US commander warns Iran nukes may invite attack by other regional power
WASHINGTON (AFP) Mar 02, 2005
A top US military commander warned Wednesday that Iran may invite attack by another regional power if it succeeds in developing nuclear weapons.
General John Abizaid, head of the US Central Command, told members of Congress he was surprised the Iranian military had not given more thought to the strategic consequences of acquiring nuclear weapons.
"I would think it would not be a good idea to develop a weapon because it puts you behind the rest of the powers, it assumes all the powers in the region -- not the United States, but the powers in the region -- can accept the fact that you'll be nuclear armed," he said.
"You have to ask the question whether or not achieving a nuclear weapon doesn't invite attack by one of the regional powers," he said.
"And so the question for a military person should be is a nuclear armed Iran more stable or less stable in the regional context. And it's my view that it is less stable," he said.
Abizaid mentioned no regional power by name, but Vice President Dick Cheney warned earlier this year that Israel might strike to shut down Iran's nuclear program.
The general was asked to put himself in the shoes of an Iranian military officer who sees US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and neighbors such as Israel, Russia, Pakistan and India with nuclear weapons.
He said he believe ideological politicians, not military professionals, were driving the argument in Iran for nuclear weapons.
Iran's money would be better spent on conventional means of offsetting superior US forces in the region, he said.
"I think they have to understand our long-term presence in the region, once stability is achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan, is bound to go down," he said.
"It doesn't appear from our military movements -- at least if I were an Iranian professional -- that we have any designs upon them."
"From a strategic point of view you look and see where the American flags are, but from a posture point of view you know clearly what's defensive and what's offensive. And our posture is not offensively oriented," he said.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.