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US plans military blitz against Iran's nuke sites

Planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 17:00 IST

The United States is drawing up plans for bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran from developing nuclear weapons, a media report said.

Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The war strategists are reporting to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as the US is updating plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear bomb ambitions, the report said

Teheran has repeatedly said that it is developing only a civilian energy programme.

"This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment," a senior Pentagon adviser told the newspaper. "This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."

The prospect of military action could put Washington at odds with Britain which fears that an attack would spark violence across the Middle East, reprisals in the West and may not cripple Teheran's nuclear programme.

However, the steady flow of disclosures about Iran's secret nuclear operations and the virulent anti-Israeli threats of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted the fresh assessment of military options by Washington.

The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices. They would fly from bases in Missouri with mid-air refuelling.

First Published: Feb 12, 2006 14:03 IST