A military strike against Iran would unite the divided country and ensure Tehran's unwavering commitment to pursuing nuclear weapons, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday.
Gates, in comments to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, said it was important to use other means to convince Tehran against pursuing nuclear weapons and renewed concerns that military action would only delay -- not prevent -- it from obtaining such capabilities.
He told the council that military action would offer only a "short-term solution" to the thorny issue of Iran's nuclear program.
According to the US defense secretary, sanctions against Iran may be causing a rift between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"We even have some evidence that Khamenei, now, (is) beginning to wonder if Ahmadinejad is lying to him about the impact of the sanctions on the economy. And whether he's getting the straight scoop in terms of how much trouble the economy really is in," Gates said, renewing his position that sanctions were having an impact.
Western nations have accused Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, something Iran vehemently denies.
It has refused global calls to rein in its suspect nuclear enrichment program and has been slapped with a series of UN and international sanctions.
Meanwhile, Iran kicked off a five-day nationwide military drill on Tuesday to examine its air defense system, according to reports.
Dubbed "Defenders of the Sky 3," the exercise simulates an attack on Iran's borders and nuclear facilities. The drill is reportedly said to test Iran's skill against Israel and the United States in the event that one or both of them decides to launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
AFP contributed to the report
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook