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Tehran readies 40,000 suicide bombers
Marie Colvin/The London Times, April 17, 2006


IRAN has 40,000 trained suicide bombers ready to strike at US and British targets if the nation's nuclear sites are attacked by the West.

In Iran, the main force of suicide bombers, named the Special Unit of Martyr Seekers in the Revolutionary Guards, was first seen last month when members marched in a military parade, dressed in olive-green uniforms with explosive packs around their waists and detonators held high.

Hassan Abbasi, head of the Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards, said about 29 Western targets had been identified.

"We are ready to attack American and British sensitive points if they attack Iran's nuclear facilities," he said in a speech, a recording of which has been heard by London's Sunday Times newspaper. He said some were in Iraq, "quite close" to the Iranian border.

The revelation comes as world powers prepare to meet in tomorrow Moscow to discuss Tehran's announcement last week that it had successfully enriched uranium in defiance of the UN.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added to tensions with the West at the weekend, warning that Israel was heading towards annihilation. He said Israel's existence was a threat to the Islamic world, and added: "The Zionist regime is a rotten dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

However, writing in The Washington Post, a former US intelligence analyst says the US began planning a military campaign against Iran before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

William Arkin said the plan was known in military circles as TIRANNT, an acronym for Theatre Iran Near Term, and included a scenario for a land invasion of the country led by the US Marine Corps, a detailed analysis of the Iranian missile force and a global strike plan against any Iranian weapons of mass destruction.

US and British planners have already conducted a Caspian Sea war game as part of these preparations, the scholar said.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has dismissed reports of planned military strikes on Iran as wild speculation, insisting that the Bush administration remains focused on diplomacy to solve the impasse.

At a recruiting station for the suicide bomber squad in Tehran recently, volunteers had to show their birth certificates and tick a box stating whether they would prefer to attack US targets in Iraq or Israeli targets.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, a former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group, said a secret parallel military program was also under way in Iran.

According to sources inside Iran, the Revolutionary Guards were constructing underground sites that could be activated if nuclear facilities were destroyed.

The NCRI is the political wing of the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq, deemed a terrorist organisation in Britain and the US.

But much of its information is considered to be "absolutely credible" by Western intelligence after Mr Jafarzadeh revealed the existence of the Natanz nuclear plant in 2002.

The Sunday Times/Original link

Additional reporting: Michael Smith, Sarah Baxter

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