Yesterday, President Trump warned the US is targeting 52 Iranian titles and will strike “very fast and very hard” if Tehran attacks US citizens or assets. The President’s claims follow the US assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, in a drone strike. General Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran, behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But the US branded the commander and the Quds Force terrorists, holding them responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US personnel.
His killing was a major escalation between the two nations, and Iran vowed to take “severe revenge”.
As tensions mount and fears of a full-blown conflict grow, a 2001 report reveals how another US President threatened to nuke Iran – and six other countries.
Nineteen years ago, the Daily Express reported that a leaked Pentagon report revealed US contingency plans to use nuclear weapons against China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria and Libya.
The secret policy was denounced as warmongering “lunacy”.
Alarmed officials from Moscow to Tehran warned that the “power crazy” President, buoyed up by the successful campaign in Afghanistan, could plunge the world into chaos.
British politicians said the strategy threatened the stability of the NATO alliance.
The review claimed that the weapons could have been used against targets able to withstand conventional attack and in retaliation for the use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
They could have also been used in the event of “surprising military developments”, reflecting fears that rogue states or terrorists could deploy weapons against the US.
The review, leaked to the Los Angeles Times, ordered the military to plan for the use of “smaller nuclear weapons” as a more effective deterrent against terrorist attacks.
It also called for cruise missiles to carry nuclear weapons.
It was the first time the US had reviewed its nuclear strategy since 1994 and the first list of target nations to be made public.
In Russia, former defence hawk General Leonid Ivashov said at the time: “The heart of US political doctrine is to push powerful Russia off the political scene.”
Russian politician Dmitry Rogozin added: “This is a nuclear stick intended to intimidate us.”
Viacheslav Nikonov, of the Politika think tank, branded the plans a “very negative signal” which would be “received in an appropriate fashion by Russia’s leadership”.
Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said: “The US believes that by threatening countries they’ll withdraw their demands.
“Their policy is one of intimidation.’’
The Tehran Times newspaper said: “This indicates the US is going to wreak havoc on the world to establish its domination.”