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Panetta Attempts to Reassure and Restrain Israel on the Iran Nuclear Issue
Posted By James Phillips On August 3, 2012 @ 10:00 am In Featured,Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled
After more than three years of downplaying the military option, the Obama Administration has shifted gears and become more hawkish on the Iran nuclear issue in recent weeks.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, in Israel on a Middle East tour, on Wednesday called for international leaders to keep “maximum pressure” on Iran and warned that  the United States “will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period.”
The Administration’s tougher rhetoric is in part a reflection of the fact that Iran has shrugged off international sanctions, refused to negotiate  an acceptable resolution of the nuclear impasse, and continues to stockpile enriched uranium at an accelerating rate.
Domestic politics may also be a factor. Panetta’s visit to Israel came shortly after Governor Mitt Romney’s visit. The Romney campaign has criticized  the Obama Administration for “leading from behind” on Iran.
Although the Administration has been quick to take credit for stronger sanctions on Iran, much of the impetus for sanctions has come from Congress, which has passed sanctions legislation by huge bipartisan majorities, sometimes over the objections  of the Administration.
The Administration’s sharper rhetoric is also aimed at reassuring Israel that it can depend on the U.S.to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon and therefore should hold off on launching a unilateral strike. The New York Times  reported that the Administration is concerned that Israel may soon launch a preventive strike  against Iran’s nuclear program.
The Obama Administration has been criticized  for appearing to be more concerned with restraining Israel than with restraining Iran’s nuclear program.
Panetta’s tougher rhetoric is undoubtedly a welcome change in Israel. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that  time is running out for international efforts to end Iran’s nuclear defiance through diplomacy. Netanyahu said, “Things that affect our fate, our very existence, we don’t entrust to others—not even to our best friends.”
See: If Israel attacks 
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/08/03/panetta-attempts-to-reassure-and-restrain-israel-on-the-iran-nuclear-issue/
URLs in this post:
 warned that: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/01/world/meast/israel-panetta-visit/index.html
 refused to negotiate: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/05/28/iran-balks-at-the-nuclear-talks/
 has criticized: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/07/31/romney_team_obama_leading_from_behind_on_iran
 over the objections: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/reject-efforts-to-weaken-iran-sanctions
 New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/world/middleeast/in-israel-panetta-warns-iran-on-nuclear-program.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&pagewanted=print
 preventive strike: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/01/an-israeli-preventive-attack-on-iran-nuclear-sites-implications-for-the-us
 criticized: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/02/21/obama-administration-errs-in-pressuring-israel-rather-than-iran/
 warned that: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/01/israeli-pm-iran-nuclear-programme
 If Israel attacks: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/02/us-policy-on-israels-potential-attack-on-iran
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