UK preparing plans for possible war with Iran

Posted on February 26, 2012

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The UK is drawing up plans to send hundreds of troops and an extra nuclear sub to the Gulf as tension mounts with Iran. Defence chiefs are convinced the UK will be swiftly sucked into any new conflict with Tehran’s regime.

They say it is a matter of “when”, not “if” the war breaks out. 18 to 24 months is the likely timescale.

The Army, Royal Navy and RAF will have crucial roles if hostilities are triggered by president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear stand-off with the world. The UK will first fly an infantry battalion to the United Arab Emirates, our strong ally in the region.

The move would be a public show of support, demonstrating that Britain is ready to defend the UAE it it comes under attack from Iran. The UAE is separated from Iran by just 34 miles of sea across the Strait of Hormuz. Further troops could follow if our other allies Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar ask for help.

The Royal Navy has already quietly gathered seven warships in the Persian Gulf. HMS Daring – one of its newest and most powerful destroyers – arrived in the region last month to join Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll. Minesweepers Pembroke, Quora, Middleton and Ramsey are based in Bahrain and a nuclear submarine is lurking in the area. Under the war plan, a second sub armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles would be deployed.

The RAF would send Typhoon and Tornado jets to reinforce helicopter and transport plane crews already stationed in Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the UAE.

A senior Whitehall official said: “MoD planners went into overdrive at the start of the year. Conflict is seen as inevitable as long as the regime pursue their nuclear ambitions.

“Britain would be sucked in whether we like it or not, probably via Iranian attacks on our forces in Afghanistan next door to them.”

The senior source added: “We also have some very important allies in the region and we stand ready to help them with troops.”

Tensions were ratcheted up by the announcement of US and EU sanctions on Tehran’s oil to take effect in July. It might lead to Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz – cutting off much of the world’s oil. Air strikes by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities are seen as the most likely trigger for conflict.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has told MPs that a military option must not be taken off the table. A MoD spokesman said: “We conduct contingency planning for numerous possible scenarios around the world. We want a negotiated solution, not a military one.”

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Posted in: iran politics