US rejects Israel's call to attack Iran
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to ask the US to threaten Iran with a military operation to stop its civilian nuclear program, Washington rejects Tel Aviv's call.
"I would disagree that only a credible military threat (would convince) Iran to take the actions it needs to end its nuclear weapons program," US Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters on Monday.
According to Gates, non-military action and sanctions against the Islamic Republic are enough to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program.
"We are prepared to do what is necessary. But at this point we continue to believe that the political, economic approach that we are taking is in fact having an impact in Iran," he added.
However, the US defense secretary went on to say that all options remained on the table.
"The president has said repeatedly that when it comes to Iran that all options are on the table and we are doing what we need to do to ensure that he has those options," Gates stated.
He added that the UN Security Council sanctions against Iran were "bringing pressure to bear on the Iran government and getting attention."
"We know that they are concerned about the impact of the sanctions. The sanctions are biting more deeply than they anticipated," he said.
Gates made the remarks a day after the Israeli premier told US Vice President Joe Biden on Melbourne on Sunday that only a credible threat of military action will halt Iran's nuclear plans.
"The only way to make sure that Iran does not arm itself with nuclear weapons is to create a credible threat of a military operation against it if it does not cease the race for nuclear armament," the office of Netanyahu said on Sunday.
The statement comes while Iran has repeatedly said it does not possess nor does is seek to acquire nuclear weapons.
The United States and Israel have repeatedly threatened Tehran with the "option" of a military strike, based on the allegation that Iran's nuclear work may consist of a covert military agenda.
Iran says its nuclear program is completely peaceful and within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory.
Iranian officials have warned that any act of aggression by the US and Israel against Iran's nuclear facilities would be firmly responded to and could result in a war that would spread beyond the Middle East.