Panetta: U.S. Won't Let Iran Block Oil Route

Did Not Rule Out Preemptive Strike on Nuclear Program

By Forward Staff

Published January 09, 2012.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta vowed that the United States would take action if Iran obtained nuclear weapons or blocked a waterway used to transport oil from the Persian Gulf.

“I think they need to know that — that if they take that step — that they’re going to get stopped,” Panetta said Sunday, referring to the prospect of a nuclear Iran, on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

A preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear program wasn’t out of the question, Panetta said, but right now the U.S. is focused on “putting diplomatic pressure and economic pressure on them to force them to do the right thing.”

Panetta also said Iran’s closing of the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s petroleum travels, is also a “red line” for the U.S. Iran has threatened to shut down the route, amid new U.S. sanctions on its central bank.

The defense secretary appeared alongside of Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that Iran has the ability to close down the strait for a period of time. “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that,” he said.

Dempsey also that he wants Iran to know to believe that the U.S. military could take out its nuclear program.



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