Security Cooperation Never Stronger
May 17, 2012
In talks today at the Pentagon,
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and his Israeli counterpart discussed
Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.
The level of security cooperation between the United States and Israel
has never been stronger, Panetta said in a statement after the meeting.
One important example of that cooperation is U.S. support for Israel's
Iron Dome, he added.
Iron Dome is a mobile air defense system that Israel began using last
year to protect its civilian population against short-range rockets and
artillery shells -- those fired from a distance of up to about 40 miles.
Panetta said that in line with President Barack Obama’s guidance, he
informed Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak the United States will
provide the $70 million Israel requested for Iron Dome for fiscal 2012.
“This is assistance that, provided Congress concurs, we can [provide]
quickly, to ensure [there is] no shortage in this important system,” he
Panetta said the announcement of U.S. assistance for Iron Dome is “an
important step and a reflection of the extraordinarily close defense
relationship between our countries.”
“My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to
produce these batteries that can protect its citizens,” the secretary
2015, defense officials will request funds for the system based on
yearly assessments of Israeli security requirements against an evolving
threat, Panetta said. The United States already has provided $205
million in assistance for that system, he noted, and operational
batteries have proven effective in defending against rocket attacks on
Israel earlier this year.
“Iron Dome has already saved the lives of Israeli citizens, and it can
help prevent escalation in the future,” the secretary said. Ongoing
support for the defense system reflects the United States’ “rock-solid
commitment to Israel's security,” and comes on top of about $3 billion
in other annual security assistance for Israel, he said.
Panetta said he and Barak also continued their regular dialogue
involving topics of common interest to the two nations and their
militaries. “I thank my good friend Minister Barak for his continued
friendship and cooperation,” the secretary said.