WASHINGTON -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Sunday indirectly confirmed recent remarks by the ambassador to Israel that the U.S. is “ready from a military perspective’’ to stop Iran from making a nuclear weapon if international pressure fails (see GSN, May 25).
The U.S. and members of the United Nations Security Council recently met in Baghdad for talks about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapon program. Iran denies it has military intentions but has called for the destruction of Israel.
“We have plans to be able to implement any contingency we have to in order to defend ourselves,’’ Panetta said on ABC’s This Week. Earlier, Panetta said, “The fundamental premise is that neither the United States or the international community is going to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon" (see GSN, May 17).
Panetta defended the U.S. military’s use of drones to kill terrorists, resulting in some civilian casualties, calling them “one of the most precise weapons that we have in our arsenal.’’
He also insisted that the administration did not share any “inappropriate’’ details with filmmakers making a movie about Osama bin Laden, despite criticism from members of Congress.
Panetta also condemned Pakistan for sentencing a doctor to prison for helping the U.S. hunt down terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Shakil Afridi was convicted last week of high treason and sentenced to 33 years, sparking outrage in Washington. Some lawmakers suggested cutting U.S. aid to Pakistan.
“It is so difficult to understand and it’s so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times,” Panetta said. "This doctor was not working against Pakistan. He was working against al-Qaida.''