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    Former CIA officer says U.S ready to strike Iran within 6 months

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    The United States could deliver a military strike against Iran within the next six months, a former CIA officer told Fox News.

    WASHINGTON, August 22 (RIA Novosti) - The United States could deliver a military strike against Iran within the next six months, a former CIA officer told Fox News.

    In an interview Tuesday the U.S. TV channel asked Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, whether the U.S. was preparing for military action against Iran, citing Baer's column for Time Magazine on August 18, where he suggested that Washington officials expect an attack within the next six months.

    "I've taken an informal poll inside the government," Baer told Fox. "The feeling is we will hit the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC]."

    He said the George W. Bush administration is convinced "that the Iranians are interfering in Iraq and the rest of the Gulf," but what his sources anticipate is "not exactly a war."

    "We won't see American troops cross the border," said Baer. "If this is going to happen, it is going to happen very quickly and it is going to surprise a lot of people."

    There were recent reports that Washington would put Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard - the largest branch of Iran's military, separate from the rest of the army - on the terrorism list.

    Baer said the U.S. military suspects that the Revolutionary Guard is the main supplier of sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to insurgents killing coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    He also said there is a belief among neo-conservative elements in the Bush administration that the Revolutionary Guard is an obstacle to democratic and a friendly Iran.

    "IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran," Baer quoted an anonymous White House source as saying.

    However, the U.S. government has consistently denied rumors of preparations for military action against Iran.

    Whitehouse Spokeswoman Dana Perino said on August 15: "All of our efforts are focused on the diplomatic actions that we are working through, in terms of the United Nations Security Council."

    "Military action is not being contemplated," she told a news conference at Crawford Middle School, Texas.

    The results of a recent poll among 108 prominent U.S. political and military experts conducted by the Center for American Progress, a U.S. policy research think tank, also differ from the forecast provided by Baer's sources.

    According to the survey, 89% of U.S. experts said there would be no preemptive military strike on Iran and its nuclear facilities, and 65% said they were certain that George W. Bush would authorize an attack on Tehran during his remaining time in the office.

    Robert Baer is an intelligence columnist for Time Magazine and the author of See No Evil, an account of CIA anti-terrorism field work, and more recently a political thriller, Blow the House Down.

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