Iran moving missiles to secret sites, Western officials tell British paper; earlier, Tehran residents reported to stockpile goods, fearing imminent strike
Growing panic in Iran? The commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has ordered his forces to raise their operational readiness ahead of a possible war or strike on the country’s nuclear facilities, the Telegraph reported late Monday.
The British newspaper quoted Western intelligence sources as saying that Iran is repositioning ballistic missiles, explosives and troops into defensive positions, in order to offer a quick response in the case of an attack by Israel or the United States.
According to the report, Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammed Ali Jaafari directed his forces to deploy Iran’s long-range missiles at secret sites nationwide. Meanwhile, the country’s air force has reportedly set up “rapid reaction units” that would respond to aerial assaults.
A senior Western intelligence official was quoted as saying: “There is deep concern within the senior leadership of the Iranian regime that they will be the target of a surprise military strike by either Israel or the US.
“For that reason they are taking all necessary precautions to ensure they can defend themselves properly if an attack happens,” the official said.
Tehran residents fear strike
Meanwhile, international schools in Iran have shut their doors after hardline students stormed the British Embassy last week, stoking ordinary Iranians’ fears that foreigners are about to pull out of the Islamic Republic ahead of a US or Israeli-led attack.
Protesters stormed and ransacked Britain’s two diplomatic compounds in Tehran on Tuesday, prompting Britain to evacuate its staff from the country and expel Iranian diplomats from London.
The French school in Tehran is located on British Embassy grounds and children were in class when the mob swarmed through the compound gates. Windows at the German school nearby were shattered in the attack, but the British school escaped the worst of the chaos after teachers sent pupils home early.
The schools have remained shut since, forcing hundreds of children to stay home. Foreign teachers and their families have left Iran, parents were told, though the French school hopes to resume lessons on Sunday, and Britain’s in the New Year.
‘We are going to be attacked’
Iran’s isolation over its nuclear ambitions, its claim to have shot down a US spy drone in its airspace on Sunday and the British embassy attack are feeding ordinary Iranians’ fears.
“Many foreigners are leaving Iran … I suspect that there will be military action … we will become another Iraq,” said architect Mahsa Sedri, 35. “Obviously something is going on … otherwise the foreigners would not leave Iran.”
“We are going to be attacked … I sense it … I am pulling out my money from the bank to have cash in hand in case of an attack,” said government employee Hassan Vosughi. “I and all my friends have stockpiled goods at home.”
Washington and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, a position that has only hardened since the critical report by the International Atomic Energy Agency last month.