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US Defense Secretary Calls for Focused Pressure on Iran

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called on U.S. allies to work together to impose on Iran what he calls "robust, far-reaching and strongly enforced economic sanctions."

In remarks prepared for delivery Monday night, and released earlier by the Pentagon, Secretary Gates says no one should have any "illusions about [Iran's] ...designs for their nuclear program, their willingness to live up to their rhetoric, their intentions for Iraq or their ambitions in the Gulf region."

Gates said "only a united front of nations will be able to exert enough pressure to make Iran abandon its nuclear aspirations." He called for diplomatic and political pressure, as well as the economic sanctions.

He noted that President Bush has said that when it comes to a regime like Iran's, the United States "must also keep all options on the table."

In his prepared remarks, Secretary Gates also warned of the consequences of what he called "American failure" in Iraq, particularly the propaganda value he said it would give jihadists, who would claim they had defeated the United States.

But the secretary expressed some satsifaction that even with the sharp disagreements in Washington over Iraq policy, he believes that key members of both U.S. political parties now realize what he called "the full extent of the challenges we face" and the need to establish stability in Iraq before a full U.S. troop withdrawal.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.