IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Report: White House at odds over Iran

A debate within the U.S. administration over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program has intensified between those favoring a diplomatic solution and those pushing the option of military strikes, the New York Times reported in Saturday editions.
/ Source: Reuters

A debate within the U.S. administration over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program has intensified between those favoring a diplomatic solution and those pushing the option of military strikes, the New York Times reported in Saturday editions.

Citing senior administration officials and people familiar with the discussions, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, the Times said the debate had pitted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice against hawks in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, some 8,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges could be operating in Iran by year’s end, raising a significant risk it could make bombs.

The Times reported that this prospect was at the core of the debate over whether President George W. Bush should warn the Iranian leadership that Washington will not permit them to go beyond some yet-undefined number, with the implication that a military strike is an option.

Rice announced a new U.S. strategy a year ago teaming with Europe, Russia and China to pressure Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran has installed more than 1,000 centrifuges since then.

The Times reported that Rice has nevertheless become more convinced that the diplomatic option is the only choice, and that a military strike would result in disaster.

Conservatives inside the administration continue to make arguments such as that put forth recently by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation John Bolton, who said “Regime change or the use of force are the only available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, if they want it.”

The Times said the accounts of the internal discussions were provided by State Department, White House and Pentagon officials on both sides of the debate, as well as people who have spoken with both Rice and members of Cheney’s staff.