May 23, 2009
As Washington gets updates on Israeli plans to strike Iran, US President Barack Obama orders the Pentagon to rejuvenate contingency plans for the use of military in Iran.
Despite the prospects of diplomatic engagement with Tehran over its nuclear program, Defense Secretary and Pentagon chief Robert Gates said Friday that the White House has not ruled out the possibility of a military strike if diplomacy was to fail.
“Presidents always ask their military to have a range of contingency plans available to them,” Gates told NBC television. “And all I would say is that, as a result of our dialogue with the president, we’ve refreshed our plans and all options are on the table.”
In a turnabout from the policies of the Bush administration, President Obama says he seeks to diplomatically engage Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
[efoods]Iran, which favors diplomacy to resolve the nuclear differences with the West, says the program is directed at the civilian applications of the technology.
The US and Israel, however, accuse the country of seeking military objectives in its pursuit.
The defense secretary’s remarks come shortly after a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington.
Netanyahu’s visit exposed deep differences between the two administrations over issues such as the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians and the US approach to deal with Iran.
According to the Israeli Radio, Netanyahu told Obama that Israel reserves the right to take unilateral military action against Iran, refusing to make a promise to follow the US lead.
The nuclear issue aside, President Obama’s decision to engage Tehran in direct talks has raised concern in Israel that rapprochement between the two rivals — which have not had diplomatic ties for nearly three decades — would ultimately cool Tel Aviv’s relations with its main ally.
Netanyahu’s visit to the US has raised fears that the US president may have failed to avert an impending war in the volatile Middle East.
Israel, the possessor of Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal, has long strived to portray Iran as a regime hell-bent on an imminent nuclear war.
Iran says it has no plans to attack any country but continues to beef up its military capabilities to deter threats such as those originating from Israel.