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Panetta: ‘We’ll attack Iran if diplomacy fails’

US secretary of defense also praises the American-Israeli alliance: ‘We are stronger when we act as one.’

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington (photo credit: CC-BY-Secretary of Defense, Flickr)
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington (photo credit: CC-BY-Secretary of Defense, Flickr)

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the AIPAC conference Tuesday that only if diplomacy fails would the US carry out a military strike against Iran.

Panetta was speaking on the final day of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used his address to warn the world of the danger of a nuclear Iran.

“Military action is the last alternative when all else fails,” Panetta said. “But make no mistake, we will act if we have to.”

By and large, however, the defense secretary reiterated President Barack Obama’s stance that diplomacy and sanctions must be given time to work.

“We want diplomacy to work, we will back the diplomacy with strong and increasing pressure, we will keep all options – including military action – on the table to prevent (Iran) from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Panetta said.

The defense secretary also praised the American-Israeli alliance, saying “our shared desire and our shared commitment to working together are absolutely essential.”

Like Obama, Panetta urged Israeli compliance with the American strategy towards Iran.

“The United States must always have the unshakeable trust of our ally Israel,” he said. “We are stronger when we act as one.”

 

 

 

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