Iran's nukes 'can be bombed'

2010-01-10 17:55

Washington - A top US military commander responsible for the Middle East and the Gulf region said the United States has developed contingency plans to deal with Iran's nuclear facilities, insisting that they "can be bombed".

"Well, they certainly can be bombed," General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, told CNN television as he commented on suggestions that Iranian nuclear facilities were heavily fortified.

"The level of effect would vary with who it is that carries it out, what ordnance they have, and what capability they can bring to bear," he added.

The network plans to air the interview later on Sunday, but has released some excerpts.

Petraeus did not elaborate on the plans, but he said the military has considered the impacts of any action taken there, CNN said.

"It would be almost literally irresponsible if Centcom were not to have been thinking about the various 'what ifs' and to make plans for a whole variety of different contingencies," Petraeus said.

Iran maintains its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other Western nations fear Tehran wants to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israel has called Iran's nuclear programme the major threat facing its nation. Petraeus declined to comment about Israel's military capabilities, according to CNN.

Iran had until the end of last year to accept a deal offered by five permanent UN Security Council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.

It did not do so. Instead, Tehran gave the West until the end of January to accept its own proposal.

Petraeus said he thought there was still time for the nations to engage Iran in diplomacy, noting there is no deadline on the enactment of any US contingency plans, CNN noted.

But he added that "there's a period of time, certainly, before all this might come to a head, if you will."