- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday that the Iranians will face “severe and growing consequences” if they do not meet their international obligations and rejoin the community of nations.

Mr. Panetta did not detail those consequences during his speech before the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but he said the United States does not bluff.

Mr. Panetta told AIPAC attendees that, while the U.S. wants diplomacy to work in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, it is always keeping military action “on the table.”

“We want diplomacy to work. We will back this diplomacy with strong and increasing pressure, and we will keep all options — including military action — on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he said, calling a nuclear-armed Iran the greatest threat to the security of Israel and to the Middle East.

“Let me be clear: We do not have a policy of containment. We have a policy of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” the defense secretary said.

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