Iranian officials have expressed concern about reports the United States is deploying advanced fighter jets in the region, although the Israelis hinted a different reaction. President Shimon Peres gave US President Barack Obama a boost of support on Tuesday regarding the American leader’s general approach to Iran. At the beginning of a meeting with US Sen. John Kerry, Peres said he trusts Obama’s judgment and leadership.
According to a press release from Peres’ office that paraphrased his comments, he told Kerry he is “convinced” Obama is “serious and will stand by his commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” The press release did not directly mention the media reports that the US has based some F-22 Raptor attack planes in the United Arab Emirates.
Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi did speak directly on the matter, however, and his comments weren’t positive. The Fars News Agency quoted him as saying on the Al Alam TV network that the basing of F-22 fighters in the UAE is a “harmful move and undermines the security of the region.”
Speaking on Monday, Vahidi said, “We consider such (military) presence in the region as to be useless and harmful and more aimed at creating a psychological ploy and an insecure atmosphere in the region. We don’t see it useful.”
While the exact reason for sending the F-22s to the UAE is unclear—especially since they would not necessarily be the best bombing option if the US wanted to target Iran’s nuclear facilities—Tuesday’s comments by US Sen. Kerry were tough on Tehran.
US Sen. Kerry, the Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and a member of Obama’s political party, told Peres, “If I can just say to you and to the people of Israel: I hope there is no doubt about President Obama’s seriousness and commitment that Iran should not have and cannot have a nuclear weapon.
“The President has made it clear that he is not talking about containment, he is talking about prevention.”
Kerry noted that despite the resumed negotiations between Iran and the world powers, sanctions on the Islamic Republic have continued.
The media reports regarding the US placing the advanced F-22s in the Middle East are juxtaposed against the negotiations between the P5+1—the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany—and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. The talks resumed last month and are set to continue on May 23. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, has concerns about possible Iranian research into nuclear weapons.
There have been a number of reports in recent months regarding a possible strike on Iran by Israel or the US aimed at setting back Tehran’s nuclear program to keep them from attaining nuclear bombs.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 1, 2012)