Panetta Believes Israel May Strike Iran This Spring
United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes there is a growing possibility Israel will attack Iran as early as April to stop Tehran from building a nuclear bomb, according to reports.
Leon Panetta spoke about the possibility of Israel striking Iran. Photo: EPA
7:03AM GMT 03 Feb 2012
The Washington Post first reported that Panetta was concerned about the increased likelihood Israel would launch an attack over the next few months. CNN said it confirmed the report, citing a senior Obama administration official, who declined to be identified.
“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,” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote.
“Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon - and only the United States could then stop them militarily,” Ignatius wrote.
Ignatius did not cite a source. He was writing from Brussels where Panetta was attending a NATO defense ministers’ meeting.
Panetta and the Pentagon both declined comment on the Post report.
Israel, widely believed to possess the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, views Iran’s uranium enrichment projects as a major threat and has not ruled out the use of military force to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
The Post article said the postponement of a joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise that had been scheduled for this spring may have signaled the prospect of an Israeli attack soon