Diplomacy still the preferred option with Iran: Panetta



Washington: Asserting that the United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said the "diplomacy" is still the preferred option for the Obama Administration in this regard.

"I continue to believe that there is time and space for an effort to try to achieve a diplomatic solution, which remains, I believe, the preferred outcome for both the United States and for Israel," Panetta told Pentagon reporters at a joint news conference with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak yesterday.

Iran, he said, is a shared challenge to the long-term security of both the countries.

"Ehud and I discussed our continuing concerns over Iran's destabilising activities and its nuclear program," he said.

"As the (US) President clearly stated, we will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and that remains our policy. Iran is facing unprecedented pressure from the sanctions, crippling sanctions that have been imposed by the international community," Panetta said.

Responding to questions, Barak said that "physical option" should not be removed from the table when it comes to Iran.

"In regard to Iran, the kind of physical attack option is an option. It should be there. It should remain on the table, never be removed," he said.

The Israeli Defence minister said that the sanctions are working, and they're more hurting than anything in the past vis-a-vis Iran.

"But I don't believe that these kind of sanctions will bring the ayatollahs into a moment of truth where they sit around the table, look at each other's eyes and decide that the game is over, they cannot stand it anymore, they're going to give up their nuclear intention. I don't see it happening," he said.

Barak claimed that in the coming years, Iran would be coerced to end its nuclear ambitions.

PTI