Ex-SecDef Gates: Strike on Iran could be ‘catastrophic’

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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates strongly cautioned Wednesday against a military strike on Iran.

“The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world,” Gates told an audience of 2,000 in Norfolk, Virginia Wednesday, the Virginia-Pilot reported.

US-led international sanctions are impacting Iran’s economy, he said–as evinced by protests in Tehran Wednesday spurred in part by panic over the sharp drop in the value of Iran’s currency, the rial.

“That’s our best chance going forward: to ratchet up the economic pressure and diplomatic isolation to the point where the Iranian leadership concludes that it actually hurts Iranian security and, above all, the security of the regime itself, to continue to pursue nuclear weapons,” Gates said, according to the Pilot report.

Washington should also let Israeli leaders know “they do not have a blank check to take action that could do grave harm to American vital interests.”

Gates stepped down as Pentagon chief in 2010 after a five decade government career that included serving as CIA director and deputy national security advisor as well as Defense Secretary to both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. Now chancellor of Virginia’s William and Mary University, Gates was speaking Wednesday as part of the Norfolk Speakers series.

(Photo: Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks after being awarded the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer.)

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