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Gates rejects amping military pressure on Iran

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates pushed back against Israeli demands that the United States amp up the threat of military action against Iran.

"We are prepared to do what is necessary, but at this point we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we are taking is in fact having an impact in Iran," Gates told media on Monday in Australia, where he is on an official visit.

Gates was reacting to reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made the demand of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, whom he met on the sidelines Sunday of the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly taking place this week in New Orleans.

"The only way to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons is by creating a credible threat of military action against it if it does not halt its race to acquire a nuclear bomb," Netanyahu is reported to have told Biden.

The message dovetails with pledges by the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to pressure President Obama to make more clear the possibility of a military strike on Iran if the Islamic Republic gets closer to manufacturing a nuclear device.

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