Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta cautioned the Obama administration about engaging in endless negotiations with Iran, stating that “we may very well have to use military force” to stop Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear arms.

Panetta, who also served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until 2011, warned that Iranian nuclear negotiators may not be able to even deliver on a deal and that, in the end, military force may be the only tactic to stop Tehran’s nuclear pursuit.

“We must remain strong, we must remain consistent that they [Iran] must never, never be able to develop a nuclear weapon, and that we may very well have to use military force to back up our policy,” Panetta said to applause Thursday evening during an address at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) centennial meeting in New York City.

While it is worth negotiating with Iran for a time, these talks should not drag on forever, Panetta said.

“I think we clearly should negotiate to determine whether they’re serious about dealing with their nuclear capability,” he said. “But we have to maintain a healthy skepticism.”

Iran’s supreme leader holds “the key” to a nuclear deal, not the country’s negotiating team, Panetta said.

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