Hagel Assures Israel US Won’t Let Iran Complete a Nuclear Weapon

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by ABC News No Comments

Junko Kimura/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel knows he has something to prove during his visit to Israel, which opened his first trip to the Middle East since he was named Pentagon chief.

Some fellow Republicans voted against Hagel at his confirmation hearing in March, fearing previous statements made while he was a U.S. senator seemed to discount the threat posed by Iran to Israel’s existence.

In Jerusalem Sunday, Hagel insisted that the Obama administration fully supports Israel’s right to protect its homeland and people “in a very dangerous, combustible region of the world.”

As for U.S. and Israeli disagreements over how far along Iran has come to developing a nuclear weapon, Hagel maintained their governments’ differences were minor.

He told reporters, “I think it’s important that we all keep our eye focused on the objective  And there is no daylight there at all — that Iran is prevented from acquiring that nuclear capacity.”

According to Hagel, tough international sanctions against Tehran have hurt the country significantly, although he acknowledged that should diplomacy and economic penalties fail to deter Iran, the military option, as a last resort, won’t be pulled off the table.

Meanwhile, Hagel is also hoping his trip will generate Capitol Hill support for something Israel is definitely in favor of: a $10 billion arms package from Washington to help maintain its military superiority over its Arab neighbors.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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