Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Delivers Remarks at Cemetery and Memorial in Tunisia (Excerpts)

July 30, 2012

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  • Israel

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Q: You said -- you said yesterday that the U.S. is going to tell Israel that it's prepared for contingencies with Iran if something were to happen. Can you be specific about what sort of contingencies you're prepared for to protect Israel?

And the Israeli leadership has been pretty clear that it's skeptical that the sanctions are convincing the Iranians to give up their pursuit of a bomb. How much time do you think is left for sanctions to work? How much time is on the -- is on the -- is on the table now? How much time do you think Israel will wait?

SEC. PANETTA: Well, first of all, the president has made clear and I've made clear that the United States will not tolerate an Iran that develops a nuclear weapon and that we are prepared to exercise all options to ensure that that does not happen. And I am not going to go into specific descriptions about what those options are, except to say that we have a full range of options in order to deal with that potential.

With regards to the sanctions and the impact of these sanctions, the international community has been strongly unified in imposing some very serious sanctions on Iran. And as a matter of fact, the international community will increase the impact of those sanctions within the next few months.

We recognize that these sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy in Iran. And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to try to negotiate with the P-5-plus-1 and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution.

I think what we all need to do is to continue the pressure on Iran, economically and diplomatically, to take the right steps here, to negotiate, and to ultimately do what's right in joining the international family and abiding by international rules and requirements.

And we believe that the best course of action is to continue that pressure and continue that unity in the effort to convince them to do what's right.

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