Gates: Iran strike wouldn't stop nuclear program

"We have evidence that Khamenei, now, [is] beginning to wonder if Ahmadinejad is lying to him," says US defense secretary.

November 16, 2010 17:49
1 minute read.
Robert Gates

Gates points 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday suggested that sanctions against Iran may be creating internal rifts in the country's top leadership, Reuters reported.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, Gates revealed: "We even have some evidence that [Iranian supreme leader Ali] Khamenei, now, [is] beginning to wonder if [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is lying to him about the impact of the sanctions on the economy. And whether he's getting the straight scoop in terms of how much trouble the economy really is in," according to the report.

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Additionally, Gates told the Journal that a military strike would not succeed at halting Iran's nuclear program. He said it would only result in it becoming more secretive than it already is, and strengthen the country's unity.

Earlier this month, Gates said that although military action against Iran remains an option, the threat of force is not the only way to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

His comments came in response to Israeli assertions that Iran would put a stop to its nuclear ambitions only if it feared military action would be taken against it.  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been turning up pressure on the Obama administration to take a tougher line.

According to diplomatic officials, Netanyahu told US Vice President Joe Biden on a trip to New Orleans that "the only way to ensure that Iran is not armed with nuclear weapons is to create a credible threat of military action against it, unless it stops its race to obtain nuclear weapons.”

Gates, who was on a visit to Australia at the time, rejected the notion that Iran will only listen if it thinks it's about to be attacked.

He added that the latest international sanctions are hitting Iran harder than that country's ruling regime had expected, and should be allowed more time.

Tovah Lazaroff and Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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