. has many new sources of oil, huge reserves, and that the U.S. believes a one week attack against Iranian nuclear targets would not significantly impact the world economy. American diplomats have assured the European Union, China, Japan and its other closest allies any attack on Iran would be over in a week or less. The Iranians also know this and know oil can’t be used as a weapon.

Some of the moderate mullahs in Iran believe an attack, while devastating to their nuclear ambitions, would not destroy their religion, culture or their fundamentalist Islamic government. The more radical leadership is seeking to destroy Israel once and for all and aiming also to seriously damage the United States through terrorist attacks.

The missing link here is the failure of diplomacy and a fait accompli that war is looming. While the Bush Administration is suggesting radio broadcasts to encourage dissidents in Iran, its real strategy is to have the EU and Russia do more to pressure Iran and to even have Republican and Democrats forge a unified front to demand Bush to take military action. The Bush Administration is still smarting over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and it wants our European allies and Congress to call for military action against Iran. While it is likely there will be much rhetoric on all sides between now and the November Congressional elections, it is highly likely any military action will take place after November 2006 and toward the remaining months of the Bush presidency.

John Patrick Quirk is the author of a number of books and articles on national security and intelligence. He can be contacted at irgglobal@aol.com

John Quirk

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