Preparing for a potential conflict with Iran has emerged as the top focus of deliberations within the U.S. armed forces over possible updates to their battle blueprint, the Washington Times reported on Tuesday (see GSN, May 1).
The armed services' warships and aircraft are capable over roughly 20 days of eliminating or inflicting significant damage on Iranian defense assets, U.S. Central Command has determined. Washington could pursue such action in retaliation to potential Iranian attacks on U.S. and non-U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf, as well as to moves aimed at blocking the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway for the transport of Middle Eastern oil.
A phased increase in U.S. deployments in the Persian Gulf is under way; a pair of aircraft carriers are in the area, in addition to an increasing quantity of helicopters and naval vessels for identifying sea-based explosives.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran's atomic program is geared toward development of a nuclear-weapon capability; Tehran has consistently denied the contention (Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times, May 1).
An Iranian diplomat on Wednesday said his nation is hopeful over discussions with six major governments on its atomic efforts, Reuters reported. Officials from Tehran are expected on May 23 in Baghdad to meet for the second time this year with representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"We continue to be optimistic about upcoming negotiations," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhondzadehhe said at a preparatory meeting for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference.
Still, "there should be no doubt that the great nation of Iran ... will never abandon exercising its inalienable right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology," he said (Fredrik Dahl, Reuters I, May 2).
The next round of talks should lead toward freeing Iran from international sanctions imposed over its nuclear work, Reuters quoted a counselor to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying on Wednesday. The U.N. Security Council has imposed four sanctions resolutions in response to Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce reactor fuel and nuclear-weapon material. Those penalties have been bolstered by unilateral measures by the United States and other nations.
"At the least, our expectation is the lifting of sanctions," according to Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel (Fredrik Dahl, Reuters II/Yahoo!News, May 2).
Iran's atomic sector was one subject of a Tuesday meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, Kyodo News reported (Kyodo News, May 2).
"It is important to continue to put effective pressure on Iran as the pressure began to show its effect, to some extent," Agence France-Presse on Wednesday quoted Gemba as saying to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Tokyo's top diplomat urged Tel Aviv to "restrain itself" rather than rushing into military conflict with Iran, according to a statement from a spokesman for Gemba. Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have repeatedly warned that military force might be necessary to address Iran's atomic activities.
Lieberman played down the success of the ongoing sanctions regime.
"Iran has not stopped its nuclear program for even one day, and is accelerating its uranium enrichment," he reportedly said to Gemba (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, May 2).
Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday received new powers under an executive order to target non-U.S. entities aiding Iran in circumventing unilateral and multilateral economic penalties, McClatchy Newspapers reported. The measure -- described in a communication to top lawmakers -- enables the department to refuse U.S. entry to linked individuals and organizations and to prohibit U.S. business with those entities (Kevin Hall, McClatchy Newspapers/Miami Herald, May 1).
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) commended the move, which also targets Syria.
“It’s long overdue for the U.S. to target those who enable the Iranian and Syrian regimes by willfully evading sanctions on these pariahs and continuing to provide them the resources to continue their threatening activities," the lawmaker said in released remarks. “However, underlying U.S. sanctions law also needs to be strengthened, and fast, in order to stop the threat posed by these rogue regimes. The administration must apply direct sanctions on all high-ranking Iranian regime officials, including the so-called ‘supreme leader’ [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and his inner circle” (U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee release, May 1).
Preparing for a potential conflict with Iran has emerged as the top focus of deliberations within the U.S. armed forces over possible updates to their battle blueprint, the Washington Times reported on Tuesday.