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Thu Feb 16, 2012, 01:27 PM

Iran Unlikely to Strike First, U.S. Official Says [View all]

By Tony Capaccio - Thu Feb 16 16:26:39 GMT 2012

The Iranian military is unlikely to intentionally provoke a conflict with the West, the top U.S. military intelligence official said today.

Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Iran probably has the ability to “temporarily close the Strait of Hormuz with its naval forces,” as some Iranian officials have threatened to do if attacked or in response to sanctions on its oil exports by the U.S. and European Union.

“Iran has also threatened to launch missiles against the United States and our allies in the region in response to an attack,” Burgess said in testimony at a hearing today of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It could also employ its terrorist surrogates worldwide. However, it is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preemptive attack.”

Iran has the capability to strike regional and European targets with its ballistic missiles and is seeking to improve their accuracy, Burgess said in the latest U.S. public assessment of Iran’s military prowess. Iran’s regional military capability continues to improve, with new ships and submarines and expanded bases in the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, he said.



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