Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Netanyahu: U.S. Threat to Use Force Can Deter Iran
A credible military threat by the United States is the only way to deter Iran, whose nuclear program represents the "greatest danger facing the world," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience in New Orleans, La., yesterday (see GSN, Nov. 8).
"The simple paradox is this: If the international community, led by the U.S., wants to stop Iran without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action," he said, in a speech to the Jewish Federations of North America, which is holding its general assembly in New Orleans.
Netanyahu began his five-day trip to the U.S. with a weekend meeting with Vice President Joseph Biden in New Orleans, and he will hold talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York City. Much of the official focus of his visit is to discuss ways to resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, which stalled after the Israeli moratorium on building settlements in the West Bank expired in September.
Netanyahu’s saber rattling about Iran comes at a time when the U.S. has hardened its own rhetoric toward Tehran but is counting on wide-ranging U.S. and international economic sanctions to pressure the Iranian government to curb its suspected nuclear-weapons program.
Apparently in response to the prime minister's discussions with Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Australia that the threat of military force was not the only way to deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program, as sanctions have hurt Iran more deeply than anticipated.
"I disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran to take the actions that it needs to, to end its nuclear-weapons program. We are prepared to do what is necessary, but, at this point, we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we are taking is, in fact, having an impact on Iran," Gates told reporters in Melbourne.
Although new United Nations-backed sanctions are proving detrimental to Iran so far, they are not "an end in themselves," but rather a means to persuade Tehran to conform to international nuclear regulations, Biden told the Jewish group on Sunday night. "The door to diplomacy remains open -- but there is a price to walk through that door," the vice president said.
"We continue to seek a peaceful resolution and hope that Iranian leaders will reconsider their destructive and debilitating course," Biden declared. "But let me be clear: We are absolutely committed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
The fiscal 2011 budget included a record-breaking $3 billion in military aid to Israel, and the U.S. has provided an additional $205 million for the country’s short-range missile defense system and a $400 million increase in the authority to stockpile American military equipment in Israel as a "tripwire," he said.
Additionally, last month, Israel and the U.S. held the largest joint military exercise the two countries have ever conducted. Code-named Juniper Cobra, the ballistic-missile defense maneuvers involved 1,300 U.S. military personnel, Biden noted.
Israel now has the ability to buy U.S. weapons for the first time on the "same exact terms our NATO allies can purchase those weapons," Biden said, citing provisions in the Security Cooperation Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law on October 8.
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