The U.S. ambassador to Israel has claimed that his country is militarily prepared for a strike on Iran in the event that the Islamic Republic cannot be persuaded to relinquish its alleged uranium-enrichment program.
"It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force," Ambassador Dan Shapiro said, according to Israel's Army Radio.
"But that doesn't mean that option is not fully available -- not just available, but it's ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready.”
Shapiro’s declaration comes just days before world powers -- U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- are scheduled to meet with Iranian nuclear officials in Baghdad, Iraq, to discuss Tehran’s nuclear projects.
Earlier this year, Shapiro told an Israeli newspaper that Washington is "guaranteeing that the military option is ready and available to the president at the moment he decides to use it."
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While Iran has long insisted that it wants to use nuclear power for purely peaceful purposes, Israel and the United States believe the Iranians are seeking to build atomic weapons.
Thus far, the United States and European Union have imposed a raft of economic sanctions on Iran, focused on its key oil industry.
However, Israeli leaders Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak have long taken a hawkish stance against Iran, warning that a nuclear-armed Persia poses an existential threat to the Jewish state. They may run out of patience with sanctions and diplomatic negotiations and promote the military option to deal with Iran.
Separately, the former Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, said that Russia was not worried about Iran developing nuclear weapons because Israel would prevent such a scenario by attacking the Islamic Republic.
Aznar, speaking at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Wednesday, said Russian President Vladimir Putin made such remarks to him in the past.
Aznar served as Spanish Prime Minister from 1996 to 2004.
He also discussed conversations he has had with Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who warned him that he expected Iran to engage in a huge conflict –- both military and cultural -- with the West and Israel.
Khamenei also declared that Israel should be obliterated. Aznar speculates that Iran’s nuclear program may be a manifestation of Khamenei’s own aspirations.
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