U.S. Strike on Iran? White House Denies It

ByABC News via logo
April 10, 2006, 7:25 AM

April 10, 2006— -- In the latest edition of The New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reports that the Bush administration is accelerating plans for military strikes against Iran to squash its nuclear program ambitions and that it is considering using nuclear weapons to take out the country's nuclear facilities.

Hersh said the administration had drawn up lists of targets and was considering using B-61 or bunker buster nuclear weapons against Iran. There are several plans on the table, Hersh said, including one with tactical nuclear weapons that would destroy Iran's nuclear facilities located 75 feet underground, about 170 miles or 180 miles from the capital of Tehran.

"This president has decided that the red line that Iran will not be able to cross is enriching uranium, and Iran said it is going to do that," Hersh said.

White House Counselor Dan Bartlett called Hersh's report ill-informed and told The Associated Press that the president's priority was "to find a diplomatic solution to a problem the entire world recognizes."

The U.N. Security Council has demanded Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program. However, Iran has refused to halt its nuclear activity, saying its small-scale enrichment project is strictly for research and not for development of nuclear weapons.

Bush has referred to Iran as part of the "axis of evil." While he has stressed that diplomacy is always preferable, he has also defended his administration's strike-first policy against terrorists and other enemies.

Hersh, quoting anonymous sources, reported that there were already clandestine U.S. military teams on the ground in Iran and that some senior officials had said they would resign unless the president took the nuclear option off the table.

"It's out of the contingency plan stage. My people on the inside say they went on to operational planning," he told "Good Morning America."

Hersh said that the military had given the White House fixed plans to choose from, one being the nuclear bunker buster option. Later, he said, some military officials had second thoughts on the idea, but the White House refused to let go of the nuclear option -- and that has made some officials nervous.