US 'conducts secret spy missions inside Iran'

THE United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported yesterday.

The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites. Mr Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, “the civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible.”

One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker: “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign.”

The White House said Iran is a concern and a threat that needs to be taken seriously, but it disputed the report by Mr Hersh.

Dan Bartlett, a top presidential aide, told CNN’s Late Edition: “I think it’s riddled with inaccuracies, and I don’t believe that some of the conclusions he’s drawing are based on fact.”

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