U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday that Hezbollah has more missiles than most governments in the world, during a joint press conference with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Washington.
"Syria and Iran are providing Hezbollah with so many rockets that they are at a point where they have more missiles than most governments in the world," said Gates.
Barak told reporters that Syria was transferring weapons systems to Hezbollah and that Israel is closely watching the developments, though he assured Israel did not plan to provoke a conflict.
The two also addressed the Iranian nuclear issue, and Barak warned that a nuclear Iran was a threat to the entire world.
"Iran turning nuclear is a threat both to Israel and any conceivable world order. It can change the landscape not only of the Middle East," he said.
Barak said the world cannot afford to wait too long to see if Iran backs down on its nuclear program and that he supports the U.S. focus on tougher economic sanctions against Tehran.
"If the international community waits too long, Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon that would change the landscape, and not just of the Middle East," Barak said.
He added, however, that only time will tell to what extent sanctions are effective in persuading Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Barak also voiced support for the U.S. strategy on Iran, which is focused for now on curbing Iran's nuclear program using diplomacy and sanctions, rather than military action.
"The time is clearly, at this stage, the time for sanctions and diplomacy," Barak said.
Gates echoed the defense minister's statements and said that "U.S. defense relationship with Israel is stronger than ever," and added that the two countries "share many of the similar security challenges."
Gates also referred to the U.S. action regarding Iran and said he was satisfied with Pentagon planning to counter the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.
"I'm very satisfied with the planning process both within this building and in the inter-agency. We spend a lot of time on Iran and we'll continue to do so," Gates said.
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