27 Feb 2013

Hagel confirmed as new Defence Secretary

10:26 pm on 27 February 2013

The United States Senate has confirmed former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of State for Defence.

The Senate voted 58-41 on Tuesday to confirm him.

The vote had been delayed for 12 days over questioning about his past positions on Israel and Iran and his qualifications for the post, the BBC reports.

Among the sticking points in the nomination process was a remark Mr Hagel made in a 2008 book that the "Jewish lobby" intimidated decision-makers on Capitol Hill.

Republican senators also said they feared he would be too lax on Iran.

Mr Hagel, 66, will replace Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after four years.

He apologised for the "Jewish lobby" comment and assured the Armed Services Committee that he was "fully committed" to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.