- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2012

The U.S. ambassador to Israel revealed this week that the United States is prepared to attack Iran to stop the Islamist regime from developing a nuclear weapon.

Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro told Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday that the Pentagon has developed plans for the “use of military force” against Iran.

Earlier this week, Mr. Shapiro used the same language in a speech that was “not intended to become public,” according to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 television news. The TV broadcast said a reporter was present at the event and recorded Mr. Shapiro’s comments.

The ambassador’s remarks to Army Radio are the first public comments by a U.S. official confirming that the United States is prepared for military acton. In the past, U.S. officials have said an attack was only an “option.”

“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” Mr. Shapiro said in the radio interview.

The Washington Times reported May 2 that the U.S. Central Command, responsible for military deployment in Central Asia and the Middle East, had developed war plans to target Iran.

The ambassador’s blunt warning to Iran comes only days before the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are due to resume talks with Iran over its nuclear program. The talks will be on Wednesday in Baghdad.

The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee criticized the resumption of talks as a waste of time.

“I am deeply concerned that the [Obama] administration’s foolish embrace of yet another round of negotiations will only embolden the regime,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said at a committee hearing on Iran sanctions Thursday.

“The administration has made concession after concession in its negotiations with Iran only to come up empty-handed.”

The Florida Republican has sponsored a House-passed bill that would impose what she calls “crippling sanctions” on Iran and “close loopholes” in the current sanctions.

LOCKE ATTACK BACKFIRES

China’s state-owned media this week attacked U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke for projecting a common touch while living in luxury, but the criticism backfired as feisty Chinese Internet users mocked the Communist Party press.

The Beijing Daily called on Mr. Locke to release his personal finances; however, the ambassador disclosed his assets in 2009, when President Obama brought him into his Cabinet as Commerce secretary. Mr. Obama appointed him ambassador to China last year.

Mr. Locke listed his net worth between $1.5 million and $5.4 million, in keeping with the U.S. practice of allowing top officials to list a range of their assets.

“Gary Locke lives in the U.S. Embassy, which costs billions of U.S. dollars. He commutes in a bulletproof Limousine,” the Beijing Daily said. “Can this be called modesty?

Chinese bloggers responded with demands that top Communist Party officials disclose their own salaries, and teased the newspaper for failing to do a simple Internet search for Mr. Locke’s financial disclosure.

AMBASSADOR TO MYANMAR

President Obama on Thursday nominated State Department official Derek Mitchell as the first U.S. ambassador to Myanmar in more than 20 years.

The selection of Mr. Mitchell, now the U.S. envoy to the Southeast Asian nation, is a step in restoring full diplomatic relations with a country long run by a military dictatorship.

The U.S. withdrew its ambassador in 1988 after the junta crushed pro-democracy protests. The military-backed government of President Thein Sein this year unexpectedly initiated political reforms, which included parliamentary elections.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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