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Pentagon Intelligence Chief: Nobody Wants War, Including Iran

July 20, 2019 (EIRNS)—Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Aspen Security Forum yesterday that Iran does not want to start a war with the U.S. or anyone else in the Persian Gulf. Ashley wouldn’t comment on the Iranian seizure of a British tanker in response to a question about it from CNN’s Jim Sciutto, but he later said that none of the United States’ major adversaries or competitors, including Iran, China and Russia, want to start a war. “The outcome would be very horrific for all,” he said.

“I see Iran at an inflection point,” Ashley said. The question for policymakers, he said, is how to get Iran to change the status quo. “Now you heard the economic breakdown, in terms of the pressure that’s on the regime, where the GDP is going, the fact that they are going into recession, and the glide path that they are on is more of the same,” Ashley said.

Afterwards, according to a report by Defense One, Ashley, asked if the Iranian tanker seizure was likely in retaliation for the detention of the Grace 1 tanker by British authorities in Gibraltar, he said that Iran typically looks for “things that are proportional in nature” to respond to actions from other nations that it considers a threat.

Broadly, Iran is seeking to “break the status quo” of the Trump Administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign of stifling sanctions, Ashley told reporters after the session. “They’re not looking to do something that is going to spiral out of control because war is not what they’re looking for,” he said. “But at the same time, their decision calculus is they’ve got to do something in response.”

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