“This morning I was pleased to host Minister Barak at the Pentagon, and to continue our regular dialogue on a wide range of issues of common interest to our militaries and our countries.
“The level of security cooperation between the United States and Israel has never been stronger. One important example of this cooperation is U.S. support for Israel’s Iron Dome short range rocket and mortar defense system.
“I was pleased to inform Minister Barak that the President supports Israel’s Iron Dome system and directed me to fill the $70 million in assistance for Iron Dome that Minister Barak indicated to me Israel needs this fiscal year.
“My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to produce these batteries that can protect its citizens. That is why going forward over the next three years, we intend to request additional funding for Iron Dome, based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements against an evolving threat. This is part of our rock solid commitment to Israel’s security and comes on top of approximately $3 billion in annual security assistance for Israel.
“The U.S. has already provided $205 million in assistance for that system, and operational batteries have already proven effective in defending against rocket attacks on Israel earlier this year. Iron Dome has already saved the lives of Israeli citizens, and it can help prevent escalation in the future.
“Minister Barak and I have been discussing additional U.S. support for Iron Dome, and in recent months our departments have been working closely to gauge Israel’s security needs and production capacity for that system.
“This is assistance that, provided Congress concurs, we can move quickly, to ensure no shortage in this important system. Meanwhile, we will stay in close consultation in the years ahead to ensure we are making necessary investments in this important system.
“This announcement is an important step and a reflection of the extraordinarily close defense relationship between our countries.
“I thank my good friend Minister Barak for his continued friendship and cooperation.”
Note to editors: Photos of Panetta and Barak are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/secdef .