Mullen Calls Iranian Nuclear Pursuit ‘Unacceptable’

DETROIT, Aug. 26, 2010 — Iran’s con­tin­ued pur­suit of nuclear capa­bil­i­ties is unac­cept­able in the eye of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said today.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses audience members at the Detroit Economic Club in Detroit
U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, address­es audi­ence mem­bers at the Detroit Eco­nom­ic Club in Detroit, Aug. 26, 2010. Mullen is on three-day Con­ver­sa­tion with the Coun­try tour to the Mid­west dis­cussing how com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers can sup­port the needs of return­ing troops and their fam­i­lies.
DoD pho­to by U.S. Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Chad J. McNee­ley
Click to enlarge

“Iran is a par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult issue,” Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told local busi­ness lead­ers here. “Their achiev­ing a nuclear weapon capa­bil­i­ty is unac­cept­able and incred­i­bly destabilizing.” 

Mullen respond­ed to this issue amid town halls with local busi­ness lead­ers and Wayne State Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents here as part of his “Con­ver­sa­tions with the Coun­try.” Local res­i­dents voiced con­cerns over the nature of the Unit­ed States’ efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. 

“This is an enor­mous chal­lenge,” he said. “We’re work­ing hard to make sure either one of those out­comes does­n’t occur, because I think either will be very bad for all of us.” The Unit­ed States is still pur­su­ing a diplo­mat­ic approach, he said. Finan­cial sanc­tions were placed on Iran in June. Mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion, the admi­ral added, is not an option the U.S. mil­i­tary cur­rent­ly wants to engage. 

Mullen said there’s much the U.S. gov­ern­ment does­n’t know about Iran. The coun­tries haven’t had an open dia­logue with each oth­er since 1979, he noted. 

“We don’t know each oth­er very well,” the admi­ral said. “You may think you know enough to under­stand the con­se­quences, but I wor­ry about mis­cal­cu­la­tion here. I wor­ry about a small inci­dent rolling itself into some­thing that could get out of hand.” 

Iran’s attain­ment of nuclear weapons would like­ly lead to a strike against Israel, Mullen said. The Israeli gov­ern­ment has a “com­plete belief” that Iran has that in mind, he added. “[Iran] is a regime that is a state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism,” he said, not­ing the Islam­ic state’s links to al-Qai­da and extrem­ist fight­ers in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It is an exis­ten­tial threat. [Nuclear] capa­bil­i­ty in hand is an exis­ten­tial threat to Israel.” 

Mullen said he is hope­ful that the issue can be resolved on diplo­mat­ic terms. How­ev­er, end­ing Iran’s nuclear pur­suit is a “very dif­fi­cult and com­plex problem.” 

“I think Iran is on path to achieve that capa­bil­i­ty, and we need to be mind­ful of that,” Mullen said. “It’s a very crit­i­cal part of the world. It’s a world that is rea­son­ably unsta­ble. And Iran con­tin­u­ing to expand on that does not bode well for any body in the world.” 

Mullen was in Detroit today as part of a three-day “Con­ver­sa­tion with the Nation” tour across the Mid­west. The trip is geared toward help­ing local com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, busi­ness­man and aca­d­e­mics hone the skills and life expe­ri­ence among mil­i­tary vet­er­ans. He met with busi­ness­man and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers in Chica­go yes­ter­day and will be in Cleve­land tomorrow. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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