Washington: In escalating war of words, US
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has warned Iran that "all
options" are on the table if Tehran blocks the Straits of
Hormuz or if it goes nuclear.
"We've made very clear that Iran will not develop a
nuclear weapon. We will not tolerate an Iran that has a
nuclear weapon," Panetta said.
"We've made clear that we will not tolerate an Iran that
tries to block the Straits of Hormuz. A fifth of the oil of
the world goes through those straits. They're international
waters. We're not going to allow them to block that," he
warned, terming these as red lines.
"If they cross one of those lines, then we have all
options on the table - we, the United States, have all options
on the table. But, as the Prime Minister of Israel himself
said, that ought to be the last option, not the first," the
Defence Secretary said.
The United States, he said, doesn't want an Iran that
basically spreads violence around the world, which supports
terrorism, that conducts acts of violence.
"They planned an attack here against ambassadors of other
countries here in the United States," he said.
"So we're not going to tolerate that, and we've made that
clear. And as a result, the international community has come
together. We have implemented strong diplomatic sanctions, we
have implemented very strong economic sanctions, and we're
continuing to do that - sanctions that are in many ways
crippling Iran, crippling their economy, isolating them from
the rest of the world, and having an impact on Iran," he said.
Panetta said that the basic message to Iran is that it
has to change its behaviour. "If you're a nation that wants to be part of the
international family of nations, then join it. Operate by
international rules. Operate by international laws. Join us in
an effort to try to diplomatically reduce your efforts in
terms of nuclear capability," Panetta said.
"So that pressure needs to continue, and Israel has been
part of that. My hope is that Israel will be part of that
international effort to keep the pressure on. That's the most
effective way to isolate Iran and to keep the pressure on,"
First Published: Saturday, February 18, 2012, 13:40