US plans for Iran attack ready, says ambassador

US plans for Iran attack ready, says ambassador

US plans for Iran attack ready, says ambassador

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (C) and his Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash (center R) meet Navy and Marine officers onboard the USS Peleliu off the coast of San Diego. REUTERS photo

Plans for a possible U.S. military strike on Iran are ready and the option is “fully available,” the U.S. ambassador to Israel said just days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers over its nuclear program in Baghdad on May 23. The U.S. envoy’s comments came as Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator said Iran rejected Western pressures over its nuclear activities and will never give up its rights.

“If we participate in the negotiations it is because of our resistance [to Western powers.] Thanks to our resistance, we have defended the rights of the Iranian people,” Saeed Jalili said in a speech broadcast on local television.

Diplomacy preferable

“The Iranian people will never give up even an iota of their rights,” Jalili added, in reference to the Islamic republic’s nuclear drive. “I advise Western officials against making calculated mistakes. In Baghdad, we can negotiate for cooperation on the basis of respect for Iran’s undeniable rights,” Jalili said. “The path chosen by our country is a path of no return. The (West) would like to block Iran’s progress in the nuclear domain, but they have failed. Iran today has become a nuclear power,” he added. “To those who say that time is running out for dialogue, I reply: What is running out is the policy of pressuring Iran, because this strategy has not yielded the results” expected by world powers. “It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel’s Army Radio yesterday.

“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,” said Shapiro, whom the radio station said had spoken on May 15. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was expected to meet his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak at the Pentagon late yesterday. They were scheduled to finalize an expected U.S. announcement of an extra $680 million in aid to Israel to help finance the production and deployment of more batteries of its Iron Dome anti-missile system. In January, Shapiro told an Israeli newspaper the United States was “guaranteeing that the military option is ready and available to the president at the moment he decides to use it.”