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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lindsey Graham Slams Obama On Terrorism: "Neuter Iran"

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham: Consider Neutering Iran's "Ability To Wage War"

A leading Senate Republican voice on defense issues said Saturday the United States should consider neutering Iran's navy and air force if Tehran does not halt its nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, told reporters that there will come a point where Iran's nuclear program will reach the state that a conventional limited air strike "won't take them out."

"We're probably even past that point," he said.

"Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we're to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime's ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that's a different military scenario. It's not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back."

The United States believes Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran claims its program is for peaceful purposes.

The senator said that if the United States did attack Iran's navy and air force, Iran could retaliate with unconventional attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and launch terrorist attacks in other parts of the world.

"You can expect that," he said. "You can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose. You must have to almost plan for that. And weigh that against the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran and what that means to the future of the world."

Graham told reporters he believes there still is time for economic sanctions to work, but he says the sanctions currently in place are not "crippling."

"If [the Iranians] don't believe we will hit the military, if they believe that's not a possibility, then I think our ability to turn this around is very limited with sanctions."

President Obama should be "bolder," he said, targeting Iran's refined petroleum products, which he said is a key economic vulnerability of the regime.

Graham said he wishes Obama "would call in our Russian and Chinese friends and say, 'Listen, we're all in this together. There is no upside to a nuclear-armed Iran. Containment doesn't work. It's a nightmare for all of us. Please help me. If you don't, I'm going to have to go another way' and just let everybody begin to know that the other way is a growing reality.'"

Graham said he does not know when Iran will achieve "redundant" nuclear capability, "but I think it's probably not multiple years."

"This whole debate about how long -- I can't give you a definitive answer," he said, "but I can tell you every day is a day to be used one way or the other. And every day that goes by and we're indifferent, and less decisive, then that's a day lost."

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers have been stalled since October 1, 2009, when the two sides last met in Geneva, Switzerland.

The European Union has proposed the two sides meet again in mid-November back in Geneva. Manouchehr Mottaki, Iranian foreign minister, has said that November 15 had been suggested for a meeting date.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran is ready to hold talks, but has warned that the Islamic republic won't yield any of its international rights to peaceful nuclear energy development, according to reports by state media.

A Council on Foreign Relations paper published in March said two developments raised suspicions over whether Iran's program is just for peaceful purposes.

It cites the September 2009 "revelation of a second uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom --constructed under the radar of international inspectors," and a U.N. nuclear agency report that "detailed Iran's potential for producing a nuclear weapon, including further fuel enrichment and plans for developing a missile-ready warhead."

"Neuter" Iran Over Nukes, U.S. Senator Says

A U.S. lawmaker sent ripples through an international audience Saturday saying his country should be prepared to launch a military attack on Iran that would "neuter" the hard line regime.

But Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who was in attendance, said a military attack on Iran would have negative fallout, and that international sanctions are preferable.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Saturday his party would support military action against Iran that would destroy its ability to fight back while allowing its people to rise up.

Graham surprised attendees at the Halifax International Security Forum with his hawkish rhetoric, saying an attack could cripple Iran's nuclear program as well as its armed forces.

The U.S. and its Western allies, including Canada, believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran maintains it is peacefully pursuing nuclear power to meet its energy needs.

Graham noted that international sanctions are beginning to work on Iran, but says U.S. President Barack Obama should make it "abundantly clear" that all options are on the table.

"So my view of military force would be not to just neutralize their nuclear program, which are probably dispersed and hardened, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard," Graham told a panel.

"In other words, neuter that regime."

Graham said the last thing his country needs is another war, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran.

Asked about Graham's tough proposal, MacKay told a later panel: "No question there would be a negative reaction to that course of action. Although I know that has perhaps provoked some of the hottest discussions in the hallways."

MacKay said collective international sanctions can be used to fight Iran and change the country's thinking. He said sanctions are aimed at the regime, not its people.

Graham created the biggest buzz at the second annual security conference that MacKay is hosting in his home province. Graham serves on six senate committees, including armed services, homeland security and veterans' affairs. He also serves in the U.S. military as an active member of the Air Force reserves.

"Nobody would like to see the sanctions work any more than I would because I'm still in the military and I get to meet these young men and women on a regular basis and I know what it's been like for the last nine years," he told an audience of foreign politicians, diplomats and academics.

"And if you use military force, if sanctions are not going to work, and a year from now it's pretty clear they're not going to work, what do our friends in Israel do?"

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said "we are still in the stage of diplomacy and sanctions" but that Iran remains a threat.

"Based on experience and looking at the example they're using, which is probably the North Korean example, you can easily see the basic objective is to defy, defeat and deter the whole world," said Barak.

"I will be happy . . . to end up finding myself wrong, based on future developments, but I wonder whether this is the case."

A fellow U.S. senator, Democrat Mark Udall, said he wasn't willing to completely support Graham because what he was advocating would have "worldwide repercussions."

"I'm not willing to put my support behind that step here in a theoretical context, but I think you've got to keep every option on the table and let the Iranian regime know that we're deadly serious, not just as the United States of America, but as a world community," Udall told Graham and his other fellow panelists.

Sources: CNN, CTV, News.Ca.Msn, Youtube

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