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Talks preferred but Israel ready to strike Iran says  ambassador



 by Joseph Earnest  May 17, 2012

Newscast Media JERUSALEM U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said his nation's military has completed the necessary preparations to launch an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities in the event that international sanctions and diplomacy fail, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

"It would be preferable to resolve this (the Iranian nuclear crisis) diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force, but that doesn't mean that option is not fully available. Not just available, but ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready," Shapiro told a closed lawyers' conference in Tel Aviv earlier this week.

"We do not know if sanctions and diplomacy will work, so all options are on the table, including the military option," Shapiro said.

The ambassador underscored that President Barack Obama had previously clarified -- in meetings with Israeli leaders and public pronouncementsthat the United States will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"I think this is a statement that America can take to the bank, that Israel can take to the bank, and that Iran should take to the bank," Shapiro said.

The remarks, some of the harshest to date by a senior American official on Iran's long-disputed nuclear program, come as Tehran and the P5+1 -- the UN Security Council's five permanent members plus Germanyare scheduled to meet in Baghdad next week for a second round of talks.

Israel, Western leaders and the UN nuclear watchdog believe that Iran, which has repeatedly threatened to destroy the Jewish state, is clandestinely trying to build a nuclear weapon under the ruse of medical research and power generation.

In recent statements and interviews, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have more than hinted that Israel is geared up for a military strike if the P5+1 talks, launched in Ankara last month, fail to convince Tehran to halt its nuclear fuel enrichment.

On Monday, Barak sharply criticized as being "too lax" Western requirements for Iranian cooperation and transparency over their nuclear program.

"The demands today (of Iran) ahead of the talks are so minimal, that even if Iran accepts all of them it will still be able to continue and make progress with its nuclear program," Barak told Army Radio.

He called on Iran to "completely cease its (nuclear fuel) enrichment activities, including to levels of 3.5 percent" and reiterated that Israel was weighing a military strike if the talks did not prove successful.

Barak said Israeli intelligence agencies were aware of the capabilities of the Parchin military facility near Tehran, where the Iranians are operating an high-explosives containment chamber commonly used in testing nuclear weapons, according to a sketch leaked last week.

Shapiro, a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the National Security Council, previously declined comments on whether the U.S. military is rehearsing plans to bomb Iran's fortified nuclear infrastructure.

"We don't require too much training. We already have a massive military presence in the (Persian) Gulf, don't we?" Shapiro said in an interview with the Israeli daily Ma'ariv in January.

"It is clear that for Israel (Iran's nuclear drive) is an existential threat. It's also a threat to other states in the region, to Persian Gulf states and to America and its forces in the region," he said.

The ambassador, who reportedly was not aware that he was being taped at the closed-door meeting this week, said that the U.S. military had not only drawn plans to attack Iran, but had tested them.

Shapiro, however, noted that the Obama administration believes that "there is a windownot an unlimited timein which we can still use diplomacy to achieve our goal."

"At some point we will have to decide if diplomacy has failed. What we want to do is give it any chance," he said.  Add Comments>>

Source: Xinhua





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