US senator says naval blockade of Iran should be considered

WASHINGTON, March 9 Fri Mar 9, 2012 6:41pm EST

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WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) - An international naval blockade of Iranian oil exports should be considered before any resort to air strikes against the country's disputed nuclear program, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said on Friday.

"That's, I think, one option that needs to be considered" to boost pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions, Democratic Senator Carl Levin said in an interview taped for C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program.

He said any such blockade should be preceded by lining up alternative oil supplies to avoid a price spike on world crude markets. Iran is OPEC's second-largest oil producer and the world's third-largest petroleum exporter.

Levin was responding to a question about possible ways of increasing pressure short of combat, including imposition of a "no-fly zone" over Iran.

Such moves "could be very effective," he said. "I think (these are) options that whoever is willing to participate should explore, including Israel and including the United States."

Iran is widely suspected of enriching uranium, and other activities, as a prelude to building nuclear weapons. Tehran says the program is aimed at producing civilian nuclear power.

The international response to Iran's nuclear program has evolved into a widespread consensus for substantial sanctions and other pressure, paired with incentives and diplomacy, to head off the possible development of nuclear arms.

Israeli leaders have said, however, that time is running out before they could feel compelled to launch military strikes to stop or delay the program.

Levin voiced optimism that increasingly strict sanctions, including an oil purchase embargo by the European Union to take full effect by July 1, might force Iran to relent.

"Not because it doesn't want a nuke - I think it does - but because the price that it's going to have to pay" in terms of isolation would be too high, said Levin, whose committee has an oversight role for the U.S. Defense Department.

Levin said President Barack Obama should seek congressional authorization before any U.S. resort to military action against Iran. But he noted that presidents from both parties had maintained they were not bound to do so as commander in chief of U.S. armed forces.

A senior Obama administration official, asked about Levin's remarks, said, "Our focus remains on a diplomatic solution, as we believe diplomacy coupled with strong pressure can achieve the long-term solution we seek."

WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF ISRAEL ACTS

Levin said he would not be surprised if the Jewish state, which regards a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence, took military action within "months."

"I would say that a strike is likely" if Iran continues to refuse to curb its nuclear program, he added. He said U.S.-supported Israeli missile defense programs had undercut Iran's ability to retaliate against Israel for any strike.

Asked why Israel alone should be allowed to have nuclear arms in the region, Levin cited the Holocaust, the genocide of about 6 million European Jews during World War Two by Nazi Germany, and what he called similar threats throughout history.

In addition, he said, Israel still faced a threat of being wiped out by some of its neighbors, "so it's a deterrent against that kind of a threat."

(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Alister Bull; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (12)
Jaws7 wrote:
People like Senator Democratic Carl Levin, Chairman of the US Senate
Armed Services Committee is an example of the type of leadership this country has that is responsible for a foreign policy that has not helped this country. Blockade Iran. Does he know how many soldiers we have in Afagnistan, who we are having problems supplying. How quick does he think the remaining supply lines will remain open. It is ignorant leaders like this individual who have put 100,000 US soldiers in jeopardy. Does he care? I think not. How soon does he believe Iran will arm the Taliban with real weapons if we blockade it. How long will it be before our soldiers are freezing, starving and with no ammunitions.

We are responsible for Afagnistan because we occupy it. Fuel and jet fuel that Afagnistan needs pass thru Iran. If Iran blocks the route thru its country to Afagnistan how long will it be before the citizens of Afagnistan turn on our US soldiers because they are freezing. We saw what happened when we showed no respect for their sacred literature. Does he think Iran is going to sit around while they are blockaded. There are oil and gas lines running to Europe, and oil tankers going to China and India. Does he think China and India are going to stand by and do nothing. Why does he not just declare war because that is what he is asking for.

I know the US is a great military power. But having the power and the ability to focus that power are two different things. We have shown we are not capable of focusing that power, we left Libya with serious problems, Iraq is pro Iran and against our policies, and in Afagnistan with approx. 130,000 troops and all our modern weapons we have not in ten years been able to conquer this country that had no airforce, no navy and not much of an army. And our soldiers serving there are in a position where they could end up without supplies.

Mar 09, 2012 8:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
NYCALIEN wrote:
“US senator says naval blockade of Iran should be considered” – In other words Oil prices are going up by $10.00 when market open and me the senator just got a bonus by oil companies.

Mar 09, 2012 11:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
policywhiz wrote:
Did you hear that America would have to get permission from the UN to do anything! Yes, the UN, the organization that still lets Syria sit on the Human Rights Commission. We hold no credibility in the world so the chances of us doing anything or being taken seriously is out of the question.

Mar 10, 2012 12:03am EST  --  Report as abuse
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