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Current position with Iran could lead to war, former U.S. State Department official warns

by Silas Allen Published: February 10, 2013

If the United States continues its current posture in dealing with Iran, it will almost inevitably lead to war, a former U.S. State Department official said Tuesday.

Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, spoke Tuesday at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Wilkerson said he's concerned about the course President Barack Obama is pursuing in his dealings with Iran, particularly his position that Iran must not possess a nuclear capability of any kind — either civilian or military.

“It is arguably right now staring us in the face as another potential war in western Asia,” Wilkerson said.

Last week, the U.S. further tightened sanctions against Iran, which have already slashed the country's oil revenue by 45 percent. The new measures seek to cut deeper into Iran's ability to get oil revenue. It calls on countries that buy Iranian crude — mostly Asian nations including China and India — not to transfer money directly to Iran and instead place it in local accounts.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday rejected the idea of bilateral talks with the United States, saying Tehran wouldn't negotiate under pressure.

"The U.S. is pointing a gun at Iran and wants us to talk to them,” Khamenei said. “The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions."

Wilkerson, now a visiting professor of government at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said he's concerned about the tone adopted by Obama administration officials.

Course of action

Officials have said all options are on the table for dealing with Iran, but the current course of action is diplomacy. At the moment, diplomacy appears to be limited to sanctions that have an undue impact on Iran's children and the sick, Wilkerson said.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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