NEW YORK – While the US has “implemented unprecedented sanctions and pressure on Iran, we may very well have to use military force to back up our policy,” Leon Panetta said on Thursday night.
The former US defense secretary and CIA director made the remarks while addressing around 600 people at the Anti-Defamation League’s 100th annual meeting.
Panetta, who was receiving the ADL’s William and Naomi Gorowitz Institute Service Award, said the US needs to “maintain a healthy skepticism” when negotiating to suss out Iran’s true level of commitment to negotiations over its nuclear program.
“It is the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] who is key, and he is not likely to give up [uranium] enrichment,” Panetta warned. “We have to remain strong. We have to remain consistent.”
Panetta reiterated the American line that the US has “no friend, no better ally in the world than Israel,” but he expressed concern over the “growing sense of isolationism in this country [the US]” over the last 10 years of fighting two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the shifting power dynamics among world leaders.
“The fact remains that we live in a very dangerous world,” he said. “We continue to have threats from North Korea as they test nuclear weapons. We have instability and fragility in the Middle East. All of this happens at a time when we are imperiled by gridlock in Washington.”