No consensus on use of force against Libyan regime: US
US has played down the possibility of its military intervention in Libya, saying there is no agreement within NATO about the use of force even as the Pentagon has moved some of air and naval assets near the strife-torn African nation.
"I would note that the UN Security Council resolution provides no authorisation for the use of armed force. There is no unanimity within NATO for the use of armed force," US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at Pentagon.
"The kinds of options that have been talked about in the press and elsewhere also have their own consequences and second and third order effects. So they need to be considered very carefully," he said.
On Saturday, UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution ordering an arms embargo, a travel ban and assets freeze against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his supporters. The 15-member body also referred the recent events in Libya to the International Criminal Court.
Gates said his job is to give the President "the broadest possible decision space and options, and to go into the things that we're thinking about, the options that we're providing, I think, have the potential to narrow his decision space. And I have no intention of doing that."
The US official said he has directed several Navy ships to the Mediterranean.
The USS Kearsarge and the Ponce will be entering the Mediterranean shortly and will provide US a capability for both emergency evacuations and also for humanitarian relief, he said.
The Pentagon is sending 400 of the 1,400 Marines from the Kearsarge serving in Afghanistan.
"So those are the actions that we have taken at this point. We're obviously looking at a lot of options and contingencies. No decisions have been made on any other actions," he said.
Gates said all of the options beyond the humanitarian assistance and evacuation are complex.
"The second and third-order consequences, I think, derive from the fact that they are complex. For example, if we move additional assets, what are the consequences of that for Afghanistan, for the Persian Gulf? And what other allies are prepared to work with us in some of these things? So I think those are some of the effects that we have to think about," the official argued.
"We also have to think about, frankly, the use of the US military in another country in the Middle East. So I think we're sensitive about all of these things, but we will provide the president with a full range of options," he added.