Panetta: U.S. “Won’t Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon. Period”


U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stressed the U.S. “rock solid commitment to the security of Israel and to the security of its citizens” during his visit to the Iron Dome battery in Israel, August 1.

— by Danielle Lehrer

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta landed in Israel to reaffirm the “close defense ties between Israel and the U.S” and to discuss efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Panetta met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. According to the Defense Department, stopping Iran’s nuclear program was “square on the agenda.”

Panetta stated during his trip:

Israeli and American leaders ‘continue to work together in the effort to ensure that Iran does not reach that point of developing a nuclear weapon.’

‘What we are discussing is various contingencies and how we would respond,’ Panetta said. ‘We don’t talk about specific military plans. We continue to run a number of options in that area, but the discussions I will have in Israel [will be to determine] the threat we are confronting and to share both information and intelligence on it.’

And:

‘The United States,’ he said, ‘will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Period.’

‘I want you and the people of Israel to know a few things that have not and will not change,’ he said. ‘The United States stands firmly with Israel and we have a rock solid commitment to the security of Israel and to the security of its citizens.’

After his praise for the Obama Administration this week, Barak said:

When we say all the options are on the table, and when the Americans say all the options are on the table, we mean it, and I believe the Americans mean it.

During his trip, Panetta visited one of the U.S.-funded Iron Dome batteries that are protecting Israel from rocket attacks. The American Forces Press Service published an article today about how the Iron Dome missile defense system is an important demonstration of U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation. Click here to read it.

More photos from Panetta’s trip appear after the jump.

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