Iran is not yet fully convinced the West intends to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, despite statements by the US and Israel regarding possible military action, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the outset of his meeting with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Wednesday.
“Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program,” Netanyahu said. “This must change, and it must change quickly, because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.”
“You recently said that sanctions on Iran are having a big impact on the Iranian economy and that is correct. And I’m sure that the recent sanctions advanced by the President and the Congress will have an even greater impact on Iran’s economy. But unfortunately, it’s also true that neither sanctions nor diplomacy have yet had any impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu told Panetta.
Panetta reiterated that the United States stands with Israel and is committed to its security, and that “all options” — including military force — are possible. “We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period… We will exert all efforts to ensure this does not happen,” he said.
“I want you and the people of Israel to know a few things that have not and will not change. 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. And make no mistake, we will remain determined to prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Panetta added.
Earlier Wednesday Panetta said Iran must either negotiate acceptable limits on its nuclear program or face the possibility of US military action to stop it from getting the bomb.
President Shimon Peres told Panetta on Wednesday: “If it [Iran] can be stopped by non-military acts it would be better for all.” But, he added, unless the Iranians understand that there is a credible military alternative, they will not get the message.