WASHINGTON - It is not too late to prevent Iran
from obtaining nuclear capabilities, American diplomat Dennis Ross said Tuesday.
Ross, who recently resigned as Barack Obama's
special adviser on the Middle East, noted that the US president did not hesitate to use military force when necessary and would not hesitate to do so against Iran, but only as a last resort.
Speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Ross said the goal was not to contain Iran, but to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear arms.
Ross claimed there was still time to block Iran's nuclear program with diplomatic means. The veteran diplomat, who has worked for five American presidents, said he was convinced the Iranians were feeling the pressure, but stressed that the international community should impose further sanctions against Tehran, including its central bank.
Ross said he was convinced that when Obama says all options are on the table with regards to Iran, he does not mean to say that the military option is the preferred one.
The American diplomat rejected comparisons between the current nuclear crisis and the Cold War, saying that as opposed to the US and Soviet Union at the time, there are currently no channels of communication between Israel
and Iran – a situation he claims increases the risk of a war between the two countries.
According to Ross, should Iran manage to obtain nuclear weapons, the chances of a nuclear war would increase dramatically. He continued to say that while the White House would like to see a regime change in Iran, it is currently focusing on ways to stop Iran's nuclear program.
Addressing Washington's opposition to an immediate embargo on Iranian oil, Ross explained that the US prefers to operate in a gradual manner in order to avoid a sharp increase in the price of oil. Ross said such a price hike would hurt the world's economy, adding that the Obama Administration hopes that as a first step the Europeans would begin importing Libyan
and Iraqi oil instead of Iranian oil. Such a development, according to Ross, would not lead to an increase in the price of oil.
The US and France
agree that it is important to diminish Iran's ability to influence the price of oil before imposing an oil embargo, Ross stated.
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