News / Middle East

US: Iran Unlikely to Initiate Conflict in Nuclear Dispute

A top U.S. intelligence official says Iran would respond if attacked for its nuclear activities, but is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.

That assessment comes from the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess.  He told a Senate hearing Thursday that if Iran is attacked, it could respond by actions including shutting a vital shipping lane.  

"Iran can close the Straits of Hormuz at least temporarily, and may launch missiles against United States forces and our allies in the region if it is attacked.  Iran could also attempt to employ terrorist surrogates worldwide," said Burgess. "However, the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict."

Burgess and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper both told the hearing it is believed that Israel has not made a decision to attack Iran.

A number of nations believe Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for developing nuclear weapons.  Israeli leaders have warned repeatedly that Iran must be prevented from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

In Tokyo Thursday, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for increased sanctions on Iran.  Barak said that while current sanctions are affecting Iranian officials, more action is necessary.

"I think that the sanctions should be ratcheted up and made even more urgent," said Barak. "I think that for the first time we see certain signs of impact of these sanctions, but they might not suffice to compel the Iranian leadership to take decisions. So we feel that there is still a need for more effective and paralyzing sanctions on Iran."

The United States on Wednesday downplayed Iran's new claims of advances in its nuclear program, saying Tehran wants to distract from its growing diplomatic isolation.

Iran said it had installed a new generation of centrifuges to enrich uranium, and for the first time loaded domestically produced nuclear fuel into Tehran's research reactor.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed the announcements.

"We frankly don't see a lot new here,"said Nuland. "This is not big news.  It seems to have been hyped.  The Iranians have, for many months, been putting out calendars of accomplishments, and based on their own calendars, they are many, many months behind.  This strikes us as calibrated mostly for a domestic audience."

Nuland says Iran must show its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

"They still need to demonstrate to all of us, including taking advantage of the IAEA inspection team now, that this is a purely peaceful program as they claim," she said.

Iran hailed the advances as a step toward mastering the complete nuclear fuel cycle, despite U.N. and Western sanctions aimed at stopping the process. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Iran is making "defiant" statements because its leadership and economy are under "enormous pressure" from sanctions.

The European Union said Wednesday it received a formal Iranian reply to a letter sent almost four months ago offering Iran a resumption of nuclear talks with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany - a group known as P5+1.  The Iranians said they are ready for "dialogue" and "cooperation."

The parties last met in Istanbul a year ago but made no progress.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid