Panetta Cites ‘Red Lines’ Iran Should Avoid

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2012 — The nation is open to reach­ing diplo­mat­ic solu­tions with Iran, but is keep­ing all options on the table in case clear-cut “red lines” are crossed, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said today.

Speak­ing to mem­bers of a House Appro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee, Panet­ta said Iran is becom­ing increas­ing­ly iso­lat­ed in the world.

“The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has sent a very clear mes­sage,” he said. “We will not tol­er­ate this. You’ve got to change your ways. You’ve got to come into the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty. You’ve got to abide by inter­na­tion­al laws, rules and reg­u­la­tions.”

The Unit­ed States and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty share the same con­cerns, Panet­ta not­ed. First, he said, “We will not allow Iran to devel­op a nuclear weapon.”

Panet­ta said intel­li­gence reports clear­ly indi­cate that Iran con­tin­ues to devel­op its enrich­ment capa­bil­i­ty; how­ev­er, “intel­li­gence does not show they’ve made the deci­sion to pro­ceed with devel­op­ing a nuclear weapon.”

“That is the red line that would con­cern us and that would ensure the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, hope­ful­ly togeth­er, would respond,” he said.

The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty also will not allow Iran to close the Strait of Hor­muz, the sec­re­tary said. The strait is the only sea pas­sage to the open ocean for petro­le­um-pro­duc­ing nations in the Per­sian Gulf region. Iran recent­ly threat­ened to cut off access to the strait if the Unit­ed States con­tin­ues to main­tain an air­craft car­ri­er pres­ence there.

Oth­er con­cerns include the spread of vio­lence, the country’s sup­port of ter­ror­ism and its attempts to under­mine oth­er nations, Panet­ta added.

“All of that has been made very clear,” he said.

The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has imple­ment­ed strong diplo­mat­ic and eco­nom­ic sanc­tions that are hav­ing “a very strong impact,” he said.

“We are open … to nego­ti­a­tions with them to try to find a diplo­mat­ic solu­tion to these issues, but we do keep all options on the table in the event the red lines, I just made very clear, are crossed,” Panet­ta said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)