US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.
It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.
The US insists it is not planning to attack, and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.
The UN has urged Iran to stop the programme or face economic sanctions.
But diplomatic sources have told the BBC that as a fallback plan, senior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected their target sets inside Iran.
That list includes Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list, the sources say. [BBC]
It's not surprising that a contingency plan exists for such as strike. In fact, it would be surprising if the Bush administration hadn't formulated a plan, given how determined it is to leave the military option on the table. (Well, with this crew, you never know. They like spontaneity in their military conquests.)
What's alarming is how big an attack the US is planning. They're not envisioning an Osirak-style surgical strike against Iran's nuclear program. The plan is to go after most of Iran's military infrastructure. Shock and awe all over again.
Also disconcerting are the circumstances under which the plan would be "triggered:"
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon - which it denies.
Alternatively, our correspondent adds, a high-casualty attack on US forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran. [BBC]
On the bright side, the fact that we haven't attacked Iran yet is a tacit admission that the US has no proof that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
It's probably only a matter of time before America suffers a huge number of casualties in a single attack. We're putting more troops in harm's way, and the insurgents are becoming more sophisticated.
Over at Global Guerillas, folks are speculating that the US could be one mass casualty away from defunding the war all together. The Bush administration is acutely aware of that possibility.
The public is sick of empty platitudes about staying the course. If the unthinkable happens, I predict that the Bush administration will use American losses as an excuse to scale up the war and go after the "real culprits" in Iran who are allegedly ruining America's occupation.
The administration has been trying to gin up a case against Iran for weeks, but so far reasonable people have the upper hand. The administration lacks proof and credibility. My fear is that the debate will become clouded by emotion and jingoism. If that happens, people may lose sight of niceties of evidence and lash out at the target the administration is setting up for them: Iran.
Residual anger over 9/11 propelled the US to invade Iraq with on the basis of shoddily fraudulent evidence. If the unthinkable happens in Iraq, I hope the American public won't allow their grief to be exploited again.
[The photo is a picture of journalist Sy Hersh, who has been warning about the Neocons' designs on Iran for years.]