According to DEBKAfile’s Washington sources, the Pentagon’s most recent game model on military measures to dispose of Iran’s nuclear threat concludes it will be necessary to topple the Islamic republic’s regime at the same time.
The first stage would be a bombing mission against the regime’s primary prop, the Revolutionary Guards.
The second stage would be the destruction of known and probable nuclear sites – a much harder mission given the hundreds of sites known and unknown number and carefully camouflaged underground behind cunning window-dressing. US intelligence estimates as many as 350 sites. It does not have precise knowledge of which are the most important or even which are active.
Regime change in stage three would entail ground action.
At present, there are no air bases within range for carrying out stages two and three. Sufficient US troops for overthrowing the regime would pose a problem given Iran’s land area of four times that of Iraq.
Furthermore, there is no assurance that Iran would wait for stages 2 or even 3. Iranian agents may well pre-empt US action or retaliate by sabotage strikes or terrorist action inside America.
Co-opting Israel’s air might to the operation poses problems too. The Israelis are found to know as little about the locations of installations as the Americans. To reach Iran, Israeli warplanes would have to fly east over Saudi Arabia and Jordan, or north over Turkey. The distance of some targets, such as Iran’s nuclear sites in the Caspian Sea region, is too great for Israeli planes to make the round trip.
Notwithstanding these impediments, America cannot afford to give up its military option and must keep it afloat as a deterrent, say the authors of the Pentagon game model.