Last Wednesday, the U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, told Iran that all options including US Military force would be possible if Iran did not negotiate acceptable limitations on their nuclear program. Panetta said if Iran continues with the nuclear weapon program, the US Military will have to consider options to destroy it and ensure it doesn?t proceed.
The meeting took place in southern Israel, with Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister standing beside Panetta.? Barak does not believe Iran will stop its nuclear activities through economic sanctions and diplomacy.? Previously, the United States discouraged Israel from taking a pre-emptive military strike against Iran, but is keeping the option for US Military action open should negotiations fail.? The Obama administration does not want Israel to attack Iran prematurely, as they believe tougher sanctions with Iran will eventually lead them to submit and cease its nuclear ambitions.? Additionally, if Israel attacks Iran, it will likely create a return strike by Iran against both Israel and US Military targets in the Middle East ? putting pressure on the Obama administration to stand with Israel in defense.
Iran and Nuclear Work
Iran claims all nuclear work is used for civilian energy purposes, and insists the country has the right to enrich the uranium for either powering civilian nuclear reactors or building bombs under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.? There are suspicions that Iran would use the enriched uranium to create nuclear weapons ? making them an undeniable threat to Israel and the rest of the world.
United States Economic Sanctions on Iran
The Obama administration has been increasing the severity of economic sanctions on Iran over time, in an effort to negotiate.? On Monday, Congress created a new package of sanctions with expanded financial penalties that target Tehran?s energy and shipping industries.? Iran responded by calling the sanctions ?economic warfare?.??? Some people feel that creating tough economic sanctions end up harming ordinary Iranians who have nothing to do with the political decisions that the sanctions are designed to target.? The latest sanctions were openly criticized by the National Iranian American Council, designed to improve the relationship between Iran and America.? The council?s policy director indicated that the latest sanctions seek to destroy the economy in Iran, and causes ordinary citizens to suffer from a lack of food and medicine while the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps receive an increasing share of the economic power and are not affected by the lack of food or medicine.
The US and Israel
When Panetta arrived at the Israeli defense headquarters, Israeli Defense Minister Barak talked about how the relationship between the US and Israeli has never been stronger than they are at this time.? Panetta indicated the two nations are partners and friends, and by working together it is not only an indication of that friendship but of an alliance to work together in the preservation of future peace.
Despite this stronger alliance, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel?s political leadership will make the final decision regarding the necessity of attack on Iran.? Netanyahu sees an ayatollah regime with intent to destroy Israel through the creation and use of nuclear weapons.? He told reporters that it is unlikely sanctions of any kind will stop Iran?s nuclear ambitions, and feels that the Iranians are simply stalling for more time to continue enriching the uranium they need for the nuclear weapon. ?While the United States continues to negotiate with Iran, Iranians are moving forward with the nuclear weapon. ?Netanyahu said, “with matters that have to do with our destiny, with our very existence, we do not put our faith in the hands of others, even our best of friends.?? He also said both President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have said Israel has a right to defend itself.
Israeli Air Defense System
During the trip to Israel, Panetta inspected and received a briefing on ?Iron Dome?, the Israeli Air Defense System, created from the $200 million military aid the US provided.? This system can shoot down short-range artillery shells and rockets that have previously been fired into Israel from Islamic militants based in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon. President Obama provided additional military aid to Israel in the amount of $70 million to help expand production of the Iron Dome air defense system.? The Iron Dome has successfully shot down 80% of rockets fired at Israel in recent months, but would not be an effective method against longer-range missiles fired from Iran.
Israel Defense Forces are not considered as effective as the US for a successful take down of Iran.? The US Military has tankers to refuel warplanes in the air; Israel does not.? US bunker-busting bombs are considered more effective than Israel?s bombs for taking out a deeply buried target.