US air strike to extend beyond Iranian nuclear sites

The US has drawn up plans for air strikes on Iran that extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military structure, it has been revealed.

It is thought that any such attack, if ordered, would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command and control centres.

The US insists it is not planning to attack and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment. But diplomatic sources have said that, as a fallback, senior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected their targets. The list includes Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list, sources told the BBC.

The trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon - which it denies.

Details of the US plans emerged as the UN nuclear watchdog warned that Iran could be just six months from acquiring the ability to enrich industrial-scale uranium - a key step in building a nuclear bomb.

Mohammad Al Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he expected Tehran would ignore a UN deadline to suspend enrichment work by today, reports.

Mr El Baradei also said he expected Tehran to ignore the UN deadline to suspend enrichment work.

His words came amid reports that Washington has drawn up a list of Iranian targets for air strikes.

It was claimed that George Bush would order US warplanes to strike the country's entire military structure if Tehran was linked to a major attack on US forces in Iraq or if it posed a 'perceived nuclear threat'.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would stop its enrichment programme and return to talks but only if Western nations also halted their enrichment programmes, says.

Among the Iranian people there is not much awareness of the drum beats of war. The local media is heavily controlled and censored and many Iranians do not speak a foreign language to allow them to access the international press.

Independent websites in Persian have been filtered by the government in what some here believe is a deliberate attempt by the government to keep its own people in the dark.

Unsubstantiated rumours circulate about when an attack might come but everyone goes about their lives as normal.

There is no sense that people are preparing for difficult times ahead - but there is uncertainty and confusion about the future, BBC reports.

Source: sources

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

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Author`s name Alex Naumov