Britain ‘on board’ for US strikes on Iran

British defence officials have held talks with their Pentagon counterparts about how they could help out if America chose to bomb Iran.

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  • Washington sources say that America has shelved plans for an all-out assault, drawn up to destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities and take out the Islamist regime.

     
     

    The Sunday Telegraph has learned that President Bush’s White House national security council is discussing instead a plan to launch pinpoint attacks on bases operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force, blamed for training Iraqi militants.

    Pentagon officials have revealed that President Bush won an understanding with Gordon Brown in July that Britain would support air strikes if they could be justified as a counter-terrorist operation.

    Since then discussions about what Britain might contribute militarily, to combat Iranian retaliation that would follow US air strikes, have been held between ministers and officials in the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence.

    Vincent Cannistraro — who served as intelligence chief on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council and then as head of operations for the CIA’s counter-terrorist centre — said: “What’s on the table right now is tactical strikes.”

    Last night, Downing Street declined to comment on the suggestion. But Mr Cannistraro has talked about the preparations to senior Pentagon officials and with military and intelligence contacts in the UK.

    He said: “The British Government is in accord with plans to launch limited strikes on facilities inside Iran, on the basis of counter-terrorism.” While the US Air Force and naval jets could carry out raids without help from the RAF, the Pentagon is keen to have the Royal Navy’s cooperation in the event of an attack, to prevent Iran from sowing mines in the Gulf to block oil exports in retaliation.

    Mr Cannistraro said: “The British have to be a major auxiliary to this plan. It’s not just for political reasons: the US doesn’t have a lot of mine clearing capability in the Gulf. The Dutch and the British do.

    “There will be renewed discussions with British defence officials about what role Britain would perform in the naval sphere. If there was a retaliatory response by the Iranians, they might close the Straits of Hormuz and that would affect the entire West

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