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USA has no plan to launch a military offensive against Iran

17 December, 2017

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WASHINGTON: The United States has said that while it will continue to expose Iran’s activities in the Middle East, it has no plan to launch a military offensive to counter those activities.

“Not militarily right now, no,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis said at an impromptu news conference at the Pentagon on Friday afternoon when asked if Washington could respond to those activities militarily.

On Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley launched a media offensive against Iran, highlighting its alleged subversive activities in the Middle East and its illegal arms programme.

Ambassador Haley stood in front of an Iranian missile that the Houthi rebels allegedly fired at Riyadh International Airport in Saudi Arabia. The missile didn’t hit the airport, but she said that if it had, the missile potentially could have killed hundreds of innocent civilians.

Referring to the decision to use a US military ­— Anacostia-Bolling — for Ambassador Haley’s briefing, a journalist asked Secretary Mattis if this’s a back-up for a future a military action against Iran.

“No, the reason Ambassador Haley was there, and not one of our generals, is this is a diplomatically led effort to expose to the world what Iran is up to,” he said.

Secretary Mattis claimed that Ambassador Haley also shared with the media physical evidence to support her claim Iran is providing ballistic missiles to the Houthis.

“What we are doing in that region,” he added, “is standing by allies and partners, and we’re on one hand exposing, on the other hand helping them build their own capability to reject Iranian influence.”

In addition to its support the Houthis in Yemen, Iran was supporting similar non-state actors in other parts of the Middle East, the US defence secretary said.

“We find Iran actively engaged in keeping [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in power, des­pite the murder of his own people on the industrial scale, including the use of chemical weapons,” Mr Mattis said. “We see what [Iran has] done with Lebanese Hezbollah in Lebanon and the threat to peace and the support they’ve giv­en to Assad and the threat to Israel, for example.”

Depicting Iran as the source of all troubles in the Middle East, he said: “Everywhere you find turmoil, you find Iran’s hand in it.”

The Trump administration is also trying to undo a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran with claims that Tehran is violating the agreement while the United States and other Western nations have kept their part of the pledge by relaxing economic and diplomatic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

But on Friday, both Japan and Russia, which is also one of the parties to the deal, refused to endorse the US claim.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York that Japan continues to support the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “So far we have not confirmed any violation (of the deal) by Iran,” he added.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the Russian parliament on Friday that a possible breakdown of the nuclear deal would send a wrong signal and complicate efforts to persuade North Korea to stop testing nuclear weapons.

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