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. US military doubts bombing of Iran would succeed: report
NEW YORK, July 2 (AFP) Jul 02, 2006
Senior military officers have warned the US administration that bombing raids against Iran would likely fail to destroy the country's nuclear program due to a lack of reliable intelligence, the New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.

Pentagon officers "have told the administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran's nuclear program," Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in the magazine's latest edition.

The military officers are concerned about contingency plans to launch air strikes against Iran because of the absence of actionable intelligence or concrete evidence of bomb making, the magazine said, citing unnamed active duty and retired officers and officials.

The article also alleges that the White House had advocated the possible use of a nuclear device to attack Iran's uranium enrichment plant in Natanz but that the military leadership ultimately succeeded in having the option dropped in late April.

The military's experience in Iraq, in which US intelligence on weapons of mass destruction proved "deeply flawed," has made senior officers wary in the case of a possible air campaign against Iran, the New Yorker said.

"The target array in Iran is huge, but it's amorphous.... We built this big monster with Iraq, and there was nothing there. This is son of Iraq," one high-ranking general told the magazine.

A former senior intelligence official is quoted as saying that Pentagon officers are asking: "What's the evidence? We've got a million tentacles out there, overt and covert, and these guys (the Iranians) have been working on this for eighteen years, and we have nothing?"

Entitled "Last Stand: The military's problem with the President's Iran policy", the article written by journalist Seymour Hersh portrays military officers as anxious about history's judgement and increasingly willing to air their objections to policies set out by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"The system is starting to sense the end of the road, and they don't want to be condemned by history," a retired four-star general told the magazine.

"They want to be able to say, We stood up.'"

The Bush administration has refused to rule out possible military action if diplomatic efforts fail to persuade Iran to halt sensitive uranium enrichment work.

The US and other world powers on Thursday gave Tehran one more week to provide a "clear and substantive response" to an international proposal designed to defuse the long-running crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.

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