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Leon Panetta ‘believes Israel could attack Iran in the spring’, Obama says no Israel decision on Iran attack
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 472 days ago | Monday, 6th February , 2012 , 04:16 [am] | Azerbaijan
|.|| When asked about the opinion piece by reporters travelling with him to a Nato meeting in Brussels, Mr Panetta did not deny the claim.
“I’m not going to
A column in the Washington Post newspaper claimed the Pentagon chief believes that a Israeli strike could go ahead within months.
When asked about the opinion piece by reporters travelling with him to a Nato meeting in Brussels, Mr Panetta did not deny the claim.
“I’m not going to comment on that. David Ignatius can write what he will but with regards with what I think and what I view, I consider that to be an area that belongs to me and nobody else,” he said.
“Israel indicated they’re considering this (a strike), we’ve indicated our concerns,” he added.
The Post columnist said Mr Panetta “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.”
President Barack Obama and Panetta are “said to have cautioned the Israelis that the United States opposes an attack, believing that it would derail an increasingly successful international economic sanctions program and other non-military efforts to stop Iran from crossing the threshold,” he said.
“But the White House hasn’t yet decided precisely how the United States would respond if the Israelis do attack.”
Mr Panetta said Sunday in an interview with CBS that Iran needed “about a year” to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, and one or two more years to “put it on a deliverable vehicle.”
Iran insists its nuclear project is peaceful and has threatened retaliation over the fresh sanctions, including possibly disrupting shipping through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Israeli media reported in October last year that the option of pre-emptive air strikes on Iran was opposed by the country’s intelligence services but favored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
Israeli television said Mossad chief Tamir Pardo raised the possibility of a unilateral strike on Iran during a visit last week to Washington. telegraph
US President Barack Obama said he did not think Israel had made a decision on whether to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear installations, a threat that has rattled the region.
Obama — seeking to reassure Americans over the danger posed by Tehran’s suspect nuclear program, and any negative side-effects for the United States — said Washington was working “in lockstep” with Israel to bring Iran to heel.
“I don’t think Israel has made a decision” to strike Iranian facilities, Obama said in a pre-Super Bowl interview with NBC.
When asked if Washington would be consulted first should Israel move ahead with those plans, he said he could not go into specifics but added that the two allies had “closer intelligence and military consultations” than ever before.
“My number one priority continues to be the security of the United States. But also, the security of Israel. And we’re going to make sure that we work in lockstep, as we proceed to try to solve this — hopefully diplomatically.”
Obama said the Islamic republic was “feeling the pinch” of ever tougher sanctions imposed by the international community, and dismissed concerns that Tehran could retaliate by striking US soil, saying such a strike was unlikely.
“I’ve been very clear — we’re going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating a nuclear arms race in a volatile region,” he said.
“We have mobilized the international community, in a way that is unprecedented. They are feeling the pinch. They are feeling the pressure,” he said.
Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for strictly peaceful purposes.
On whether Tehran could possibly strike US targets, Obama said: “We don’t see any evidence they have those intentions or capabilities.”
He added: “Again, our goal is to resolve this diplomatically. That would be preferable. We’re not going to take options off the table, though.”
Last week, a Washington Post opinion column said US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes there is a “strong likelihood” that Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear installations this spring.
When asked about the newspaper’s article by reporters traveling with him to a NATO meeting in Brussels, Panetta brushed it aside.
“I’m not going to comment on that. (…) Israel indicated they’re considering this (a strike), we’ve indicated our concerns,” he said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was due in Washington on Monday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the United States in early March, though a meeting between Netanyahu and Obama was not yet confirmed.
In the interview with NBC, Obama cautioned that “any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive. And has a big effect on us. It can affect oil prices.”afp, Voice of a Nation