From the Guardian Unlimited:
US plans Iran strike - report
The US is planning military action against Iran because George Bush is intent on regime change in Tehran - and not just as a contingency if diplomatic efforts fail to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programme, it was reported yesterday.
In the New Yorker magazine, Seymour Hersh, America's best known investigative journalist, concluded that the Bush administration is even considering the use of a tactical nuclear weapon against deep Iranian bunkers, but that top generals in the Pentagon are attempting to take that option off the table.
Hersh, who helped break the story of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, quoted an unnamed Pentagon adviser as saying the resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians was "a juggernaut that has to be stopped" and that some senior officers and officials were considering resignation over the issue.
There is also rising concern in the US military and abroad that Mr Bush's goal in Iran is not counter-proliferation but regime change, the article reports. The president and his aides now refer to the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a potential Adolf Hitler, according to a former senior intelligence official.
Another government consultant is quoted as saying Mr Bush believes he must do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do" and "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy".
"The word I'm hearing is messianic," Mr Hersh said yesterday on CNN. "[Bush] is politically free. He really thinks he has a chance and this is his mission."
Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism operations chief said Mr Bush had not yet made up his mind about the use of direct military action against Iran.
"There is a battle for Bush's soul over that," he said, adding that Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser is adamantly opposed to a war.
However, Mr Cannistraro said covert military action, in the form of special forces troops identifying targets and aiding dissident groups, is already under way.
"It's been authorised, and it's going on to the extent that there is some lethality to it. Some people have been killed."
He said US-backed Baluchi Sunni guerrillas had been involved in an attack in Sistan-Baluchistan last month in which over 20 Iranian government officials were killed and the governor of the provincial capital was wounded. The Iranian government had blamed British intelligence for the incident.
The Washington Post reported that while no military action is likely in the short term, the possible targets went beyond suspected nuclear installations and included the option of a "more extensive bombing campaign designed to destroy an array of military and political targets".
It is a widespread belief in Washington's neo-conservative circles that a comprehensive air assault would disorient the Tehran government and galvanise the Iranian people into bringing it down. The departure of senior neo-conservatives from the administration after Mr Bush's 2004 re-election was thought to have weakened their clout, but Mr Hersh's report suggested that the president's personal convictions may yet prove decisive.
More of the article at the link.
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