Fri, May 18, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Plans to strike Iran ready: US’ Israel envoy

ON THE TABLE:US Ambassador Dan Shapiro said the US preferred a diplomatic solution, but a military option is ready, while Iran rejected US pressure over its nuclear program

Reuters and AFP, Jerusalem and Tehran

US plans for a possible military strike on Iran are ready and the option is “fully available,” the US ambassador to Israel said, days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers that suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Like Israel, the US has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. Iran says its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.

“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” US Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel’s Army Radio yesterday.

“But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available — not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready,” said Shapiro, who the radio station said had spoken on Tuesday.

The US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany have been using sanctions and negotiations to try to persuade Iran to curb its uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for reactors, medical isotopes and, at higher levels of purification, fissile material for nuclear warheads.

New talks opened in Istanbul last month and resume on Wednesday in Baghdad.

Israel, which is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, feels threatened by the prospect of its archfoe Iran going nuclear and has hinted it could launch pre-emptive war.

However, many analysts believe the US alone has the military clout to do lasting damage to Iran’s nuclear program.

In January, Shapiro told an Israeli newspaper the US was “guaranteeing that the military option is ready and available to the president at the moment he decides to use it.”

US lawmakers are considering additional legislation that would increase pressure on Iran, with further measures to punish foreign companies for dealing with Iran in any capacity.

Meanwhile, Iran rejects Western pressures over its nuclear activities and will never give up its rights, Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator said yesterday.

“If we participate in the negotiations ... it is because of our resistance [to Western powers]. Thanks to our resistance, we have defended the rights of the Iranian people,” Saeed Jalili said in a speech broadcast on local TV.

“The Iranian people will never give up even an iota of their rights,” Jalili added, in reference to the Islamic republic’s nuclear drive.

“I advise Western officials against making calculated mistakes. In Baghdad, we can negotiate for cooperation on the basis of respect for Iran’s undeniable rights. The path chosen by our country is a path of no return,” he said.

“The [West] would like to block Iran’s progress in the nuclear domain, but they have failed. Iran today has become a nuclear power,” he added.

Jalili also reiterated that sanctions and international pressure were not affecting Iran’s determination.

“To those who say that time is running for dialogue, I reply: What is running out is the policy of pressuring Iran, because this strategy has not yielded the results” expected by world powers, Jalili said.

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