U.S. policy toward
Iran’s nuclear capability “is not about containment, it’s about
prevention,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today, in
reference to what Western nations believe is Tehran’s attempt to enrich
enough uranium to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Panetta and Canadian Defense Minister Peter G. MacKay spoke to the
Pentagon press corps following a meeting during which they discussed
bilateral relations, Western Hemisphere concerns, Afghanistan and the
Middle East with a particular emphasis on Iran.
British Royal Fleet Auxiliary amphibious assault vessel RFA Cardigan Bay
(L3009), left, the mine countermeasures ship USS Sentry (MCM 3), the
British Royal navy destroyer HMS Diamond (D 34), and the mine
countermeasures ship USS Devastator (MCM 6) transit in formation in the
Gulf of Oman. The coalition force is operating in support of
International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) 2012 as part of
Task Force South. IMCMEX 12 includes navies from more than 30 countries
and focuses on promoting regional security through mine countermeasure
operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy
photo by Lt. Cmdr. Micah Murphy/Released)
In their session with reporters, both stressed they want the Iranian
government to respond to diplomacy and international sanctions aimed at
thwarting suspected efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.
Canada has deep concerns about the Iranian nuclear program and recently
closed its embassy in Tehran. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen J. Harper
has called Iran the most dangerous place on Earth, and spoke of the
“clear and present danger” that Iran poses to the world during a speech
to the United Nations.
There were questions at today’s joint news conference about red lines
for Iran regarding its alleged nuclear ambitions. “There have been a
number of red lines placed already, and Iran has edged closer and
stepped over those red lines on a number of occasions now, particularly
when it comes to cooperation around the subject of inspections,” MacKay
On Syria, Panetta said there were indications the Syrian military had
moved some chemical weapons in recent weeks, but that the main bases
with these armaments remain secure.
their meeting, Panetta and MacKay also discussed the need for greater
security collaboration across the Western Hemisphere, particularly for
humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. “We think that’s a real
potential for bringing countries together in a common effort,” Panetta
said. He hopes this will be part of the agenda at the Defense
Ministerial of the Americas beginning next week in Uruguay.
Panetta thanked MacKay for Canada’s steadfast support in Afghanistan
where it has deployed about 500 troops who are training Afghan national
There is progress and there is hope” in Afghanistan, MacKay said.
“This is what we had always anticipated, is the eventual turnover of
security responsibility will allow … Afghanistan and hopefully the
region, to spread that security and spread that hope,” he said.