Gates: Iran Attack Would Create Backlash

Pre-Emptive Strike Would Be "Disastrous"

by Jason Ditz, April 13, 2009

During a meeting today at Marine Corps University, Defense Secretary Robert Gates cautioned against a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, saying they would create a “disastrous backlash” and reiterating his support for most sanctions against the central Asian nation.

“If we or the Israelis or somebody else strike Natanz militarily, in my view, it would delay the Iranian program for some period of time, but only delay it, probably only one to three years,” Gates warned, adding it would also “unify the nation, you would cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them.”

The Iranian government has been working on a nuclear energy program for over a decade, and the Bushehr nuclear power plant will reportedly come on line in mid-Summer. The plant requires uranium enriched to low levels, which is done at the Natanz enrichment facility. Though the IAEA has repeatedly certified that none of the enriched uranium has been diverted to any other purpose than power generation, both the United States and Israel have repeatedly threatened to attack Iran unless it abandons the program.

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