WASHINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€œ US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday refused to address the notion of having to contain a nuclear armed Iran, saying US efforts were aimed at preventing it from acquiring atomic weapons.
“I don’t think we’re prepared to even talk about containing a nuclear Iran. I think… our view still is we do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons,” he said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.
“And our policies and our efforts are all aimed at preventing that from happening,” he said.
Asked whether a military strike against Iran was preferable to it acquiring nuclear weapons, Gates said all options remained on the table but added: “I think we have some time to continue working this problem.”
Stepped up economic and diplomatic pressure had “a reasonable chance of getting the Iranian regime finally to come to their senses and realize their security is probably more endangered by going forward,” he said.
Gates observed that over the past 18 months support for the regime in Tehran has narrowed, as it has turned toward a military dictatorship in the wake of a disputed presidential election.
“So I think adding economic pressures on top of that, and particularly targeted economic pressures, has real potential,” he said.
The UN Security Council slapped a fourth set of sanctions June 10 in an effort to rein in its nuclear program, which the United States and other countries believe is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes only.