Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that US-led
sanctions and diplomatic efforts have had no impact on the Iranian
nuclear program, and warned that time is running out to peacefully
resolve the issue.
Speaking at a press conference with
visiting US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Netanyahu said: "You
recently said that sanctions on Iran are having a big impact on the
Iranian economy. And that is correct. And I am sure that the recent
sanctions advanced by the president and the congress will have an even
greater impact on the Iranian economy. But unfortunately, it's also true
that neither sanctions nor diplomacy have yet have any impact on Iran's
nuclear weapons program."
Netanyahu also said that time was
running out to peacefully resolve the conflict with Iran over its
nuclear program, and that Iran believed that the international community
was not actually serious or committed in trying to stop it from
obtaining nuclear weapons.
He added that with time running out
on a peaceful solution, and that the world must convince Iran very soon
that it is serious and that Iran will face unacceptable consequences if
it keeps building its nuclear weapons program.
In response to
the prime minister's remarks, Panetta stated unequivocally: "We will not
allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Period. We will not allow them
to develop a nuclear weapon."
Panetta added that the US has a "rock-solid commitment: to the security of Israel and its citizens, calling US-Israel defense cooperation "closer than at any point in history."
Earlier Wednesday, Panetta hinted that the US is prepared to use military force to stop Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
made the remarks during a visit to an Iron Dome counter rocket defense
system outside the city of Ashkelon together with Defense Minister Ehud
"If they continue and if they proceed with a nuclear
weapon... we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure
that that does not happen," Panetta said.
skepticism that sanctions would succeed in stopping Iran - on Tuesday US
President Barack Obama announced two new rounds of sanctions against
Iran's envy and banking sectors - Barak hailed the Israeli-US alliance,
even while admitting that there were disagreements on Iran.
"There are disagreements but this does not affect the profound depth of our ties and we plan to keep it that way," Barak said.
earlier, Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised Panetta for his role in
enhancing security ties between the US and Israel as the two met in Tel
Aviv on Wednesday.
"Ties between Israel an the US in the security
realm are as strong and close as they have ever been, and without a
doubt, a substantial part of the credit belongs to Defense Secretary
Leon Panetta," Barak said.
Calling Panetta "not just a personal
friend for many years, but a friend of Israel," Barak went on to say
that "The US and Israel see reality in much the same way, and there is
much to discuss, as the regional problems are serious and numerous."
of Panetta's arrival in Israel on Tuesday night, Israeli officials said
they expected him to press Israel to give more time for sanctions
before launching a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
at a press conference in Cairo shortly before departing for Israel,
Panetta said he would be talking about “various contingencies,” but said
specific military plans would not be put forward.
“I think it is
the wrong characterization to say we are going to be discussing
potential attack plans,” he said. “What we are discussing are various
contingencies and how we would respond.”
Asked whether these
included military options, he said: “We obviously continue to work on a
number of options in that area, but the discussions that I hope to have
with Israel are going to be more about what is the threat that we’re
confronting and to try to share both information and intelligence on
The US has said it is determined to prevent Iran from
getting the bomb, but has called on Israel to give more time for
increasingly severe economic sanctions to work.
“Both of our
countries are committed to ensuring that Iran does not develop a nuclear
weapon and to that extent we continue to work together in the effort to
ensure that Iran does not reach that point of developing a nuclear
weapon,” Panetta said.
Yaakov Katz and Reuters contributed to this report.