Panetta Admits US Has Plans for Attack on Iran

March 11th, 2012 - by admin

Yitzhak Benhorin / YNet News & The New York Post – 2012-03-11 22:15:26,7340,L-4200509,00.html

Panetta: US Attack on Iran Would Be More Effective
Yitzhak Benhorin / YNet News

WASHINGTON (March 9, 2012) — In an interview with the National Journal, United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed what were to happen if Israel carries out an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “If they decided to do it there’s no question that it would have an impact, but I think it’s also clear that if the United States did it we would have a hell of a bigger impact,” Panetta stated.

Washington’s diplomatic escalation in regards to Iran comes after a long week of meetings between US President Barack Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Shimon Peres, in which the US declared it’s committed to preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities. “Let me be clear — we do not have a policy of containment,” Panetta clarified. “We have a policy of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Just like his fellow Washington officials, Panetta has come to a conclusion that Israel has yet to make up its mind about whether or not to attack Iran. “As the president himself has said, I don’t believe they’ve made a final decision here,” Panetta said. “I feel confident that they really are seriously weighing all of the ramifications of how best to deal with Iran.”

Panetta mentioned the US has far more advanced weapons and a significantly larger air force than Israel, concluding that an American attack on Iran would be a lot more effective.

Attack ‘Unlikely this Year’
On Wednesday, the head of a respected London-based think-tank said that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only set back Tehran’s program by a couple of years.

“In meetings the president had there was no such agreement proposed or reached,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. Obama and Netanyahu meet in the Oval office for two hours on Monday and then had lunch together.

An Israeli official said earlier on Thursday that Israel has asked the US for advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites.

Reuters contributed to this report

US Preparing Military Options for Iran, Panetta Says
The New York Post

WASHINGTON (March 8, 2012) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in an interview Thursday that the Pentagon “absolutely” is preparing possible military options for a strike on Iran — a rare public acknowledgment that came days after President Barack Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Panetta, in the interview with the National Journal, said the US has been examining those options “for a long time.”

The comments come as Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of a strike by Israel dominate the discussion in Washington and Jerusalem, FOX News reported. Obama earlier in the week used a press conference to urge the international community to allow more time for sanctions to work. He has repeatedly cautioned against the “loose talk of war” in Washington.

Still, Panetta acknowledged that military planning is underway and noted that a US strike would be more effective than an Israeli one. “If they decided to do it, there’s no question that it would have an impact, but I think it’s also clear that if the United States did it we would have a hell of a bigger impact,” Panetta told the National Journal.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney downplayed Panetta’s comments Thursday, saying it is only a “matter of course” for the Pentagon to be preparing “contingency” plans. “It would be irresponsible not to,” Carney said.

Carney also responded to a report in an Israeli newspaper that claimed the US offered Israel high-tech weaponry, like bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes, in exchange for a pledge to hold off on attacking Iran until 2013.

Carney said “there was no such agreement proposed or reached” in meetings Obama held, without appearing to comment on what other officials might have discussed. But defense officials told FOX News that no “sweeteners” were offered to the Israelis during Netanyahu’s visit. “We have … high-level cooperation between the Israeli military and the US military, at other levels with other agencies in their government and our government, but that was not a subject of discussion in the president’s meetings,” Carney said.

Obama, in an interview last week with The Atlantic magazine, also said the “military component” is the final option the US would consider with Iran.

Meanwhile, the former chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency has cautioned against an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites and put his trust firmly in Obama to intervene if and when necessary, AFP reported. In excerpts of an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” program to be aired in full on Sunday, Meir Dagan said he believes the Iranian regime is a “very rational one” — including firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way,” Dagan said. “And [Obama] said openly that the military option is on the table and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state, and from my experience, I usually trust the president of the US.”

Dagan, who retired in January 2011 after eight years as director of the Israeli intelligence service, has repeatedly warned that an attack could fail to curb Iran’s atomic ambitions while risking engulfing the region in conflict.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, he said he did not believe the Iranians were rushing forward to produce a bomb as they understood the consequences. “But no doubt, they are considering all the implications of their actions,” Dagan said. “They will have to pay dearly … and I think the Iranians at this point in time are … very careful on the project.”

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