Graham Discusses Potential Military Action Against Iran

Posted November 7, 2010 at 3:38pm

Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted GOP support for measures beyond sanctions to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, news organizations reported Saturday.

If President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon,” the South Carolina Republican said Saturday during an appearance at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran. … Containment is off the table,” said Graham, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Sen. Mark Udall urged continued sanctions during a panel discussion with Graham, but the Colorado Democrat added that “every option is on the table,” AFP reported.

The United States suspects that Iran is using its uranium enrichment program to make nuclear weapons, which Iran denies. The European Union has proposed that Iran resume talks about the issue with world powers this month in Geneva, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said that Nov. 15 had been suggested for a meeting, CNN reported. The two sides last met in October 2009.
 
Graham told reporters in Halifax, “We’re probably even past” the point where a conventional limited airstrike can take out Iran’s nuclear program, CNN reported.
 
“Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies,” he said. “And that’s a different military scenario. It’s not a ground invasion, but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back.”

The United States would need to be prepared for retaliation, possibly including attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and terrorist attacks worldwide, Graham said.

“You can expect that,” he said, according to CNN. “You can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose. You must have to almost plan for that. And weigh that against the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran and what that means to the future of the world.”
 
Economic sanctions could still work, Graham said, but he said President Barack Obama should be “bolder” and target the nation’s refined petroleum products, which the Senator identified as a key economic vulnerability, CNN reported.