By Chris Lawrence and Mike Mount
On his second day at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is trying to set his Iran record straight, saying he supports tough international sanctions against the country in an attempt to counter complaints by critics who say he favored talking directly with the government in Tehran, according to Defense officials with direct knowledge of the nominee’s conversations Wednesday.
Hagel told Pentagon staff he also believes all options in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, including military action, should be on the table, according to the officials.
The nominee has begun meeting with Defense staff as he prepares for his confirmation hearing. That hearing is expected to be held in late January or early February, though no specific date has been chosen, according to a Senate staffer.
One of the Defense officials said Hagel wanted to set the record straight and that he believes he has been misrepresented by his critics.
The messaging is “part of a bigger effort; he’s also been reaching out to the Jewish community on their concerns, doing the same to the gay community. He’s making the appropriate rounds,” according to the official.