Monday, December 21, 2009

Mullen: Force must be option for Iran; France: Iran sanctions a must

(Haaretz,AP).Military force would have only limited effect in stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons but must remain an option, the top U.S. military officer said Monday.

"Tehran shows no signs of backing down in the standoff over what the United States and other countries say is its drive for a nuclear bomb," Adm. Mike Mullen, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told his staff in an annual assessment of the nation's risks and priorities.

"My belief remains that political means are the best tools to attain regional security and that military force will have limited results," Mullen wrote. "However, should the president call for military options, we must have them ready."

Mullen, the president's chief military adviser, had said separately on Sunday that he is worried about Iran's intentions and said the clock is running on Obama's offer of engagement.

"I've said for a long time we don't need another conflict in that part of the world, he told reporters traveling with him on a visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. I'm not predicting that would happen, but I think they've got to get to a position where they are a constructive force and not a destabilizing force."

Also on Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the international community has no other choice than to impose new sanctions on Iran for Tehran's refusal to cooperate on its nuclear program.

Kouchner said Russia was already on board with the need for sanctions, and that he believed the Chinese will follow.

"I think there is no other solution," Kouchner told journalists. "The exact nature of the sanctions was still under discussion," he said, but added that they would be specific.

"The wealthy will be hit," Kouchner said, implying that measures to restrict access to funds outside Iran were under consideration. He also said that sanctions would be difficult to put in place.