Friday, May 18, 2012 17:00 EDT
The Republican-led House of Representatives approved Friday the use of US force against Iran if the Tehran regime threatens the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.
According to a section of the National Defense Authorization Act, “it shall be the policy of the United States to take all necessary measures, including military action if required, to prevent Iran from threatening the United States, its allies or Iran’s neighbors with a nuclear weapon.”
Lawmakers by a vote of 299-120 passed the sweeping legislation, which sets out a total of $642.5 billion in military expenditures for the coming fiscal year.
The bill including the tough Iran language came just a day after a non-binding but sharply worded House resolution put pressure on President Barack Obama to prevent Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program and reject policy merely aimed at containing a nuclear weapons-capable Iran.
Friday’s measure would make the possible use of force a key plank in US policy to prevent Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb.
The bill would still need to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, where Obama’s allies are highly unlikely to pass the House version without substantial changes.
Obama has already threatened to veto the measure if it prevents his administration from carrying out its defense strategy.
The House legislation would require the US military to prepare a plan to boost the presence of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Middle East, and conduct military exercises “or other visible, concrete military readiness activities.”
Iran and the P5+1 powers — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany — are preparing to meet next week in Baghdad for crunch talks on Tehran’s contested nuclear program.