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Panetta Attempts to Reassure and Restrain Israel on the Iran Nuclear Issue

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Unread 08.03.12, 12:17 PM
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Panetta Attempts to Reassure and Restrain Israel on the Iran Nuclear Issue

On 08.03.12 06:00 AM posted by James Phillips

After more than three years of downplaying the military option, the Obama Administration has shifted gears and become more hawkish on theIrannuclear issue in recent weeks.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, in Israelon a Middle East tour, on Wednesday called for international leaders to keep “maximum pressure” on Iranand warned that theUnited States “will not allowIran to develop a nuclear weapon, period.”

The Administration’s tougher rhetoric is in part a reflection of the fact that Iranhas shrugged off international sanctions, refused to negotiate anacceptable resolution of the nuclear impasse, and continues to stockpile enriched uranium at anaccelerating rate.

Domestic politics may also be a factor. Panetta’s visit to Israelcame shortly after Governor Mitt Romney’s visit. The Romney campaign has criticized the Obama Administration for “leading from behind” onIran.

Although the Administration has been quick to take credit for stronger sanctions on Iran, much of the impetus for sanctions has come from Congress, which has passed sanctions legislation by huge bipartisan majorities, sometimes over the objections of the Administration.

The Administration’s sharper rhetoric is also aimed at reassuring Israelthat it can depend on the U.S.to prevent Iranfrom attaining a nuclear weapon and therefore should hold off on launching a unilateral strike. The New York Times reported that the Administration is concerned that Israel may soon launch a preventive strike againstIran’s nuclear program.

The Obama Administration has been criticized for appearing to be more concerned with restrainingIsrael than with restrainingIran’s nuclear program.

Panetta’s tougher rhetoric is undoubtedly a welcome change in Israel. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that time is running out for international efforts to endIran’s nuclear defiance through diplomacy. Netanyahu said, “Things that affect our fate, our very existence, we don’t entrust to others—not even to our best friends.”

See: If Israel attacks

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