Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that a U.S. or Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities could have catastrophic consequences.
Speaking in Norfolk, Va. on Oct. 3, the home of the world's largest naval base and numerous other military installations, Gates said that neither the United States nor Israel is capable of wiping out Iran's nuclear capability.
Gates delivered his remarks at the Norfolk Forum in Chrysler Hall, before an audience of 2,000 people, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
Gates said an attack against Iran would have the opposite of its intended effect: "Such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert."
In March 2012, Gates said at a Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia event: "If you think the war in Iraq was hard, an attack on Iran would, in my opinion, be a catastrophe."
Gates repeated that forecast in Norfolk on Wednesday: "The results of an American or Israeli military strike in Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world."
The best chance for success to stop Iran's nuclear program is sanctions, Gates said: "to ratchet up the economic pressure and diplomatic isolation to the point where the Iranian leadership concludes that it actually hurts Iranian security and, above all, the security of the regime itself, to continue to pursue nuclear weapons."
Gates was Defense Secretary for both George W. Bush and Obama, and has been a voice of caution against attacking Iran.