President Barack Obama listens in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, where he announced that he is nominating Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan, center, as the new CIA director; and former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, right, as the new defense secretary.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Defense officials say Chuck Hagel is trying to set the record straight about his stand on Iran, telling senior Pentagon staff that he backs strong international sanctions against Tehran and believes all options, including military action, should be on the table.
Hagel is meeting with top military and defense leaders and staff this week to begin preparing for what will likely be a contentious Capitol Hill hearing on his nomination to be defense secretary. The former Republican senator from Nebraska has drawn fire from senators who question his toughness on Iran and his support for Israel.
Defense officials familiar with the meetings say Hagel told staff that his views on Iran have been misrepresented. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a private meeting.