July 30, 2012
By Jim Garamone
CARTHAGE, Tunisia (American Forces Press Service) – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta reiterated here today that the United States “is prepared to exercise all options” to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons.
Panetta spoke during a news conference at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial.
Panetta would not go into specifics about the options, but he did say the U.S. government believes the United Nations-imposed sanctions on Iran still have time to work.
“The international community has been strongly unified in imposing some strong sanctions on Iran,” he said. “The international community will increase the impact of those sanctions in the next couple of months.”
The sanctions are having a serious impact on Iran’s economy. While the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, Panetta said, the Iranians have expressed a willingness to negotiate.
“What we all need to do is continue the pressure on Iran economically and diplomatically,” Panetta said. The international community must convince Iran’s leaders to take the right steps and negotiate, to stop developing nuclear weapons and to rejoin the community of nations, he added.
“We believe the best course of action is to continue that pressure and to continue that unity to convince them to do what’s right,” he said.