Defense Secretary Robert Gates says taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities with a military strike won’t work and recommends tougher sanctions instead.
The military option would simply push Iran’s effort to develop nuclear weapons into secrecy, making it more difficult for the U.S. to know what’s going on there, he told the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In the end, a strike would merely postpone Iran’s plan to build nukes, not eliminate it. The best strategy for keeping such weapons out of Iran’s hands is for the U.S. and its allies to convince the country that it’s better off without them, Gates says.
Sanctions can help there, he maintains. And along those lines, Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Senators that the U.S. and its allies should strengthen the sanctions against Iran.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., says the U.S. should tighten loose regulations that allow American companies to do business with Iran.
As for Gates, he says the argument that should be presented to Iran is that its production of nukes would “start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and they will be less secure at the end than they are now.”
The Defense Secretary also says the U.S. and Russia should cooperate in establishing missile defense programs in the Mideast to repel Iran.
Russia has objected to U.S. plans to station anti-missile facilities in Eastern Europe.
The White House recently denied a report that Washington could scrap its demand that Iran cease enriching uranium at the start of talks on its nuclear program.
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