U.S. Secretary of Defense Tells Israeli Military Force Remains Option on Iran
Tel Aviv, August 4 (RHC)-- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has wrapped up a visit to Israel with a renewed vow to leave open the use of force against Iran.
In a joint public appearance, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to criticize the U.S. role in international talks over Iran’s nuclear program, saying diplomacy has failed. In response, Panetta assured Netanyahu "all options" remain on the table.
The Pentagon chief argued that all non-military means of pressuring Iran must first be exhausted before military action is called for. He said repeatedly that Washington still considers military action a possibility.
Iran asserts that its nuclear program is meant to produce civilian energy, not to make weapons. And it insists that it has a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich the uranium that can be used either to power civilian nuclear reactors or to build bombs.
In his joint appearance with Panetta at an air defense site in southern Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak sought to emphasize solidarity with the Obama administration, crediting Panetta and Obama for the "extraordinary" strength of the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship.
Panetta highlighted a series of measures the Obama administration has taken recently to improve Israel's defenses. He noted that the U.S. has invested more than $200 million in an air defense system known as Iron Dome. Panetta also said the White House is working with the builder of the Air Force's next-generation F-35 fighter to include a special package of enhancements for Israeli use.