Saturday, February 18, 2012
US Intel Chief: Iran Unlikely to Start Conflict Read more on Newsmax.com: US Intel Chief: Iran Unlikely to Start Conflict Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!
U.S. intelligence agencies predict that Iran will respond if attacked but is unlikely to start a conflict, and they believe that Israel has not taken a decision to strike Iranian nuclear sites, a top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday.
With those comments, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, answered two key questions surrounding escalating tensions with Iran after the United States increased sanctions over its nuclear program.
Burgess also said that despite the ratcheting up of sanctions on Iran, the country's leaders are unlikely to abandon their suspected nuclear weapons program.
Iran responded to the new sanctions that target its central bank and oil exports by threatening to close a key oil shipping lane. There have also been concerns that Israel might strike Iranian nuclear facilities and escalate tensions further.
The West suspects Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons, while Tehran says it is peaceful.
"Iran can close the Strait of Hormuz at least temporarily, and may launch missiles against United States forces and our allies in the region if it is attacked," Burgess told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
"Iran could also attempt to employ terrorist surrogates worldwide. However, the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict," he said.
Asked bluntly whether intelligence agencies believed Israel had made a decision to attack Iran, Burgess replied: "To the best of our knowledge Israel has not decided to attack Iran."
On the sanctions, Burgess said Iran was nowhere near giving up its nuclear aspirations.
"Iran today has the technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons. While international pressure against Iran has increased, including through sanctions, we assess that Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandoning its nuclear program," Burgess said.
Read more on Newsmax.com: US Intel Chief: Iran Unlikely to Start Conflict