Panetta warns Iran U.S. military 'prepared' to prevent nukes

ASHKELON, Israel — In some of his most hawkish language to date, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Iran not to seek nuclear weapons and indicated that the U.S. was prepared to use a military attack to stop Tehran.

"They have a choice to make," Panetta said. "If they make the decision to proceed with a nuclear weapon ... we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure that that does not happen."

Panetta repeatedly referenced U.S. "options" for Iran, including military ones, during a press conference in the middle of a plowed field about five miles from Gaza. He insisted economic sanctions, like the additional ones President Obama authorized on Monday, were pressuring Iran, but showed a tougher sounding tone than the more patient remarks that have preceded his Israel visit.

Behind the secretary and Israeli Defense Minister Barak stood an Iron Dome missile defense battery, which five weeks ago shot down rockets launched from within Gaza into Israel. President Obama on Monday released $70 million in additional funds for the system, a move Panetta claimed demonstrates the U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger than ever.

Countering Mitt Romney's recent assertions here that the U.S. Is not doing enough -- including militarily -- to support Israel or pressure Iran, Barak said the "special relationship" with the U.S. military was stronger than its ever been.

"This is the strongest alliance that we have," Panetta added, before leaving for additional meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Passport

Michael Phelps now has more medals than 148 countries

Shortly after Michael's Phelps supposedly "disastrous" defeat in the 200m butterfly to South Africa's Chad le Clos today, he collected his 15th gold in 800-meter freestyle, giving him a record 19 total career medals.

Phelps has now not only performed every other athlete in the history of the games, but many entire countries.  Of the 205 countries that participate in the Olympics, 148 have fewer than 19 medals. Not too shabby.

Full list below the jump:

Afghanistan: 1

Albania : 0

Armenia: 10

Algeria: 14

American Samoa: 0

Andorra: 0

Angola: 0

Antigua & Barbuda: 0

Aruba: 0

Azerbaijan: 17

Bahamas: 10

Bahrain: 1

Bangladesh: 0

Barbados: 0

Belize: 0

Benin: 0

Bermuda: 1

Bhutan: 0

Bolivia: 0

Bosnia-Herzegovina:0

Botswana: 0

Brunei: 0

Burkina Faso: 1

Burundi: 1

Cambodia: 0

Cameron: 5

Cape Verde: 0

Cayman Islands: 0

Central African Rep: 0

Chad: 0

Chile: 13

Colombia: 10

Comoros: 0

Congo: 0

Congo DR: 0

Cook Islands: 0

Costa Rica:4

Croatia: 17

Cyprus: 0

Djibouti: 1

Dominica: 0

Dominican Republic: 4

Ecuador: 2

El Salvador: 0

Equatorial Guinea: 0

Eritrea: 1

Fed. States of Micronesia: 0

Fiji: 0

Gabon: 0

Gambia: 0

Georgia: 18

Ghana: 4

Grenada: 0

Guam: 0

Guatemala: 0

Guinea: 0

Guinea-Bissau: 0

Guyana: 1

Haiti: 2

Honduras: 0

Hong Kong 2

Iceland: 3

Iraq: 1

Israel: 7

Jordan: 0

Kiribati: 0

Kuwait: 1

Kyrgyzstan: 3

Laos: 0

Latvia: 17

Lebanon: 4

Lesotho: 0

Liberia: 0

Libya: 0

Lichtenstein: 0

Lithuania: 16

Luxembourg: 5

Macedonia: 1

Madagascar: 0

Malawi: 0

Malaysia: 4

Maldives: 0

Mali:0

Malta: 0

Mauritania: 0

Mauritius: 1

Moldova: 5

Monaco: 1

Mozambique: 2

Myanmar: 0

Namibia: 4

Nauru: 0

Nepal: 0

Nicaragua: 0

Niger: 1

Oman: 0

Pakistan: 10

Palau: 0

Palestine: 0

Panama: 3

Papua New Guinea: 0

Paraguay: 1

Peru: 4

Philippines:9

Puerto Rico: 6

Qatar: 2

Rwanda: 0

Samoa: 0

San Marino:0

Sao Tome & Principe: 0

Saudi Arabia: 2

Senegal: 1

Serbia: 3

Seychelles: 0

Sierra Leone: 0

Singapore: 2

Slovenia: 15

Solomon Islands: 0

Somalia: 0

Sri Lanka: 2

St. Kitts-Nevis: 0

St. Lucia: 0

St. Vincent: 0

Sudan: 1

Suriname: 2

Swaziland: 0

Syria: 3

Tajikistan: 2

Tanzania: 2

Togo: 1

Tonga: 1

Trinidad & Tobago: 14

Tunisia: 7

Turkmenistan: 0

Tuvalu: 0

Uganda: 6

United Arab Emirates: 1

United Arab Rep.: 0

Uruguay: 10 

Uzbekistan: 17

Vanuatu: 0

Venezuela: 11

Vietnam: 2

Virgin Islands UK: 0

Virgin Islands US: 0

Yemen: 0

Zambia: 2

Zimbabwe: 8

 

 

CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages