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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid