For the first time since the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program was exposed in 2002, the Iranian government is dropping the pretense that it is developing nuclear technology purely for peaceful purposes. Iran has developed nuclear war plans to deter U.S. and Israeli aggression and retaliate against it, a top adviser to Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi announced in a strategic analysis.
Defense Ministry analyst Alireza Saeidabadi’s detailed analysis, published last week on a website that Iran’s intelligence ministry runs, examines several scenarios in which Iran could become embroiled in a shooting war with the United States or Israel.
One of the scenarios Iranian military planners must consider is a strategic nuclear U.S. strike on Iran, he writes. If that occurred, Iranian planning documents call for attacks against U.S. interests “on the world stage,” his analysis says.
The Iranian military should “prioritize its air force and ballistic missile fleet” in dealing with a conventional attack from Israel, Saeidabadi writes.
But in the event Israel uses unconventional weapons against Iran, “then Iran should employ a nuclear strategy.”
Similarly, if Iran and the United States get engaged in naval clashes in the Persian Gulf, Iran should “use its sea power for hit-and-run attacks, commando attacks, and use anti-shipping missiles” against U.S. naval vessels.
“But if the United States launches an unconventional attack, Iran needs to respond with a nuclear strategy,” the Iranian defense ministry analyst contends.
The meaning is clear to former Revolutionary Guards officer Reza Kahlili. “He means that Iran should be prepared with the capability of nuclear weapons to respond” if an enemy were to launch a nuclear strike against Iran, says Kahlili, author of a recent memoir, “A Time to Betray.”
“The use of nuclear technology for peaceful means is just a front,” Kahlili told Newsmax. “They are prepared to go to war and will not give up the bomb project, which they feel is very close to being able to arm their ballistic missiles with nuclear war heads.”
This is the first time that a senior Iranian government official has made an authorized public statement acknowledging that Iran has developed the military doctrine needed to employ nuclear weapons on the battlefield.
Although both President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei insist that Iran has the right to enrich uranium and to develop nuclear technology, both have stated consistently that Iran has no interest in nuclear weapons, and that Islam even forbids the use of such weapons.
Defense ministry officials’ talking openly about a nuclear war fighting doctrine turns on its head the long-stated public position of the Islamic Republic that Iran “couldn’t possibly want a nuclear weapon because their ideology and the religious rulings of Ayatollah Khomeini prohibited it,” says Kenneth Katzman, a former CIA analyst who is the top Iran expert at the Congressional Research Service.
Many U.S. experts have been skeptical of such Iranian disclaimers for years. But these latest Iranian statements give added weight to the view that Iranian officials say one thing in public, while doing exactly the opposite behind closed doors.
Former Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter, who tracked nuclear weapons proliferation and verified arms control treaties with the Russian Federation and others for the Bush administration, believes that these latest Iranian statements “can only mean that Iran would target Israeli or U.S. nuclear facilities, or that it would employ nuclear weapons.”
“This language appears to take Iran from nuclear weapons acquisition planning into nuclear weapons employment doctrine, and is therefore quite serious,” DeSutter told Newsmax.
The article, which appeared at intelligence ministry website alef.ir, carried a blaring headline with a quote from the deputy chairman of Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Iran could get involved in a military conflict in the future,” the vice chief said.
While the deputy chief of the joint staff was not named in the article, a brief item on Iran’s state-run television network in July noted that Ayatollah Khamenei has just named Rear Admiral Saleh as deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with specific responsibilities for planning and budgetary affairs.
The brief television announcement gave no further information about the new vice chief and in the article last week his quote ran with his title and a picture with a blank face.
The article also states that Iran should be prepared to launch attacks against the continental United States, against economic targets, with the aim of “weakening the morale of the people,” language similar to that used by Osama bin Laden to justify the 9/11 attacks.
The Defense Ministry analysis is not a fiery propaganda document, but rather a measured examination of the real-world environment, and this is why it should be taken so seriously.
Regarding Israel, for example, the author refrains from polemics.
The Islamic Republic authorities “need to examine more closely what war with Israel would mean,” he states. “To do so, we first need to analyze Israel’s military capabilities. Israel has an estimated 200 nuclear warheads, as well as chemical and biological weapons. So if there is a conflict, one must first determine whether it will be a conventional war, or a nuclear war.”
Israel believes that Iran “threatens its existence,” and is therefore worried about Iran’s steadily improving relationships with its neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, the Iranian Defense Ministry analyst writes.
To counter Iran’s regional influence, “Israel is expanding relations with Russia, Georgia, and some Central Asia states,” he writes. “Iran must keep Israel’s intentions in mind and therefore should pursue friendly cooperation with its neighbors, especially its Arab neighbors, to reduce Israel’s influence in the region.”
The analyst also argues that the United States is over-extended militarily because of its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The only way the United States could attack Iran would be after a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq,” he states.
“Thus, the more the United States withdraws its forces from Iraq, the greater the chance of a military conflict with Iran.”