U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged today that increasingly stiff international sanctions have yet to compel Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. But he argued that more pressure eventually would lead Iran to “do what’s right.”
Iran’s disputed nuclear program, which Tehran contends is only for peaceful purposes, is a prominent backdrop to Panetta’s five-day tour of the Middle East and North Africa. On Wednesday he’ll be in Israel, whose leaders have said they are contemplating a military attack on Iran to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, a step they view as a threat to Israel’s very existence.
The Obama administration wants Israel to give sanctions and diplomacy more time to steer Iran off its nuclear course, although Panetta repeated the administration’s standard line that “all options” are on the table in the event that non-military pressure does not work.
“These sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy in Iran,” he told reporters during a visit to the North Africa American Military Cemetery, where 2,841 U.S. servicemen killed in the North Africa campaign against Nazi Germany in 1942-1943 are buried.\
“And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to negotiate (with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution,” he said.
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