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Donna Miles - American Forces Press Service
LIMA, Peru, April 14, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed confidence today in progress being made toward passing a U.N. Security Council resolution that would ratchet up sanctions against Iran for refusing to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Such a resolution could go a long way not only in isolating Iran, but also in providing a new legal platform for some countries to impose even more stringent sanctions against it, Gates said in response to a reporter's question during a news conference with Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Rey.
Gates said he left for Latin America before he could get details about President Barack Obama's exchange with Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier this week in conjunction with the Nuclear Security Summit. While acknowledging that he doesn't know exactly where China stands at this point, Gates said, "all indications are that they were moving in the direction of being willing to support a resolution."
China is a member of the U.N. Security Council, so all resolutions require its approval.
Gates said the exact content of a resolution is less important than the fact that it would further isolate Iran from the rest of the world. It also could also serve as a "launching pad for more specific sanctions by individual countries and cooperating nations" such as the European Union, he said.
Speaking to reporters yesterday during his flight to Lima, Gates said he doesn't believe reports that Tehran could acquire a nuclear weapon within a matter of months. He said a more realistic timeframe, based on most intelligence estimates he's seen, is "at least a year," and possibly longer.