September 27th, 2009
09:18 AM ET
13 years ago

Gates lays out non-military options to deal with Iran

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iran’s secret underground nuclear facility revealed this week is illegal and likely intended for military purposes.

“I think that certainly the intelligence people have no doubt that … this is an illicit nuclear facility, if only … because the Iranians kept it a secret,” Gates said in an interview broadcast on CNN’s State of the Union.

“If they wanted it for peaceful nuclear purposes, there's no reason to put it so deep underground, no reason to be deceptive about it, keep it a … secret for a protracted period of time,” Gates said.

Gates refused to rule out a military strike by the United States and its allies, but called for diplomatic efforts including sanctions first.

“The reality is, there is no military option that does anything more than buy time,” Gates said. “The estimates are one to three years or so. And the only way you end up not having a nuclear-capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons, as opposed to strengthened.

“And so I think, as I say, while you don't take options off the table, I think there's still room left for diplomacy.”

Gate said “a variety of options” remained available, including sanctions on banking and equipment and technology for Iran’s oil and gas industry.

The Pentagon chief acknowledged that "China's participation is clearly important" in an effort to impose economic sanctions on Iran for flouting international rules for the development of nuclear enrichment facilities.

Gates also said that October 1 talks between Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China offered the group of six world powers the opportunity for some potential "leverage" over the Iranians.

"I think we are all sensitive to the possibility of the Iranians trying to run the clock out on us. And - and so nobody thinks of this as an open-ended process,” Gates said.

The United States continues to work with Israel about the situation in Iran, Gates achnowledged.

"Well, Israel obviously thinks of the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat to Israel,” he said. “We've obviously been in close touch with them, as our ally and friend, and - and continue to urge them to let this diplomatic and economic sanctions path play out."

Filed under: Iran • Robert Gates • State of the Union
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Chris

    As usual, the liberals will try to 'talk' their way out of this mess. The Iranians will continue to 'talk' their way into more time until -- they have a weapon of mass destruction. Then you will really hear them talk! Only when we're in pass 'imminent danger' and they put a bomb on one of our major cities will our 'leaders' see that the Iranians mean to wipe us out. Now Obama can laugh at this type of analysis and continue to talk 'peace' as it's stamped into his brain, but maybe if enough of us common sense folks keep bringing this concern to his attention he'll start to think about it a little more seriously than he does now.

    September 27, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Donkey Party

    Thank you Mr. Gates for your sensibility. Had the GOPPERS been in power, they would've opened another war front, making our tired troops in Iraq and Afghanistan easy targets for the Iranians. Besides Egypt and Israel, they are the most sophisticated and well equipped military in the Middle East. It would take a non-conventional (nuclear) strike to bring Iran to submission, unless world diplomacy (China and Russia) weighs in as it is doing now.

    September 27, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. Freedom

    Obama does like to talk giving Iran more time to reach thier goal. It seems to me this kind of senerio happened before. A world leader who was always intrested in talking before action. A world leader who kissed up ,and always said he was sorry about his country. These talks happened long ago with Chamberlin and Hitler.

    September 27, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. clayton

    In case Chris didnt realize Gates is a hold over from Bushes cabinet....he is NOT so crazy liberal.

    September 27, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |

    Laughable the Right wingers are, they prasied Gates when he was in the Bush administration now their bashing him because of President Obama just goes to show you how looney Right wingers have become because we have a black man as President.

    September 27, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. Hugo

    This UN sanction BS has worked so well for the US in the past.....
    Hey, how did they build up a nuclear program inches away from obtaining a bomb with delivery systems while under UN sanctions in the first place? Lions go to war, lambs go to slaughter, O baa baa bama!

    Bomb the crap out of their facilities and get some payback for the Carter era kidnapping of our diplomats! How soon America forgets!

    September 27, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  7. Mic

    Why do you think that all of this is against a black man as president. My wife is black ,and we attend all kinds of protest with the tea people. And we don't have a racist bone in our body. You need to quite spouting the left wing view of racisim. And I do think gates is a good man, but he is working for a man who has a different imiage of the United States. I would attend to agree with @Freedom that obama tends to talk more then anything. If Obama is more like a Chamberlin from the past then I'm worried about the future of our country.

    September 27, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. 2010 is going be wonderful

    You gutles liberals are funny, all that has posted here are praising Gates and as a Conservative I am also.

    The amount of gutless coward liberals in the military you can count on one hand and that is reflected by the amount of overseas votes that the liberals try to suppress every election cycle (especially Gore 2000).

    I have no beef with Gates here, but since Obama blew it in March with his new ideas, lets do plan B, but don't wait forever and DON'T go strictly by the polls Obambi, DO THE RIGHT THING FOR MY FELLOW VETERANS and the HEROES who unlike you volunteered to serve.

    September 27, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. 2010 is going be wonderful

    By the way, IF the decision is made to SEND MORE TROOPS, you coward lefties will all by HAMMERING Gates "that bleeping Bush lackey" and "all the Generals want to do is cause wars", blah, blah, blah.

    September 27, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. Ken

    All I know is i'm in Iraq right now for the second time, wondering to myselfe...When Do I get to come home, and meet my first born son which the government has denied me the oppertunity to do?

    September 27, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |

    First off its Image learn to spell. Second what different Image what he wants people to have affordiable Healthcare? He wants Peace with other countries and is not a War Monger? He wants America to prosper into the Future? He wants to save the Enviorment? He wants our children to get a good education oh yes teabagger how unamerican of him! Learn to spell before you spew your right wing HATE!

    September 27, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |


    So you want him to possible get them killed for having no clear Stragety? For not analzying the situation? Just do what Bush did send them in and not care if their going to be killed For the right reasons?

    September 27, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Sam


    Why so hateful to people. Even thought I don't go to any protest I can see how these people feel. Obama does look at our country in a different way. Obama to me doesn't care about jobs that are sent to India, and China. I think I will attend a tea party . And angie just for your information i'm a afro american. And I'm sure if I missed sppelled anything hateful person like yourself will point it out.

    September 27, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. Freedom

    Why are you being this way. Maybe mic misstyped what he was spelling. It seems to me your being hateful. Image a world where the United States is socialist. Where what you earn you don't keep. Where Obama has destroyed the Amecian Dollor so much it's not even used. Where your told you have to buy this car because is good for the enviroment. There a president like Obama breaks the 10th Amendement to the constitution every day. Where I have to pay the medical bills of a guy who sits on the sofa and smokes 2 packs a day. Oh what a wonderful world that would be.

    September 27, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. victim of republican greed

    I am tired of brainless right wingnuts calling liberals 'gutless.'

    September 27, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |


    Obama has destroyed the American dollar? Have you been a sleep the last 8 years no one forces you to buy a car that is your choice. and as far as paying for the smoker what about the Uninsured you pay for when they go to the Hospital and dont pay the bill? you pay for that.So get off the Socialist kick its getting old and played out.

    September 27, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. victim of republican greed


    Take a deep breath. The things you post are snippets of the Fox entertainment propaganda. You need to get information from sources other than the home of McCarthyism.

    September 27, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. victim of republican greed

    Angie is right on!

    September 27, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. Liberty Bell

    I guess Anige is part of the MSNBC she seems to live with her eyes close. As the United States sends intrest payments to china which we can't afford. Obama keeps spending money. ON WHAT I STILL DON'T HAVE A JOB. My job was sent to china. Obama stated that we only send low paying jobs to other countries. At the time he said that IBM layedoff 500 workers with an average salary of $70,000. Obama just needs to care more about jobs then how many times he gets on camera.

    September 27, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. Hannah

    It must be noted here that Iran was not making nukes before bush got into office, nor was North Korea sending up missiles and then along came the cheney/bush regime, the go it alone, everybody is out to get us, axis of evil, shoot firs ask questions later administration. So that is why we are here today having this conversation. President Obama is cleaning up another mess left behind by bush. He is intelligent, careful and will do the job right for everyone. I am so thankful that he is our president. I worried every day with bush squatting in the WH.

    September 27, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their foolishness.

    There's not one plan the Iranians understand and that's the plan to destroy America and it's allies. A non-military action such as sanctions will be no better than swatting at flies with them. You think they care about sanctions. There are too many Islam nations to support their needs. America is wasting time. It is time for them to Nuke the villages of Pakistan in the upper region by Afghanistan that are supporting the terriost. Then in turn instead of sanctions nuke the areas of Iran that our CIA say their plants are. The time for all this cowardly talking is over it is time for action before anymore of our brave soldiers have to die. Do it now or reap the casulities you will reap when theses Arab countries are ready to strike. All you baby boomers that cost us Vietnam by evading the draft and crying in the streets while our brave soldiers fought like the same type did in Somalia, Iraq and Afganistan have done. You need to leave this country. And the U.S. needs to stop all the illegals from coming in here who will not fight for freedom.

    September 27, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. Sandra

    Non-Military Options –

    Finally Good Sense has prevailed over Mr. Gates.

    Diplomacy always comes first, Before Military Options.

    Now this guys is acting Sensibly.

    September 27, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Before boasting about how the Iranians "hid" this facility, first research when are the Iranians required, by the treaty, to declare the facility?

    Did the Iranians declare the facility in accordance with the treaty? The answer is yes and therefore any claims of illegality are just a continuation of the hubris of the United States.

    We get it, Mr. Gates. You don't like Iran. But that does not give you the right to misrepresent the facts to the public.

    September 27, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |