Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta made remarks stating that U.S. military is ready and able to stop Iran if it develops nuclear weapons or blocks the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important chokepoint for oil, CBS News reported.
Panetta noted that U.S. "doesn't take anything off the table". He added that America will "keep up the diplomatic and economic pressure on them to force them to do the right thing."
Panetta identified two actions Iran could take that would be "red lines" for the United States, actions that would compel the U.S. military to react.
Panetta said he knows Iran is developing a nuclear capability - but not necessarily a nuclear weapon. If it's determined that Iran is building nuclear weapons, "that's the red line for us."
Panetta added: "They need to know that if they take that step that they're going to get stopped."
The other red line Panetta identified is if Iran blocked the Strait of Hormuz, which the country has threatened to do. The strait, located between Oman and Iran, connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.
Almost 17 million barrels per day of oil - almost 20 percent of all the oil traded worldwide-went through that strait in 2011, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.
Panetta went on to stress that if and when military action is necessary, U.S. forces will be equipped and ready.
"The bottom line is when we face a new aggressor anywhere in the world we are going to be able to respond and defeat them," Panetta said. "And that's the lesson everyone ought to take home with them."
Edited by: S. Isayev