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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More