Panetta: Military option against Iran ready and available

US secretary of defense tells ABC news neither Washington nor international community will allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, adds preference for diplomacy over military intervention.

 

The military option against Iran is ready and available, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Sunday in an interview with ABC News’ This Week.

“The fundamental premise is that neither the United States nor the international community is going to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” Panetta said. “We will do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon.”

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta [file] - Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta - Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing

Panetta referenced recent comments made earlier this month by US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro that Washington has a military contingency plan, should diplomatic talks fail to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program. “It would be preferable to solve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure, than to use military force,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that option isn’t fully available. Not just available, it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready.”

“The international community has been unified,” he said. “We’ve put very tough sanctions on them as a result of that.. We are prepared for any sort of contingency in that part of the world.”

During the course of the interview, the US secretary of defense also addressed the issues of NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan as well as the growing threat of cyber warfare.

Panetta met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon earlier this month, with the aim of coordinating strategy with the US ahead of the second round of talks between western powers and Iran scheduled to open next week in Baghdad.

Iran struck a defiant tone at the P5+1 negotiations that kicked off on May 23, seemingly rejecting calls to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, one of the West’s key demands in negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program.

 

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By YONI DAYAN