Saturday, April 01, 2006

MoD Denies Iran Military Meeting

BBC News:
Reports that military officers will meet government officials on Monday to discuss possible military action against Iran have been denied. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said there was no truth whatsoever in the claims, made in the Sunday Telegraph.

He said: "No such meeting between defence, foreign office and other officials is taking place." READ MORE

But BBC Defence Correspondent Paul Wood said US plans for a possible strike are thought to be at an advanced stage.

He pointed out that many defence analysts expected that British military officials would have a wide range of contingency plans available including one for a possible US air strike on Iran.

"There is no sense that such a strike is imminent however there is well sourced and persistent speculation that American covert activities aimed at Iran are already underway," he said.

The Sunday Telegraph said: "A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran."

It stated that senior military officials would attend the meeting, along with officials from the Foreign Office and Downing Street.

But, in addition to denying that there would be any such meeting, the MoD said: "There will be no briefing of the prime minister and the Cabinet office in this regard, nor are there any plans for such a briefing."

'Strong signal'

Last week the five permanent members of the UN Security Council gave Iran 30 days to suspend uranium enrichment or face isolation.

According to the newspaper report, "an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is 'inevitable' if Tehran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands".

Tehran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful and has rejected the council's demand.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the meeting in Berlin sent "a very strong signal to Iran that the international community is united".

And UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the council might pass a legally-binding resolution if Iran did not comply, leaving a possibility of sanctions.