Washington Rules out Military Strike for Now

Washington has said it is ruling out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program for the time being, and will continue to focus its energy on sanctions with Tehran.

An AP report out today quoted <a href="Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy telling a press briefing in Singapore that, “Military force is an option of last resort. It’s off the table in the near term.” She added, “Right now the focus is a combination of engagement and pressure in the form of sanctions. We have not seen Iran engage productively in response.”

A few days earlier, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced to the White House that the US “does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability.”

Iran, who is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has said that as a member of the NPT, it has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The U.S. and many other western nations, however, question Iran’s nuclear program.

It’s important to point out, however, that the hardline leader of the Islamic revolution, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa in which he said the use of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass description of any kind were unlawful and unIslamic because they did not distinguish between those killed. Iran’s current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei has renewed this fatwa.

Of course, saying one thing does not necessarily promise that a country will not go back on its word, however Iran has in the past stood firm on this issue. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. provided Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with chemical weapons, which Saddam used against the Iranians and the Kurds. The Iranian, however, under the then new leadership of Khomeini, refrained from using WMD against the Iraqis for exactly this reason.

Washington, along with Germany, Britain, France—and more reluctant Russia and China—has been pushing for a fourth round of sanctions for Iran.

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, however, was quoted last week as saying that Iran would not give into US pressure. “We’ve said time and again that we are not after weapons of mass destruction but the Iranian nation won’t give in to such threats and will bring those threatening it to their knees,” Khamenei said.

Pressure for sanctions on Iran comes six months after Iran rejected the initial 2009 UN-backed deal that would have had Iran send almost 80 percent of its 5 percent and lower LEU in exchange for nuclear fuel rods to be used for medical and research purposes. Iran said it would send small amounts of its LEU so long as it was exchanged either on its own soil or traded by a trusted 3rd party.

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