USA — Gates Satisfied with U.S. Planning to Counter Iran

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates today expressed sat­is­fac­tion with the lev­el of plan­ning by the Defense Depart­ment and oth­er ele­ments of the U.S. gov­ern­ment to counter threats from Iran.

“I’m very sat­is­fied with the plan­ning process both with­in this build­ing and in the inter­a­gency,” Gates told Pen­ta­gon reporters. “We spend a lot of time on Iran, and we’ll con­tin­ue to do so.”

Israeli Defense Min­is­ter Ehud Barak, appear­ing along­side Gates after a meet­ing at the Pen­ta­gon, endorsed diplo­mat­ic efforts and sanc­tions to steer Iran away from its nuclear ambi­tions.

“We think that they should be blocked,” Barak said of Iran. “And I think that the time is clear­ly, at this stage, time for sanc­tions and diplo­ma­cy.”

Barak backed inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ic sanc­tions in efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambi­tions, say­ing he expects sanc­tions to be “effec­tive and to be lim­it­ed in time so we will be able to judge to whether — what kind of results stem from the sanc­tions regime.” But he added that “only time will tell to what extent they are real­ly effec­tive.”

The admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and U.S. allies are work­ing to build a con­sen­sus for pres­sur­ing Iran through eco­nom­ic sanc­tions. Iran con­tends its nuclear pur­suit is for peace­ful pur­pos­es, while many believe the coun­try seeks to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Speak­ing about the Oba­ma administration’s stance on Iran’s nuclear pur­suit, Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor Jim Jones last week said Iran failed to show that its pro­gram was for peace­ful pur­pos­es when giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty before an inter­na­tion­al audi­ence.

“To date, we have seen no indi­ca­tion that Iran’s lead­ers want to resolve these issues con­struc­tive­ly,” Jones said at the Wash­ing­ton Insti­tute for Near East Pol­i­cy here. “Iran’s gov­ern­ment must face real con­se­quences for its con­tin­ued defi­ance of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.”

Iran’s defi­ance of its inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions on its nuclear pro­gram and the country’s sup­port of ter­ror­ism rep­re­sent “a sig­nif­i­cant region­al and glob­al threat,” said Jones, empha­siz­ing that the U.S. is deter­mined to pre­vent Iran from devel­op­ing nuclear weapons.

Barak today used sim­i­lar tones to express his views on threats fac­ing Israel, among them being the poten­tial of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“These threats have broad impli­ca­tions,” he said, “not only to Israeli secu­ri­ty, but to the entire region’s secu­ri­ty and any con­ceiv­able world order.”

Defense offi­cials have described the secu­ri­ty threats posed by Iran­ian prox­ies oper­at­ing in the Mid­dle East — Hamas in Gaza and Hezbol­lah in Lebanon — which the Unit­ed States and Israel con­sid­er ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions.

The defense sec­re­tary today lashed out at Syr­ia and Iran for pro­vid­ing Hezbol­lah with rock­ets and mis­siles “of ever- increas­ing capa­bil­i­ty.”

“We are at a point now where Hezbol­lah has far more rock­ets and mis­siles than most gov­ern­ments in the world,” he said. “And this is obvi­ous­ly desta­bi­liz­ing for the whole region, and so we’re watch­ing it very care­ful­ly.”

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