On Friday, a day after an American cargo ship fired warning shots at two small boats off the coast of Iran, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said the Pentagon is considering various options, including military action, to deal with what he characterized as the Iranian government’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq.
The Washington Post”
“It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability,” he said at a Pentagon news conference. Speaking of Iran’s intentions, Mullen said: “They prefer to see a weak Iraq neighbor. . . . They have expressed long-term goals to be the regional power.”
Mullen made clear that he prefers a diplomatic solution and does not expect imminent action. “I have no expectations that we’re going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future,” he said.
Mullen’s statements and others by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently signal new rhetorical pressure on Iran by the Bush administration amid what officials say is increased Iranian provision of weapons, training and financing to Iraqi groups that are attacking and killing Americans.