Sunday, April 21, 2013

 

Hagel: Israel, US see 'exactly same' Iran threat


Chuck Hagel pays his first visit to Israel as US defense secretary Sunday.



Hagel in the Middle East: Chuck Hagel

TEL AVIV, Israel — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday that the United States and Israel see "exactly the same" threat from Iran, but differ on when it may reach the point of requiring U.S. or Israeli military action.



Hagel used his first visit to Israel as Pentagon chief to highlight his view that Israel must decide for itself whether and when to pre-emptively attack its neighbor.

"Israel will make the decision that Israel must make to protect itself, to defend itself," Hagel told reporters before arriving here Sunday to begin a weeklong tour of the Middle East.

Hagel acknowledged that although Israel and the United States share a commitment to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, there "may well be some differences" between the two allies on the question of when Iran's leaders might decide to go for a bomb.

 Hagel in the Middle East: Chuck Hagel. IMAGE He said there is "no daylight at all" between Israel and the United States on the central goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

But he added, "When you back down into the specifics of the timing of when and if Iran decides to pursue a nuclear weapon, there may well be some differences."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tends to see more urgency, reflecting in part the fact that certain Iranian technological advances toward a nuclear weapon could put the program beyond the ability of the Israeli military to destroy it with airstrikes. U.S. forces have greater reach.

In an interview on an overnight flight from Washington, Hagel repeatedly emphasized Israel's right of self-defense and stressed that military force — by implication, Israeli or American — remains an option of last resort.

"In dealing with Iran, every option must be on the table," he said.

Hagel, 66, came under intense fire from Republican critics, before his Senate confirmation hearing in February, for some of his past statements on Israel. His critics painted him as insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state.

In choosing to make Israel one of his first overseas stops, Hagel sought to put that controversy behind him — with serious words and a touch of humor. The February confirmation hearing, which Republicans used to hammer him on Israel and other subjects, "was years ago," he deadpanned.

During his two-day visit to Israel, Hagel is expected to put the final touches on a U.S. arms deal that would provide Israel with missiles for its fighter aircraft, plus KC-135 refueling planes that could be used in a long-range strike on a country such as Iran, as well as V-22 Osprey transport planes. He called the proposed sale a "very clear signal" to Iran.

"The bottom line is, Iran is a threat — a real threat," he said, not only for its nuclear ambitions and its stated goal of destroying Israel, but also for its alleged sponsoring of terrorism.

Hagel said U.S. and international economic sanctions are "hurting Iran significantly," but he said they do not guarantee that Iranian leaders will be persuaded to stop what the West sees as their ambition to become a nuclear power. Iran asserts that its nuclear program is designed entirely for nonmilitary purposes.

Hagel suggested he holds hope that Iran's presidential election in June might change the trajectory of its nuclear drive.

He asserted that there is still time for diplomacy and international sanctions to resolve the Iran problem.

"These other tracks do have some time to continue to try to influence the outcome in Iran," he said.


In the interview en route to Tel Aviv, Hagel was asked whether the Obama administration has determined whether the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against opposition rebels. He said intelligences analysts still are assessing the evidence and have not reached a conclusion.

After his talks in Israel, Hagel is scheduled to visit Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Each of those four is an important American ally in the Middle East, and each is worried by Syria's civil war.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are part of a $10 billion proposed U.S. arms sale that includes Israel. The UAE would get about 26 F-16s, and it and Saudi Arabia would get advanced air-launched missiles.

Secretary of State John Kerry is also in the region. He is working to mend the strained relationship between Turkey and Israel, and he announced Sunday that the White House is doubling its nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition to $250 million.

Tags : , , ,

Share

Social

The idea behind the text.
Respect for the truth is almost the basis of all morality.
Nothing can come from nothing.



Follow

Popular Topics

Read

Well, the way they make shows is, they make one show. That show's called a pilot. Then they show that show to the people who make shows, and on the strength of that one show they decide if they're going to make more shows.

Like you, I used to think the world was this great place where everybody lived by the same standards I did, then some kid with a nail showed me I was living in his world, a world where chaos rules not order, a world where righteousness is not rewarded. That's Cesar's world, and if you're not willing to play by his rules, then you're gonna have to pay the price.

You think water moves fast? You should see ice. It moves like it has a mind. Like it knows it killed the world once and got a taste for murder. After the avalanche, it took us a week to climb out. Now, I don't know exactly when we turned on each other, but I know that seven of us survived the slide... and only five made it out. Now we took an oath, that I'm breaking now. We said we'd say it was the snow that killed the other two, but it wasn't. Nature is lethal but it doesn't hold a candle to man.

You see? It's curious. Ted did figure it out - time travel. And when we get back, we gonna tell everyone. How it's possible, how it's done, what the dangers are. But then why fifty years in the future when the spacecraft encounters a black hole does the computer call it an 'unknown entry event'? Why don't they know? If they don't know, that means we never told anyone. And if we never told anyone it means we never made it back. Hence we die down here. Just as a matter of deductive logic.