DEBKAfile Special Report August 20, 2010, 1:04 PM (GMT+02:00)
IRGC forces on war alert
War preparations are reported by debkafile's military sources in Tehran and Damascus, debkafile's military sources report.
In Tehran, Iran's Revolutionary Guards announced Friday, Aug. 20: "IRGC is in full readiness to encounter firmly with the stupidity of the US and the Zionist regime."
In Damascus, Syrian prime minister Naji al-Otari gathered his ministers and heads of security and emergency services Thursday and ordered them to place all their services on immediate war readiness.
And sources close to the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas quoted him as saying that direct talks with Israel were not in the offing because "a big military surprise awaits the Middle East."
On Thursday, too, Tehran pitched its threat level high by warning that any attack on Iran's nuclear sites would be met by the IRGC "targeting the interests of the enemies in any part of the world."
Some Iranian sources have suggested that Israel's obsessive preoccupation with the Galant scandal (over a forged document designed to influence the choice of the next Israeli chief of staff) is a smokescreen for masking preparations for an imminent attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
In the United States, respected commentators this week talked and wrote openly about a possible war over Iran's progress toward a nuclear bomb capability.
Former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, who has excellent connections in Washington and Jerusalem, wrote: "The United States is more likely than Israel to launch an attack on Iran."
Lawrence Eagleburger, former US Secretary of State, had this to say about the activation of Iran's first reactor at Bushehr Saturday, Aug. 21: "The world's going to war over this. If Iran gets the weapon it's going to use it."
He urged an attack on Iran before it obtained a bomb.
Some other US experts suggest the world powers would wait longer than 11 months before weighing an attack, whereas informed American sources are talking for the first time in 14 months about a possible US-led multilateral Western attack on Iran which, according to debkafile's military sources, would be in conjunction with Germany, Britain and France.
In the first week of June, 2009, those sources note, US, UK and French forces carried out a joint exercise at the French Canjuers training facility near Toulon, simulating a marine attack with close air support on Iranian ground targets
British planes took off for the exercise from airbases in the UK, while US warplanes flew in from the USS Harry S. Truman and French jets from their carrier, the Charles de Gaulle. It was their first display of strength, in which the German frigate FGS Hessen also took part, for a combined air-sea-ground war offensive.
The Truman and the Hessen are currently stationed in the Gulf of Oman opposite the strategic Straits of Hormuz.
In an apparent bid to calm the rising war fever in America, the New York Times Friday reported that the Washington has assured Israel that an Iranian threat was not imminent but had been delayed for a year by problems in enriching uranium and divisions within the regime over how far to push their nuclear program But the NYT added suspicions in Israel that the enrichment problems may be a pretext to conceal a secret enrichment site yet to be discovered in tunnels being dug across the country, including some near Natanz. Tehran may then take everyone by surprise and jump up with a nuclear bomb - in the same way as it caught the world napping with a banned uranium enrichment industry turning out fuel for a bomb unhindered.
Simon Henderson, an eminent American expert on Iran, published an article Thursday on the imminent inauguration of the Bushehr reactor in which he stressed that the fuel rods it uses could produce enough plutonium-rich residue for building at least one nuclear bomb a year.
The plant will moreover provide cover for training an entire generation of Iranian nuclear scientists and technicians for its weapons industry. After all, the regime's nuclear and missile programs involved "evasion" and "an array of deceptive practices."
Yet not a word was heard in Israel - either from official sources or by media commentators - in advance of the ceremony inaugurating the Russian-built Bushehr reactor Saturday. All their efforts were bent on untangling the Galant affair and coping with its fallout. No wonder Iran, Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinians refused to believe this obsession could be so all-consuming and treated it as a red herring for deceiving them.