The Pentagon has a ready plan for a military attack on Iran, the American ambassador to Israel warned days before a key meeting over the controversial nuclear program of the Islamic Republic.
Western countries and Israel are exerting pressure on Iran to stop uranium enrichment, saying that Tehran is secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb. Iran insists that its nuclear program is strictly civil.
"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 on Thursday.
"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.
The conflict is to be discussed in Baghdad on May 23, when envoys from the P5+1 group, which includes Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, are to meet Iranian negotiators. The previous round of talks was held in Istanbul on April 14.
Earlier there were numerous reports that Iran may face a pre-emptive strike either by Israel alone or by Israel and its NATO allies, if they see no other option to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities. However, intelligence communities both in Israel and the US believe that Iran has not taken a political decision to build the bomb yet.
Meanwhile the US may mount more sanctions against Iran, as the Senate is discussing a new package on Thursday. The sanctions are focused on foreign banks that handle transactions for Iran's national oil and tanker companies, and include measures to close loopholes in existing sanctions.
The US and EU have put a ban on the import of Iranian oil to cripple its foreign currency revenues. Washington also convinced several Iranian partners, such as Japan and South Korea, to reduce their trade with Tehran. Foreign companies involved in oil trade with Iran are risking sanctions, including being banned from American and European financial markets.
Iran says the economic sanctions would not stop it from pursuing nuclear energy development and says the Baghdad talks must be based on the recognition of rights of the Iranian nation to do so.
“Talks for cooperation, based on the alienable rights of the Iranian nation, must be put on the table in Baghdad,” the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, said on Thursday.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator says time is running out “for applying pressure and this approach has failed to bear results,” which came in response to the warning by some P5+1 members, that time is running out for Iran in terms of dialogue.
The US talk of a military attack against Iran is nothing more than political posturing, believes investigative journalist and historian Gareth Porter. This is “a political bow” to Israeli interests, he added, explaining that Washington is trying to please the Israeli public and appease the Netanyahu government.
In fact Obama administration’s position is clear: there is no reason at this point to contemplate the use of military force against Iran, as long as it does not make any aggressive moves.
The White House is desperate to reassure Netanyahu because Obama is worried that he will not receive the normal campaign contribution from the pro-Israel lobby in the upcoming presidential elections, Dr. Paul Craif Roberts, a former Reagan administration official, told RT.
Porter claims that Netanyahu’s tough stance against Iran is a bluff, which "is intended to get the United States and other Western powers to take the most aggressive policy possible toward Iran and to put pressure on it.”
The journalist believes that Israel does not have any intention of actually carrying out a strike because its intelligence and military leadership realize that “Iran can retaliate directly with their own ballistic missiles in a way that would be quite devastating for the Israeli civilian population.”
Moreover Dr. Roberts stresses that the pressure against Iran is being pushed by neo-conservative interests. “The United States of course needs an enemy in order to keep money flowing into the military security complex,” he said. “When the Soviet threat disappeared, the neo-conservatives conspired to create a Muslim threat.”