U.S. could strike Iran but not win: Russian general


Reuters
Date: 04-03-07

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States cannot inflict a military defeat on Iran and any attack would be a huge political mistake, Russia's top general said on Tuesday.

"It is possible to damage Iran's military and industrial potential, but it is impossible to win," Russian news agencies quoted General Yuri Baluyevsky, head of the Russian general staff, as saying.

"The United States has a contingent in the region capable of launching a strike on Iranian territory.

"However, such possible strikes would be a huge political mistake. Shockwaves from this attack could be felt around the world."

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of wanting to build nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies. Tensions have been further aggravated by Iran's capture of 15 British sailors and marines in the northern Gulf on March 23.

Russia sells weapons to the Iranian military and is helping Tehran build a nuclear power station on the Gulf although work there is on hold over a payment dispute.

Russian media late last month quoted unnamed sources in Russian military intelligence as saying the United States could launch a strike on Iran as early as April 6.

RIA news agency quoted a Russian security source as saying Moscow has military intelligence reports that the U.S. has already approved a list of Iranian targets for bomb and missile strikes. The source said a land operation could follow.

U.S. President George W. Bush has said he will pursue diplomatic means to persuade Iran to drop its uranium enrichment plan but he has refused to rule out the use of force.

Baluyevsky said military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan showed the United States would face a fiasco if it took on Iran as well.

"The Americans must think twice (about attacking Iran)," he said. "They have already got stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq."



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