“With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] capable of reaching the United States by 2015,” claimed a Pentagon report that was declassified on Monday. The almost simultaneous timing of two key recent revelations – this and Israeli accusations that Syria had transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon – has contributed to a fresh escalation of tensions in the Middle East and to speculation that the stage is being set for a military show-down.
The war of words has become particularly harsh, and threats are now being exchanged openly between the United States and Iran: the first salvo since President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and a troubling development. “We are not taking any options off the table as we pursue the pressure and engagement tracks,” the Pentagon’s press secretary, Geoff Morrell, said this week. “The president always has at his disposal a full array of options, including use of the military … It is clearly not our preferred course of action but it has never been, nor is it now, off the table.”
Days ago it was revealed that the US military was actively preparing for war against Iran. “The Pentagon and US Central Command are updating military plans to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, preparing up-to-date options for the president in the event he decides to take such action,” CNN reported on Monday.
The Iranians, meanwhile, have embarked on a show of force of th…