IRAN IS PREPARING FOR WAR AS U.S. RATCHETS UP PRESSURE

FEB 20 2005

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

 

Hamid-Reza, a 23-year-old clothing store manager, lost relatives in the Iran-Iraq war and says he would be ready to give his life for Iran against any aggressor if it would bring his country victory. But he fears his country would be no match for the United States, which is locked in an increasingly high-pitched diplomatic battle with Tehran over its nuclear program.

 

"What will I do?" he asked, speaking on condition his family name not be published. "Get inside an inner tube and go fight against the American battleships in the Persian Gulf?"

 

As tensions between Tehran and Washington have increased over Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology, Iran has begun publicly preparing for a possible US attack, announcing efforts to bolster and mobilize recruits in citizens' militias and making plans to engage in the type of "asymmetrical" warfare that has plagued American troops in neighboring Iraq, officials and analysts say.

 

"Iran would respond within 15 minutes to any attack by the United States or any other country," an Iranian official close to the conservative camp that runs the country's security and military apparatus said on condition of anonymity.

 

Tehran insists it needs nuclear power to meet its burgeoning domestic energy needs and bolster its scientific community. But Washington accuses Iran of using nuclear energy as a fig leaf for a weapons program. France, Britain, and Germany, also suspicious of Iran's nuclear ambitions, have insisted on strict inspections and have urged Iran to give up components of its nuclear program.

 

US officials say they support the European diplomatic efforts but refuse to rule out a military option if Iran refuses to give up its alleged pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon said this month that, as a matter of routine preparedness, it had upgraded its Iranian war plans.

 

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities also have signaled they have been getting ready for war. Newspapers have announced efforts to increase the number of the country's 7 million strong "Basiji" militia, which were deployed in human wave attacks against Saddam Hussein's army during the war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988. Iranian military authorities have paraded long-range, North Korean-designed Shahab missiles before television cameras.

 

One Western military specialist based in Tehran said on condition of anonymity that over the last year, Iran was sharpening its abilities to wage a guerrilla war.

 

It remains unclear how much of the recent military activity amounts to an actual mobilization and how much is a propaganda ploy. Iranian officials and analysts have said that they want to highlight the potential costs of an attack on Iran to frighten the American public and raise the stakes for US officials.

 

"Right now it's a psychological war," said Nasser Hadian, professor of political science at the University of Tehran, who recently returned from a three-year stint as a scholar at Columbia University. "Pressure from other countries and inside America is important, but it won't prevent an attack. The only thing that will prevent an attack is that if America knows it will pay a heavy price."  

 

MORE OF THIS STORY IS AT THE ORIGINAL LINK - PAGE PAGE 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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