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 VOA Exclusive: Poroshenko Wants Russia's UN Veto Stripped

Ukrainian president tells VOA's Myroslava Gongadze that global community would be safer if Russia's ability to play spoiler were ended More

Crime and Espionage Becoming Tangled Online

As the lines between cyber-crime and espionage blur, fighting hackers becomes harder More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs