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US military intelligence: ‘Iran won’t start the war’

Published time: February 16, 2012 21:16
Edited time: February 17, 2012 01:16
A soldier carries ammunition in southern Iran December 31, 2011 (Reuters / Fars News / Hamed Jafarnejad)

A soldier carries ammunition in southern Iran December 31, 2011 (Reuters / Fars News / Hamed Jafarnejad)

In a briefing over the escalating hostilities between the US and Iran, American intelligence officials say it is unlikely that Iran will initiate any military action against the United States.

If and when the US does launch a strike on Iran, however, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Speaking from Washington, DC this week, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess said an attack at the hands of Iran is unlikely, unless, of course, the US acts first. Burgess also added that, despite increased sanctions imposed by the US and a build up of American military forces surrounding the country, Iran is unlikely to halt the nuclear program that has become the cause of international concern.

"Iran today has the technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons. While international pressure against Iran has increased, including through sanctions, we assess that Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandoning its nuclear program," Burgess said.

The United States and some of its allies insist that Iran is producing nuclear warheads; Iran says their research is working towards atomic energy, not nukes. As the US continues to come down on Iran for allegation of a weapons program, Burgess warns that Tehran shows no signs of terminating their efforts anytime soon.

If the US tries to terminate it themselves, however, there could be trouble.

"Iran can close the Strait of Hormuz at least temporarily, and may launch missiles against United States forces and our allies in the region if it is attacked," Burgess explained this week to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

"Iran could also attempt to employ terrorist surrogates worldwide. However, the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict," the lieutenant general added.

With an Iran-initiated attack unlikely in the eyes of the American intelligence community, that gives the US an upper hand in deciding on a date to begin an assault of their own.

Recent weeks have seen escalating concerns over an Iran-Israel conflict and how the US could end up at war if they decide to come to the aid of their Israeli allies. Burgess told the committee, “To the best of our knowledge Israel has not decided to attack Iran.” But given the lovey-dovey relationship between the allies, an attack out of Israel would likely prompt the US to begin an attack immediately.

At that point, warns Burgess, a retaliation in the form of an international terrorist network masterminded by the Iranians and a possible nuclear assault could become an immediate reality.

Neither the US nor Israel have confirmed that they intend to attack Iran, but the two friendly countries have made plans for a massive missile drill scheduled for later this year. The move will send thousands of US troops to Israel, where they will be close to thousands of other Americans stationed in nearby nations.

In the few months since a US surveillance drone was hijacked by Iran during an attempted spy mission, Tehran has teased Washington and insisted that it has decoded the stealth technology of the aircraft. The US has responded by mobilizing fleets and ground troops to the tune of tens of thousands around the Arabian Gulf and the nations that surround Iran. Additionally, the US has equipped many countries that neighbor Iran with weaponry capable of crushing their foe.

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