By Roman Mamonov
In a televised interview aired on Monday, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, threatened to use force against Iran if it continues its nuclear program or closes the Strait of Hormuz. At the same time, the two men urged the international community to seek more diplomatic and economic ways to resolve the crisis. They also warned Israel against a unilateral strike on Iran.
The interview is the latest sign of the escalating war of words between Washington and Tehran. The US has responded in kind to Iran’s recent demonstrative war games and threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. On Monday, Panetta said that the US would consider it a “red line” if Iran began to develop a nuclear weapon and blocked oil supplies from the Persian Gulf.
The use of force scenario was proposed by General Dempsey who said that US military experts were examining all the risks related to the Iranian nuclear program. What’s more, the US is ready to bear responsibility for a military operation if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz, according to Dempsey.
Panetta, for his part, warned Israel against a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. He made it plain that if Israel makes this decision, the US will focus on protecting its military bases and servicemen. This is something that once again reflects Washington’s double standards, says Yevgeny Satanovsky, head of the Middle East Institute in Moscow.
“The US policy, Satanovsky says, can be likened to a pendulum which moves along bizarre trajectories and hinges on many factors and private opinions by the president, the State Department and the Pentagon. America does not want surprises, and its calls to Israel are only natural because America is busy with promoting its own interests. It does not want independent actions by Israel,” Satanovsky concludes.
Meanwhile, Iran has declined to comment on the statements by the US Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Tuesday saw the beginning of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tour to South American countries, including Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. Also on Tuesday, Iran started uranium enrichment at the Fordow facilities in a move that is almost certain to infuriate the US.