A military strike against Iran is still one of the options at the president's disposal, a top US spokesman said Wednesday.
Earlier, Michele Flournoy, a senior Pentagon policy adviser, told reporters in Singapore that a military strike against Iran is an option of "last resort" and "off the table in the near term" as Washington pursues economic sanctions.
However, the Defense Department's chief spokesman clarified the remarks, stressing that no option was off the table vis-à-vis Iran.
"It clearly is not our preference to go to war with Iran, to engage militarily with Iran," he said. But "there is always the option at the president's disposal of taking military action." Geoff Morrell, clarifying that Flournoy's earlier comments should not be interpreted as a shift in strategy.
Morrell added that the Pentagon is "very confident" that it could defend the United States against the threat of an Iranian ballistic missile strike.
"We are confident that the system we have in place right now, the (ground-based interceptors) that are based in Alaska and California, are sufficient to protect us from such a threat coming in from Iran and North Korea," the Pentagon press secretary said.
The United States is concerned increasingly about Iran's missile program, particularly because Washington believes that Tehran is moving toward building a nuclear weapon.