THE MIDDLE EAST TINDERBOX
U.S. General: Pentagon prepared to provide ‘military options’ on Syria
Haaretz reports: “The U.S. Defense Department was prepared to provide military options on ending the violence in Syria should mounting diplomatic pressure not stop the fighting, the top U.S. military official told broadcaster CBS.
I think that diplomatic pressure should always precede any discussions about military options. And that is my job by the way, is options, not policy. And so, we will be prepared to provide (military) options if asked to do so, General Martin Dempsey told CBS This Morning.
His comments came after the UN Security Council unanimously decried the use of tanks and artillery in a recent attack by Syrian forces on the town of Houla, killing at least 108 people.
It was the latest report of mass casualties in more than a year of fighting in which more than 12,000 people have died, according to opposition activists ” (Beware Syria Isaiah 17:1 has not yet been fulfilled. Soon it will become a 21st Century judgment: “ Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” See the next two reports.)
Panetta: Military option against Iran ready and available
The Jerusalem Post reports: “The military option against Iran is ready and available, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said in an interview with ABC News’ This Week.
The fundamental premise is that neither the United States nor the international community is going to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, Panetta said. We will do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon.
Panetta referenced recent comments made earlier by US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro that Washington has a military contingency plan, should diplomatic talks fail to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program. It would be preferable to solve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure, than to use military force, he said. But that doesnt mean that option isnt fully available. Not just available, its ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that its ready.
The international community has been unified, he said. We’ve put very tough sanctions on them as a result of that.. We are prepared for any sort of contingency in that part of the world. ”
U.S. study: Iran has enough uranium for five nuclear bombs
Haaretz reports: “Iran has significantly stepped up its output of low-enriched uranium and total production in the last five years would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons if refined much further, a U.S. security institute said.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a think-tank which tracks Iran’s nuclear programme closely, based the analysis on data in the latest report by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which was issued on Friday.
Progress in Iran’s nuclear activities is closely watched by the West and Israel as it could determine how long it could take Tehran to build atomic bombs, if it decided to do so. Iran denies any plan to and says its aims are entirely peaceful ”