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U.S. Dismisses Speculation Over Strikes Against Iran

April 10, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The White House on Sunday sought to dampen talk of a U.S. military strike on Iran, saying the United States is conducting "normal defense and intelligence planning" as President Bush seeks a diplomatic solution to Tehran's nuclear program.

Administration officials -- from Bush down -- have left open the possibility of a military response if Iran does not end its nuclear program. Several reports published Sunday said the administration was studying options for military strikes; one account raised the possibility of nuclear bombs being used against Iran's underground atomic sites.

Britain's foreign secretary called the idea of a nuclear strike "completely nuts."

Dan Bartlett, counselor to Bush, cautioned against reading too much into administration planning.

"The president's priority is to find a diplomatic solution to a problem the entire world recognizes," Bartlett said Sunday. "And those who are drawing broad, definitive conclusions based on normal defense and intelligence planning, are ill-informed and are not knowledgeable of the administration's thinking on Iran."

Experts say a military strike on Iran would be risky and complicated.

U.S. forces already are preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan, and an attack against Iran could inflame U.S. problems in the Muslim world.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program. But Iran has refused to halt its nuclear activity, saying the small-scale enrichment project was strictly for research and not for development of nuclear weapons.

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