US officials play down military options vs Iran

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the military option for forcing Iran to halt its nuclear program would be just temporary and ineffective and that sanctions make more sense. Gates told the US Senate appropriators Thursday that a military attack on Iran would merely send that country's nuclear program further underground. Instead, he said that the United States and its allies must convince Teheran that its nuclear ambitions will spark an arms race that will leave the country less secure. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US should work with its allies on tougher international sanctions. Gates also said that the US should pursue partnerships with Russia on missile defense programs in the region to further isolate Iran and to give Teheran economic and diplomatic reasons to voluntarily abandon its nuclear interests.