US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has reiterated that the United States "is prepared to exercise all options" to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons.
Panetta said this at a press conference after a wreath-laying ceremony at the North Africa American Military Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia, on Monday.
Panetta would not go into specifics about the options, but he did say the U.S. government believes the United Nations-imposed sanctions on Iran still have time to work.
"The international community has been strongly unified in imposing some strong sanctions on Iran," he told reporters. "The international community will increase the impact of those sanctions in the next couple of months," he added.
The sanctions are having a serious impact on Iran's economy, according to the Pentagon chief. While the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the Iranians have expressed a willingness to negotiate, Panetta said.
"What we all need to do is continue the pressure on Iran economically and diplomatically," Panetta said. He called upon the international community to convince Iran's leaders to take the right steps and negotiate, to stop developing nuclear weapons and to rejoin the community of nations.
Panetta is on a five day trip to the region stopping in Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan to meet with his defense counterparts.
by RTT Staff Writer
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