Mullen: Engagement with Iran must be realistic

Head of US Joint Chiefs of Staff tells CNN Iran is lying about nuclear program being "peaceful"; calls on Wikileaks to stop releasing info.

November 27, 2010 11:04
2 minute read.
US Chairman of Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen

Adm. Mike Mullen 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

The US needs to be realistic about its efforts to engage Iran, and the Islamic Republic's leaders are lying about Teheran's nuclear ambitions which are focused on building nuclear weapons, US military senior officer Adm. Mike Mullen said in a CNN interview to air on Sunday, according to a Reuters report.

He added that the US military has been working on military options on Iran "for a significant period of time" but that diplomacy is still the main option behind US efforts.

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"I still think it's important we focus on the dialogue, we focus on the engagement, but also do it in a realistic way that looks at whether Iran is actually going to tell the truth, actually engage and actually do anything," Mullen said.

When Asked whether he believed Iran's claims that its nuclear program was meant for peaceful purposes, the US military leader said: "I don't believe it for a second."

"In fact, the information and intelligence that I've seen speak very specifically to the contrary," Reuters quoted Mullen as saying.

"Iran is still very much on a path to be able to develop nuclear weapons, including weaponizing them, putting them on a missile and being able to use them."

Speaking on North Korea, Mullen told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that recent developments between North and South Korea reflect increasing instability that "could be very dangerous."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is running a country "that's starving its people, whose economy is absolutely dreadful. And he continues to take actions -- and I think very deliberate actions -- to destabilize a region," Mullen said.

"That could be very dangerous for all of us, including -- not just the regional players, although I think, certainly, China has a great deal at stake with stability."

"What happened with the killing of the 46 South Korean sailors, what happened with the development of the uranium enrichment facility, as well as, obviously, the artillery incident ... there are many that believe this is part of [Kim Jong-Il's] posturing for the succession of his young son," the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said. "But I believe his main focus is to continue to develop nuclear weapons, to continue to get the world's attention and to continue to try to move himself up to a level that is regarded as a, you know, sort of a world player."

Mullen also commented on Afghanistan and Wikileaks' plan to leak more government documents, stressing that this could endanger the lives of US soldiers.

"What I don't think those who are in charge of Wikileaks understand is we live in a world where just a little bitty piece of information can be added to a network of information and really open up an understanding that just wasn't there before," Mullen stated. "So it continues to be extremely dangerous. And I would hope that those who are responsible for this would, at some point in time, think about the responsibility that they have for lives that they're exposing ... and stop leaking this information."

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