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U.S. war game forecasts perils of Israeli strike on Iran: report

(Xinhua)

08:42, March 21, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. war simulation conducted this month to assess the consequences of a possible Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, according to a newspaper report on Tuesday.

U.S. officials were quoted by The New York Times as saying that such a strike could drag the United States into the conflict and leave hundreds of Americans dead, as Washington may find it impossible to preclude its involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran.

This two-week war simulation, called Internal Look, was conducted by the U.S. Central Command. It could give stronger voice to those in the U.S. government, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned about the dangers of an Israeli attack on Iran, the report said.

The war game envisioned that Iran would strike a U.S. Navy warship in the Gulf in retaliation for an Israeli strike, thus leading to the U.S. bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities.

An Israeli airstrike could set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, while subsequent U.S. strikes could slow it by an additional two years, the report said.

The results deeply worried James Mattis, commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, who reportedly told aides that an Israeli strike would likely have dire consequences across the region and for the U.S. forces there.

Still, many U.S. experts predicted that Iran would try to avoid giving the United States a rationale for attacking with its far superior forces after the Israelis launch the first strike, the report added.

Tensions have been flaring up recently between Iran and Israel over Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects as an attempt to develop a nuclear weapon despite Tehran's insistence that it is solely for peaceful purposes.

Israel has repeatedly threatened to launch a preemptive strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities, but the United States currently hopes to give diplomacy and economic sanctions a chance to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

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