The top U.S. military officer says more diplomacy is needed to convince
Iran not to develop nuclear weapons, because any military strike would
have unforeseeable consequences and could end up putting considerable
stress on U.S. forces. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.
a news conference, Admiral Mike Mullen refused to reveal any substance
from his recent meetings in Israel, which came shortly after Israeli
forces had conducted an extensive exercise that many interpreted as
preparation for an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. But
Admiral Mullen warned that any "destabilizing acts" could have
unpredictable consequences, and it would be difficult for the United
States to respond.
"Opening up a third front right now would be
extremely stressful on us," said Admiral Mullen. "That doesn't mean we
don't have capacity or reserve. But that would really be very
challenging and also the consequences of that, sometimes, are very
difficult to predict."
The admiral says that is why he prefers
the current U.S. and international policy of trying to convince Iranian
leaders to abandon their nuclear weapons program through a package of
incentives and punishments.
Admiral Mullen, who is Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke just a few days after news
organizations quoted an unnamed senior defense official as saying there
is increased likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran before the end of
the year. The official was quoted as saying Israel believes if it
waits any longer, Iran will have a nuclear weapon or a sophisticated
air defense system, or both. Admiral Mullen says Israel has predicted
faster Iranian progress than American analysts have.
Admiral Mullen was asked whether there is "a high stakes bluffing game" going on.
"It is high stakes, it's no question, in this part of the world," he said. "And I guess I'd just leave it at that."
Mullen also endorsed comments earlier Wednesday by the U.S. Naval
commander in the Middle East. Admiral Kevin Cosgriff said the United
States will not allow Iran to close the Straits of Hormuz, at the
entrance to the Persian Gulf, as Iran has threatened to do if it is
attacked. Admiral Mullen said Iran has the ability to create a
"hazard" in the Straits, but not to sustain it against U.S. forces.