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Washington - Top US Commander: Iran Sanctions Not Working

Published on: March 5, 2013 06:45 PM
By: AP
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Marine Gen. James Mattis, commander, U.S. Central Command, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2014 and the Future Years Defense Program.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Marine Gen. James Mattis, commander, U.S. Central Command, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2014 and the Future Years Defense Program.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington -  The Obama administration program of sanctions and diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities is not working, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East told a Senate committee Tuesday, adding that Tehran has a history of denial and deceit and is “enriching uranium beyond any plausible peaceful purpose.”

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Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, said it still may be possible to use sanctions and other pressure to bring Tehran “to its senses.” But he also warned that he believes Iran is using the ongoing negotiations to buy time.

“That should not be in any way construed as we should not try to negotiate. I still support the direction we’re taking,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m just — I’m paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly.”

Mattis’ blunt assessment comes amid continuing international worries and uncertainty over the purpose of Iran’s enrichment programs. Tehran denies any work on, or interest in, nuclear weapons, but international leaders believe its uranium enrichment is aimed at developing atomic weapons. The head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Monday that he can’t guarantee that Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful unless Tehran is more cooperative and inspectors are allowed access to sites where they believe work on weapons development may be taking place.

Iran, meanwhile, has shown interest in suggestions that some sanctions might be lifted if it ships out its stockpile of material that can be turned quickly into the fissile core of a nuclear weapon and shutters the plant producing it.

The Obama administration has not ruled out military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And, under questioning from senators, Mattis said the U.S. military has the ability to bring Iran to its knees.

“There are number of means to do that,” he said, “perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that’s one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., asked what the U.S. needs to do to prove that it is serious that it will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

“I fear that if they (Iran) continue to use negotiations to delay, that we will be at a point where they have nuclear-weapons capability, and then it’s too late,” she said.

Mattis also said Iran continues to pose an increasing security threat in Syria, where the Tehran government is backing the Assad regime against opposition forces, and that Iran’s Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the fight and bringing in other foreign fighters. Asked whether the U.S. has contingency plans to deal with the possible collapse of the regime, Mattis said there is “quiet planning” going on with other allies in the region.

He said chemical weapons sites in Syria are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to the chaos and civil war going on, even though as the fighting continues some weapons have been transferred to more secure locations.

“Our planning is taking this into account to the degree that it can. And I’ll just tell you that we have options prepared,” he said.

Mattis added that a collapse of the Assad regime would be the “biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.” If that happened, Mattis said he believes Iran would arm militias inside Syria and redouble efforts in other countries such as Iraq and Yemen.

Asked about arming the rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, Mattis said he has concerns because a “significant minority” of the opposition has extremist Islamic views and some are linked to al-Qaida.



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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 05, 2013 at 07:30 PM victorg Says:

It does seem like the Obama administration is poised to attack. That would certainly be a feather in his cap.

2

 Mar 05, 2013 at 07:30 PM lipa21 Says:

poor commander - he's going on the unemployment line tomorrow. see ya !!!!

3

 Mar 05, 2013 at 07:39 PM It's not working? Says:

Ohhh Yeah?

Good Morning!

So now you finally figured out, that Obama is bluffing?

Who is a bigger Bluffer?, Iran or Obama?

4

 Mar 05, 2013 at 08:15 PM bubii Says:

The iranians are without a doubdt masochists they love to be humiliated

5

 Mar 05, 2013 at 08:27 PM Liepa Says:

Finally a commander calling it what it is!

6

 Mar 05, 2013 at 09:23 PM Geulah Says:

Don't hurry to begin cheering for our boys fighting in Iran. Obama has studied Jimmy Carter's battle plans from the last Iranian incursion that the U.S. tried. Expect 4 Apache helicopters with half a tank of gas to fly low over the desert and crash somewhere there.

7

 Mar 06, 2013 at 12:07 AM Benny Says:

I can't believe someone did believe Iranians to begin with.

I always thought Americans are pretty smart, I guess it doesn't apply to politicians.

8

 Mar 06, 2013 at 08:57 AM qazxc Says:

Too bad we destroyed Iran's secular neighbor and replaced their government with a radical Muslim one aligned with Iran.

In the old days Saddam was more worried about Iran than about us and more afraid of a nuclear armed Iran than was anyone else and probably would've done our dirty work or at least turned a blind eye to the IDF using his airspace.

That closet Socialist Muslim in the White House upset the whole balance of power in the Middle East by toppling Saddam and fostering the lunacy of promoting freedom and democracy in an Arab world firmly entrenched in the 12th century.

We never should have elected a Muslim president.

9

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