AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
JERUSALEM: The United States has a military option “ready” if diplomacy fails to halt Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, the US envoy to Israel has said, an Israeli newspaper reported today.
“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically through the use of pressure than to use military force,” right-wing nationalist daily Makor Rishon quoted Daniel Shapiro as telling an Israeli bar association meeting this week.
“But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “It is not just available, but it is ready, the necessary planning has been done to ensure that it is ready.”
The United States, Israel and much of the international community believes Iran’s nuclear programme masks a weapons drive, a charge Tehran denies, saying the programme is for peaceful civilian energy and medical use.
Washington has pursued a policy of pushing tough sanctions against Iran, while leaving the door open to a diplomatic resolution.
After a 15-month hiatus, Iran and the P5+1 powers — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — held their first talks in Istanbul in mid-April, which were described as “positive.”
The parties agreed to more in-depth discussions in Baghdad on May 23.
But Israel has expressed scepticism about the talks, warning they could simply give Tehran more time to pursue a weapon.
And Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that the demands being made of Tehran “are so minimalist that even if Iran were to accept all of them, it could still continue and advance its nuclear programme.”
Israel has publicly warned it is keeping all options, including a military strike, on the table when it comes to dealing with the Iranian nuclear programme.
Its stance on the issue has led to speculation that it could carry out unilateral military action, despite the caution of US officials who have repeatedly stressed that sanctions must be given a chance to work.