Gates to Arabs: Beware Iran

US Defense Secretary Gates told Al Jazeera the Arab world should stock up on weapons as a way to pressure Iran to back off its nuclear program.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 2:48 PM

US Defense Secretary Gates
US Defense Secretary Gates
Israel news photo

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Al Jazeera network Monday that the Arab world should built up its “security capabilities” as a signal to Iran to think twice about developing a nuclear weapon.

He said that the Islamic Republic has to understand “that this path they're on is not going to advance Iranian security but in fact could weaken it.” However, he stopped short of saying that war will break out with Iran and stated that the Obama administration still prefers diplomatic and economic measures to persuade Iran to cooperate with international atomic energy inspectors.

The Arab world buys billions of dollars of weapons from the United States and other countries, but the Defense Secretary voiced doubt regarding a claim that American arm sales to the region have reached $100 billion.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who last month said Iran is preparing new proposals for talks with the world’s major powers, continues to maintain that Iran will not negotiate what he called its “undeniable” rights to develop nuclear power.

Diplomatic pressure on Iran is expected to increase after the American Congress ends its summer recess and its members meet to consider tougher sanctions against Iran. However, China and Russia, which have invested heavily in Iran’s nuclear facilities, have indicated they will continue to oppose crippling sanctions if the issue reaches the United Nations Security Council.

Mohamed ElBaradei, outgoing director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated on Monday that the agency has reached an “impasse” with Iran.