U.S. Defense Secretary says U.S. not planning on attacking Iran

By The Associated Press


Shvat 15, 5767

United States Defense Minister Robert Gates said Friday that the U.S. does not plan on attacking Iran.

Gates told reporters the decision to send additional aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf does not indicate a desire on the part of the U.S. to go to war with Iran.

He said the United States is trying to prevent Iran's involvement in the violence in Iraq, and is trying to force them to abandon their uranium enrichment activities.

Gates added that there is still no evidence that Iranian forces were involved in an attack last week on American forces in Karbala, Iraq in which 5 U.S. soldiers were killed.

On Thursday, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said no option can be taken off the table when dealing with that Iran.

"U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons," the Democrat told a crowd of Israel supporters. "In dealing with this threat ... no option can be taken off the table."

Clinton spoke at a Manhattan dinner held by the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the U.S., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Some 1,700 supporters applauded as she cited her efforts on Israel's behalf and spoke scathingly of Iran's decision to hold a conference last month that questioned whether the Holocaust took place.

"To deny the Holocaust places Iran's leadership in company with the most despicable bigots and historical revisionists," Clinton said, criticizing what she called the Iranian administration's pro-terrorist, anti-American, anti-Israeli rhetoric.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called the Holocaust a myth and said Israel should be wiped off the map and its Jews returned to Europe.

Iran insists its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not weapons.

Ahmadinejad said Thursday his government is determined to continue with its nuclear program, despite UN Security Council sanctions imposed over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel to generate electricity or for the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

Clinton, the front-runner for her party's presidential nomination, called for dialogue with foes of the United States, saying Iran uses its influence and its revenues in the region to support terrorist elements.

"We need to use every tool at our disposal, including diplomatic and economic in addition to the threat and use of military force," she said.