Panetta says Israel could strike Iran in spring: Report

By AFP
Published: February 3, 2012

Israel indicates they're considering a strike, US indicates concerns, says Panetta. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

BRUSSELS: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes there is a “strong likelihood” that Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear installations this spring, the Washington Post said Thursday in an editorial.

When asked about the opinion piece by reporters travelling with him to a Nato meeting in Brussels, Panetta brushed it aside.

“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 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.”

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.

Reader Comments (9)

  • zzz
    Feb 3, 2012 - 11:49AM

    please go ahead…….

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  • Shani
    Feb 3, 2012 - 12:16PM

    @zzz
    and face the music

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  • Cobra Commander
    Feb 3, 2012 - 12:32PM

    Pakistan will be in peculiar position, if the attack on Iran does take place. Saudi Arab, our master and banker, will be glad to see Iran targeted. Our highly emotional awam will go nuts and our Taliban monsters, even though they kill shia’s indiscriminately, will find another reason to bomb us back to stone age. Not a great situation for us to be in.

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  • Acorn Guts
    Feb 3, 2012 - 12:33PM

    Why are we looking for terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Middle East when the biggest one is sitting there mocking us all?

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  • Abdul Majeed
    Feb 3, 2012 - 5:50PM

    The 1980-88 Iran Iraq war was supported by Saudi Arabia but Pakistan refrained supporting it by using General Zia’s Islamic interpretation of acting as a reconciler’s role when two Muslim brothers begin to fight without differentiating aggressor from the victim. I am interested to learn of what Pakistan’s stand would be in case Iran is attacked by Israel/US and backed by Saudi Arabia.

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  • Anonymous
    Feb 3, 2012 - 7:27PM

    This is not terrorism???

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  • John B
    Feb 4, 2012 - 3:44AM

    @Anonymous:
    When Iran says that it is going wipe Israel off of the map, it is called terrorism; advocating Death to America as a state policy is called terrorism.

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  • Alarm khan
    Feb 4, 2012 - 9:31AM

    @John B: When we hear Israel and US along with some Europeans’ rhetorics of more sanctions and often war against Iran. when we see illegal use of drone attacks inside Pakistan killing innocents for collateral damage. When we see double standards of the military powers for allowing Israel to keep nukes and not allowing others to have even a peaceful program. Some dictionaries also define terrorism as use of violence and threats for convincing other. Ahmedinejad’s words for Israel were comments Not a threat – wish you could educate yourself on the difference between the two.

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Feb 5, 2012 - 3:23AM

    Iran has been pursuing its nuclear program for a while and trying to flex its muscles here and there. It’s not until the uprising in Syria and the surge of sectarian violence in Iraq since the departure of the U.S. troops that accentuate the fear of many in the region. Iran supports Bashar al Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters and the Shia-led government in Iraq, which is the venue of sectarian violence. By weakening Iran, many believe the Middle East might be less unstable.

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