US: We Don’t Seek Military Confrontation with Iran

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Mark Garten

Following a report in The Guardian that the British were preparing in case the United States sought their help in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the US noted on Thursday that they are not seeking that approach. Nonetheless, with another report on Iran from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expected next week, the US is still keeping the diplomatic heat on the Iranians.

Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, in comments to reporters released by the US State Department, said, “We have said many times in the last weeks and months that we do not seek a military confrontation with Iran. That remains our position. That said, we are going to use every means at our disposal to continue to try to increase the international pressure on Iran to meet its IAEA obligations and to come clean on its nuclear program.”

In the past the US has noted that all options were “on the table.” That was not reiterated by Nuland, although she didn’t explicitly say military action was off the table either.

Nuland was joined by comments from US Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, who emphasized the US focus towards Iran is diplomatic.

In comments to reporters on Thursday that were posted on the White House website, Rhodes said, “I would underscore that what we’d be focused on is continuing a diplomatic effort to pressure and isolate the Iranians.”

Specifically, he listed financial pressure, diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions as ways to prompt the Iranians to come clean on their nuclear program.

“We’ll want to ramp up those efforts in response to Iranian failure to meet their obligations—as we have done, steadily, in building up our own sanctions with likeminded nations over the course of the last couple of years,” said Rhodes.

The comments came after the British newspaper The Guardian reported that the British military is working on contingency plans should the US decide to attack Iran and ask for UK assistance.

Officials cited in The Guardian article said that US President Barack Obama does not want a new conflict with elections just a year away, but a source noted that new concerns may force him to change his plans in the coming months—partly to avoid doing it right before the November 2012 election.

One issue is that the Iranians are moving nuclear-enrichment equipment underground into their fortified bunker facility.

Said the source in The Guardian report, “Beyond [12 months], we couldn’t be sure our missiles could reach them. So the window is closing, and the UK needs to do some sensible forward planning… We had thought this would wait until after the US election next year, but now we are not so sure.”

(By Staff,, November 3, 2011)