Obama Orders Update to Iran Attack Plan
Gates says, “all options are on the table.”
On NBC’s Today Show this morning, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that President Obama has ordered him to update the plans for a U.S. attack on Iran, plans which were last updating during the Bush Administration. Gates says the plans are “refreshed” and insists that “all options are on the table” with respect to the potential attack.
It was only a month ago that Secretary Gates was warning vigorously against the potential attack, saying that it would create a “disastrous backlash” against the United States to hit Iran’s civilian nuclear facilities. >>>
Despite the prospects of diplomatic engagement with Tehran over its nuclear program, Defense Secretary and Pentagon chief Robert Gates said Friday that the White House has not ruled out the possibility of a military strike if diplomacy was to fail.
“Presidents always ask their military to have a range of contingency plans available to them,” Gates told NBC television. “And all I would say is that, as a result of our dialogue with the president, we’ve refreshed our plans and all options are on the table.”
In a turnabout from the policies of the Bush administration, President Obama says he seeks to diplomatically engage Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
Iran, which favors diplomacy to resolve the nuclear differences with the West, says the program is directed at the civilian applications of the technology.
The U.S. and Israel, however, accuse the country of seeking military objectives in its pursuit.
The defense secretary’s remarks come shortly after a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington.
Netanyahu’s visit exposed deep differences between the two administrations over issues such as the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians and the U.S. approach to deal with Iran.
According to the Israeli Radio, Netanyahu told Obama that Israel reserves the right to take unilateral military action against Iran, refusing to make a promise to follow the U.S. lead.
The nuclear issue aside, President Obama’s decision to engage Tehran in direct talks has raised concern in Israel that rapprochement between the two rivals — which have not had diplomatic ties for nearly three decades — would ultimately cool Tel Aviv’s relations with its main ally.
Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. has raised fears that the U.S. president may have failed to avert an impending war in the volatile Middle East.
Israel, the possessor of Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal, has long strived to portray Iran as a regime hell-bent on an imminent nuclear war.
Iran says it has no plans to attack any country but continues to beef up its military capabilities to deter threats such as those originating from Israel.
With a weathered eye on Belarus’ technical and military ties with Iran, Israeli leaders plan to make an offer the former Soviet state cannot refuse.
Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is slated to visit Minsk in June, to persuade Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko into abandoning Iran and Syria in exchange for closer relations with Tel Aviv.
Lieberman will meet Lukashenko to persuade him into changing his strategic cooperation with Iran and Syria, particularly in military and technical grounds, Ria Novosti reported on Friday. >>>
As the U.S. and Israel apparently diverge, the Israeli foreign minister says Washington and Tel Aviv share a full understanding on strategic issues including Iran.
Avigdor Lieberman, at a Thursday meeting of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce in Tel Aviv, pointed to the recent meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week.
The meeting showed that “Israel and the U.S. share an understanding on strategic goals, first and foremost dismantling Iran from the ability to attain non-conventional arms,” Lieberman said.
“Their methods may differ, but there is agreement on the goals. The argument is tactical,” he added, negating reports that the meeting ended in a rift.
Obama and Netanyahu met at the White House on Monday to discuss the Israel-Palestinian conflict and to touch upon Iran’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu, after his meeting with Obama declared that he had “reached a great understanding on Iran” with the US president.
The two sides had reportedly agreed on the formation of a high-level working group, focusing on Iran’s nuclear program and the U.S. outreach to Tehran.
However, the two sides seemingly took different roads on a possible Israeli solo attack on Iran, should diplomacy face a deadlock.
According to Israeli Radio, Netanyahu refrained from promising President Obama that he will not attack Iran, arguing that Israel reserved the right to take action against Iran.
Israel, the Middle East’s sole possessor of nuclear warheads, has repeatedly threatened to militarily attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails to achieve the results sought by Washington and Tel Aviv.
The U.S. has refused to give Tel Aviv the green light for an independent attack on Iran.
The new U.S. administration says it wants to diplomatically engage Iran, mend ties and resolve the country’s disputed nuclear program.
While the West, spearheaded by the U.S. and Israel, accuses Iran of developing a military nuclear program, Tehran says it only seeks the civilian applications of the technology.
Iran says it favors talks over its nuclear work, but has called for logical negotiations without any preconditions.
Iran also calls on the U.S. to demonstrate real change rather than just a change of tone in dealings with Iran.
Lieberman, however, has hinted that a war on Iran is in the offing and that the U.S. always bows to Israeli demands.
“Believe me, America accepts all our decisions,” the Israeli diplomat said in April in his first interview on foreign policy.
After an uneventful first meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that seemed to produce no real breakthroughs, hawks in the U.S. and Israel are seizing upon what they claim is a significant concession by Obama: his setting a “timetable” for negotiations with Iran.
Although Obama merely promised a “reassessment” of the situation at the end of the year without providing any benchmarks for progress, in the days since Monday’s meeting those pushing for tougher measures against Iran’s nuclear programme have portrayed his remarks as setting a hard-and-fast cutoff point for diplomacy.
By attaching so much importance to the end-of-year assessment, the Iran hawks – many of whom have publicly supported a significantly earlier deadline – may hope to box the president in politically, setting up a December showdown on Iran policy whether Obama likes it or not.
A relatively short Iran timetable would also suit Netanyahu, who has sought to make the Iranian nuclear programme a higher priority than the Israel-Palestinian peace process and who notably offered no real concessions on the Palestinian front in his meeting with Obama.