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On Iran, Gates said the world must keep political and economic pressure on the country to keep it from developing a nuclear weapons program. "The only long-term solution in avoiding an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is for the Iranians to decide it's not in their interest," he said. "Everything else is a short-term solution, is a two-to-three year solution."
The secretary said he believes the current sanctions have been much harder on Iran than its leaders anticipated, and that they are "having an impact."
Gates said he does not believe a "military solution" is the right way to deal with Iran. "If it's a military solution, as far as I'm concerned, it will bring together a divided nation," he said. "It will only make them absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons and they will just go deeper and more covert. So I think the political-economic strategy is the one that we have to continue to pursue and ratchet up and create an exit for them."
If Iran builds confidence with the United Nations "then there is a way out of the box they've gotten themselves in," he said.
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