The United States used a secret diplomatic channel to tell Iranian
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneni that closing the Strait of
Hormuz would constitute crossing a "red line," The New York Times reported Friday.
What Washington's response to an Iranian breach of its red lines remained unclear.
EU governments consider delay on any Iran oil ban
Ayalon says stiffening sanctions have Iran panicky
US Joint Chiefs of Staff
chairman General Martin Dempsey said Sunday that while Iran
has the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz “for a period of time,” the US would take action to reopen it in such an event.
“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.”
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, US 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.
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.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.