WASHINGTON (AFP) — Opening up a third front would pose a challenge for the US military already deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, a top US military chief said Wednesday amid concerns Israel may attack Iran.
"From the US military perspective, opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us," the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen told a press conference.
"That doesn't mean we don't have capacity or reserve. But that would really be very challenging and also the consequences of that sometimes are very difficult to predict."
Israel has said it will stop Tehran developing a nuclear bomb at all costs, amid speculation that it is seeking Washington's tacit approval for a strike against the Islamic Republic's atomic program.
Israel is a key US ally in the volatile Middle East, with the two countries enjoying privileged ties, meaning that any conflict between Iran and the Jewish state would inevitably involve the United States.
But the US Army is already stretched with thousands of troops committed to fighting insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Mullen, who has just returned from a visit to Israel, refused to comment on what the US ally might be planning.
"But I'm convinced that the solution still lies in using other elements of national power to change Iranian behavior, include diplomatic, financial and international pressure.
"There is a need for better clarity, even dialogue at some level."
US President George W. Bush on Wednesday again said he had not ruled out using force in the nuclear stand-off with Iran, but emphasized that his top choice was for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
"I have always said that all options are on the table but the first option for the United States is to solve this problem diplomatically," Bush told reporters in the White House Rose Garden.
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