'US would take action if Iran closes Hormuz'
LAST UPDATED: 01/08/2012 17:55
US army chief Dempsey says Iran could block Strait of Hormuz, but US would get it back open.
Iranian submarine in Strait of Hormuz Photo: REUTERS/Stringer Iran
has the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz “for a period of time,”
and the US would take action to reopen it, Joint Chiefs of Staff
chairman General Martin Dempsey said Sunday.
“They’ve invested in
capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait
of Hormuz,” Dempsey said in an interview airing on the CBS “Face
the Nation” program. “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if
that happens, we can defeat that.”
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Should Iran try to close
Hormuz, the US “would take action and reopen” the waterway, said
Dempsey, US President Barack Obama’s top military adviser.
the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic shipping lane linking the Gulf of Oman
with the Persian Gulf, would constitute a “red line” for the US, as
would Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon, Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta said on the same program.
Continued pressure, rather than
threats of air strikes, is the best way to forestall Iran from
developing nuclear weapons, Panetta said.
Panetta: Applying pressure on Iran is the responsible course of action
While the US shouldn’t “take any option off the table,“ Panetta said
“the responsible thing to do right now is to keep putting diplomatic and
economic pressure on them to force them to do the right thing and to
make sure that they do not make the decision to proceed with the
development of a nuclear weapon.”
candidate Rick Santorum said January 1 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he
would use air strikes against Iran unless the country dismantled its
nuclear program or allowed inspectors to verify that the work isn’t
aimed at making a weapon.
Dempsey suggested that curbing Iran’s nuclear work by bombing its facilities would be difficult.
rather not discuss the degree of difficulty and in any way encourage
them to read anything into that,” Dempsey said. “My responsibility is to
encourage the right degree of planning, to understand the risks
associated with any kind of military option.”
US plans in case of Israeli strike
Israel decide to undertake a unilateral military strike against Iran,
the US priority would be protecting American troops in the region,
Dempsey and Panetta sought on CBS to provide
assurances that the new US military strategy, announced last week, won’t
limit the US ability to stop aggressors.
“What we’re looking to
do here is not constrain ourselves to a two-war construct, but rather
build a force that has the kind of agility” needed to adapt to any
scenario, Dempsey said. Previous US war planning called for preparing to
fight two conventional wars simultaneously.
The plan was driven
by the need to cut almost $490 billion from projected Pentagon spending
through 2021, including about $261 billion through 2017. Panetta said
last week the details won’t be released until the Pentagon presents its
2013 budget request to Congress by early February.