Pentagon must ready Iran options: top U.S. officer

WASHINGTON Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:19pm EST

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a news conference in Kabul December 14, 2009. REUTERS/ Omar Sobhani

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a news conference in Kabul December 14, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/ Omar Sobhani

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Diplomacy remains the best course for curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions but the Pentagon must have military options ready should President Barack Obama call for them, the top U.S. military officer said on Monday.

In an annual assessment of the nation's military priorities, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, offered no details about what those options might entail but said using force would have limited effect.

"My belief remains that political means are the best tools to attain regional security and that military force will have limited results," Mullen wrote. "However, should the president call for military options, we must have them ready."

Iran appears to be on course to miss the West's year-end deadline for it to accept an enrichment fuel deal aimed at calming international fears about its nuclear program.

If that happens, Washington has made clear that it intends to pursue harsher United Nations sanctions against Iran.

The West fears that the country's nuclear program is aimed at making bombs. Tehran says it seeks only to generate electricity.

Mullen said Obama has given the Iranian leadership "ample incentive to cease developing nuclear arms," adding: "I fully support the effort to focus on diplomatic solutions to existing tensions."

But Mullen played down the chances of a diplomatic breakthrough any time soon, saying: "No resolution is yet in sight."

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has similarly expressed support for diplomacy, saying military action would only delay the country's nuclear progress temporarily.

Tehran has had years to build underground facilities aimed at hiding and protecting the program in the event of attack from either the United States or Israel, experts say.

(Reporting by Adam Entous; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (3)
When Hitler started his taking over countries before World War 11 began in earnest, appeasement was the word, however, the world learned a costly mistake that by the time force is needed, appeasement has bought time for the invader. Iran is a cruel, aggresive, radical state, if they view appeasement as a sign of weakness, the troubles will continue.

Dec 22, 2009 1:56am EST  --  Report as abuse
Fools never learn from their mistakes. The only time they learn is when they die. Here you are with a George Bush lunatic military man (Mullen)saying the US should have a military option ready. Ready for who? For bags of american soldiers in a “war that has nothing to do with americans. Vietnam and now Iraq are not enough lessons. Oh, what a bunch of fools!

Dec 22, 2009 9:46am EST  --  Report as abuse
TheColonel wrote:
The French were criticized by historians, in hindsight, when France could have opted for a swift, aggressive military action in 1936 that would have squashed the still weak, embryonic Nazi empire. France was militarily capable, and Hitler was clearly violating the 1918 treaty that ended WWI. No one believed the audacity of Hitler, even though he clearly delineated, in public, his views and plans to everyone globally. France opted for the defensive Maginot line– clearly a mistake–instead of aggressive action. A swift military action across the border into Nazi Germany would have been surgical, even by 1930 standards. Instead, 40 million dead later, the world finally got rid of the Nazis after a multi-year catastrophic war effort. Let us learn from the past and nip the fanatical Iranian government’s ambitions in the bud. If Iran’s present fanatic government carries out its own audacity, then Israel and several US cities could vanish in a puff of nuclear smoke in a few years. One shipping container holding one bomb would destroy one US city. STRATEGY: We need not target Iran’s nuclear facilities–instead target and tactically bomb their central government and “state police” with conventional weaponry, as these are soft targets. Most Iranians would then revolt and create a saner government more amenable to global standards of responsibility.
The Colonel

Dec 22, 2009 11:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
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