- By Kevin Baron
Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge.
ASHKELON, Israel — In some of his most hawkish language to date, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Iran not to seek nuclear weapons and indicated that the U.S. was prepared to use a military attack to stop Tehran.
"They have a choice to make," Panetta said. "If they make the decision to proceed with a nuclear weapon … we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure that that does not happen."
Panetta repeatedly referenced U.S. "options" for Iran, including military ones, during a press conference in the middle of a plowed field about five miles from Gaza. He insisted economic sanctions, like the additional ones President Obama authorized on Monday, were pressuring Iran, but showed a tougher sounding tone than the more patient remarks that have preceded his Israel visit.
Behind the secretary and Israeli Defense Minister Barak stood an Iron Dome missile defense battery, which five weeks ago shot down rockets launched from within Gaza into Israel. President Obama on Monday released $70 million in additional funds for the system, a move Panetta claimed demonstrates the U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger than ever.
Countering Mitt Romney’s recent assertions here that the U.S. Is not doing enough — including militarily — to support Israel or pressure Iran, Barak said the "special relationship" with the U.S. military was stronger than its ever been.
"This is the strongest alliance that we have," Panetta added, before leaving for additional meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.