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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid