Aamer Madhani / Herald Sun | July 4, 2008

AMERICA’S top military officer has issued a blunt warning against attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

He also said he was increasingly concerned about the rising violence in Afghanistan.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said any air strike on Iran would be high-risk and could lead to political and economic chaos.

On Iran’s western border, the US military is more than five years into a war in Iraq that has taken 4113 American lives and cost US taxpayers more than $600 billion.

And on Iran’s eastern border, American commanders are now openly questioning whether they have lost their way in the fight against a resurgent Taliban.

Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, has refused to rule out a strike against Iranian nuclear sites. This week’s New Yorker reported the US had stepped up its covert operations inside Iran.

While President George W. Bush repeated again yesterday that a military strike remained an option, Admiral Mullen’s words of caution underscored the Pentagon’s belief that a move against Iran — by the US or one of its allies — would have an undeniable effect on the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us,” Admiral Mullen said.

“This is a very unstable part of the world, and I don’t need it to be more unstable.”

Admiral Mullen’s comments come in the wake of the deadliest month for US troops in Afghanistan in the seven-year-old war: 27 American service members were killed.

About 32,000 US troops are serving in Afghanistan, compared with 144,000 in Iraq.

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