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Panetta: Iran sanctions have not yet stopped nuclear program

JTA

July 31, 2012 | 8:58 am

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta participates in a meeting with Tunisian Minister of Defense Abdelkarim Zbidi in Tunis, Tunisia on July 30. Photo by REUTERS/Mark Wilson/Pool

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta participates in a meeting with Tunisian Minister of Defense Abdelkarim Zbidi in Tunis, Tunisia on July 30. Photo by REUTERS/Mark Wilson/Pool

Two days before his visit to Israel, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that though tough international sanctions have not yet caused Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions, they would eventually persuade the regime to “do what’s right.”

Speaking in Tunisia on Monday, Panetta said that the sanctions have caused significant damage to Iran’s economy, according to the Associated Press.

“These sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy in Iran,” he told reporters, according to the AP. “And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to negotiate and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution.”

As Iran’s alleged quest for a nuclear weapon continues, Israel’s leadership has raised the possibility of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, a move that the Obama Administration has argued is premature at this point. The Obama administration has, however, repeatedly declared that “all options” are on the table.

Panetta will meet with Israeli leaders on Wednesday.

Also on Monday, members of the Senate and House of Representatives agreed on a sanctions bill aimed at further reducing Iranian oil revenues.

How to deal with Iran’s nuclear program has been a central foreign policy issue of the U.S. presidential campaign.

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