Australian defence facilities will be used to help the United States locate Iran’s nuclear sites so its nuclear infrastructure could be annihilated, security officials have warned.
The warning came as an Iranian general locked horns with US President Donald Trump, calling him a “cabaret owner” and escalating what The New York Times called “a threat-filled feud.”
Senior figures in the Turnbull government told the ABC that the US plans to attack Iran’s nuclear program possibly over the next month.
It will use Australia’s top-secret defence capabilities along with British assets to identify targets in Iran, the ABC was told.
One security source stressed that Australia would not be directly involved in bombing Iran’s nuclear sites.
“Providing intelligence and understanding as to what is happening on the ground so that the Government and allied governments are fully informed to make decisions is different to active targeting,” the source told the ABC.
However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismissed the media report on Friday, saying there was no reason to believe US President Donald Trump was preparing to bomb Iran.
“It’s speculation, it is citing anonymous sources,” Mr Turnbull said.
“President Trump has made his views very clear to the whole world, but this story … has not benefited from any consultation with me, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister or the Chief of the Defence Force,” he said.
Mr Trump hinted at the possibility of war with Iran in a tweet he directed to its President Hassan Rouhani, exclaiming “never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences”.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Mr Rouhani earlier warned the US that “war with Iran is the mother of all wars”.
But he did not rule out the possibility of peace between the two nations.
“Do not play with the lion’s tail or else you will regret it,” Mr Rouhani told Iranian diplomats on Monday.
On Thursday (Iranian time), a powerful commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Qassim Suleimani, said it was “beneath the dignity” of the country’s president to respond to Mr Trump’s barbs.
“I, as a soldier, respond to you,” General Suleimani said, addressing Mr Trump directly in a speech reported by Iranian-run media.
“You threaten us with an action that is ‘unprecedented’ in the world. This is cabaret-style rhetoric. Only a cabaret owner talks to the world this way.”
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said Mr Trump’s tweets should always be taken “extremely seriously”.
“Certainly President Trump has indicated that he’s a person who’s prepared to act in a way that previous presidents haven’t,” Mr Pyne told the ABC.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia is “urging Iran to be a force for peace and stability in the region”.
“The relationship between the United States and Iran is a matter for them.
“What we are looking to do is to ensure that all parties embrace peaceful and stable principles to ensure that our region is safe,” Ms Bishop told ABC’s AM program on Thursday.