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Former CIA director recommends the U.S. threaten Russia and China for cooperation

By Mariam Khan -- Medill News Service   |   April 12, 2013 at 11:36 AM

WASHINGTON, April 12 -- Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey said Thursday the United States needs to pressure Russia and China to cooperate in breaking the alliance between North Korea, Syria and Iran.

“The implications of these relationships are stark for U.S. security interests,” Woolsey said at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

He recommended the U.S. threaten to stop buying gas and oil from Russia, a major supplier to the U.S.

“We need a system where we have a choice at the pump,” Woolsey said. “…something to compete with oil products to put pressure on Russia to get their attention.”

He also recommended the U.S. use sanctions against Chinese financial institutions to “target foreign banks doing business with Syrian financial institutions,” Woolsey said.

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, added, “We’re just asking China to enforce its own laws.” The House committee met with Woolsey and Albright to discuss the Iran, Syria and North Korea nexus, which involves the countries’ access to arms, including nuclear weapons.

“North Korean assistance has been instrumental in developing both Iran and Syria’s ballistic missile programs,” Woolsey said. “The U.S. objective in Syria is straightforward: to break this axis linking Iran and Hezbollah, Syria and North Korea.”

Breaking the bonds between Syria and Iran is especially important, Woolsey said, because Iran is “within months” of assembling a nuclear weapon.

“Even a primitive weapon could have a huge effect,” Woolsey said. The panel stressed to the Foreign Affairs Committee members that it is not “if” Iran gets its nuclear weapon -- but when.

“We need to destroy the axis between Iran, Syria and North Korea,” Woolsey said. “Not destroy the countries, but destroy the axis between the countries.”

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