Regime change in Iran if Bush wins?

By Aaron Klein

Following leaked reports yesterday that Israel is ready to strike against several of Iran’s nuclear power facilities if Russia supplies the Ayatollahs with rods for enriching uranium, a senior U.S. official said America will take actions to overturn the regime in Iran if President Bush is elected for a second term.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the London Times Bush would provide assistance to Iran’s “hugely dissatisfied” population to help them revolt against the ruling theocracy.

The U.S. would not use military force, as in Iraq, but “if Bush is re-elected there will be much more intervention in the internal affairs of Iran,” said the official, who stressed the war on terror would “continue to be relentless.”

The Times said the official hinted at a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, explaining there was a window of opportunity for destroying Iran’s main nuclear complex at Bushehr next year that would close if Russia delivered crucial fuel rods, which are currently sitting in a Russian port.

Israel has said that if the rods, which are needed to enrich uranium, are shipped, it would strike several of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The official also said Britain, France and Germany should take a tougher line on Iran, voicing disdain with the European Union for its attempts to defuse the Iranian nuclear threat through diplomacy.

The official dismissed suggestions Washington would hesitate to seek regime change in Iran, and stressed the Iranian population is extremely dissatisfied with the mullahs, and with Iran’s sluggish economy.

Russia is expected to deliver the enriching rods late next year after a dispute over financial terms is resolved.

Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has obligated itself to random inspections supervised by the IAEA. But the treaty allows Iran to produce nuclear material as long as it can plausibly claim the production is for “peaceful purposes.”

Experts warn that Iran can build the infrastructure needed to make nuclear weapons, telling inspectors they need the material for “energy and nuclear medicine research,” and then kick out the inspectors, renounce the treaty and quickly assemble a nuclear arsenal, as did North Korea, which is now said to have ten nuclear warheads.

An Israeli defense source said yesterday “Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors – especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help – to go critical.”

The source was also quoted as saying that any Israeli strike on Iran’s reactors would probably be carried out by long-range F-15I jets, flying over Turkey, with simultaneous operations by commandos on the ground. Israel has completed test exercises of the strike.

Despite the U.S. and Israeli threats, one of Iran’s top ruling clerics vowed yesterday the Islamic republic would continue to pursue its controversial nuclear program. “We are resolute. It is worth achieving it at any cost,” Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the Guardians Council, said.