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Talk of attacking Iran escalates tensions

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Statements by US and Israeli officials in recent days on the possibility of attacking Iran have been met with increased posturing on both sides, warnings of retaliation from Tehran, and worries by the head of the international nuclear watchdog of a "brewing confrontation."

Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut suggested that the US should consider attacking Iran to keep them from training and supplying insurgents and foreign fighters in Iraq, as well as to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq…. And to me, that would include a strike into... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."

Senator Lieberman, a former Democrat who lost his party's support before regaining his seat in Congress as an Independent, also said that if the US fails to take action against Iran, "they'll take that as a sign of weakness on our part and we will pay for it in Iraq and throughout the region and ultimately right here at home."

"We can tell them we want them to stop that, but if there's any hope of the Iranians living according to the international rule of law and stopping, for instance, their nuclear weapons development, we can't just talk to them…. If they don't play by the rules, we've got to use our force, and to me that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they're doing."

The Financial Times notes that Lieberman appears to be the first high-ranking US politician to openly suggest attacking Iran. A White House statement addressing Lieberman's remarks said that the US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker gave Iran a "strong message" to play a constructive role in the region during meetings last month on Iraq, and that President Bush "has made it clear we want to do everything to protect our troops," according to the Financial Times.

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