U.S. has about a year if Iran decides to make a nuclear bomb: Panetta

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:34am EDT

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to reporters after visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial ahead of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania September 10, 2012. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to reporters after visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial ahead of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania September 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mandel Ngan/Pool

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If Iran decides to make a nuclear weapon, the United States would have a little more than a year to act to stop it, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday.

"It's roughly about a year right now. A little more than a year. And so ... we think we will have the opportunity once we know that they've made that decision, take the action necessary to stop (Iran)," Panetta said on CBS's "This Morning" program.

He said the United States has "pretty good intelligence" on Iran. "We know generally what they're up to. And so we keep a close track on them."

Panetta said the United States has the capability to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb.

"We have the forces in place to be able to not only defend ourselves, but to do what we have to do to try to stop them from developing nuclear weapons," he said.

The United States and Israel believe Iran is working toward developing nuclear weapon development capability. Israel, widely thought to be the Middle East's only atomic power, says a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence.

Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful energy purposes only.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday ramped up threats to attack Iran, saying if world powers refused to set a red line for Tehran's nuclear program, they could not demand that Israel hold its fire.

"The world tells Israel 'wait, there's still time.' And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?' Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," Netanyahu told reporters in Israel.

Netanyahu has said Israel and the United States were in talks on setting a "clear red line" for Iran's nuclear program. But the two allies remain at odds over whether to spell out a clear threshold for military action.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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Comments (10)
logicus wrote:
If Israel has its own nukes why should they be worried?

Sep 11, 2012 9:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
totherepublic wrote:
Any nuke exchange is to worry about stupid. If Iran does not have any there will be no exchange. If they do there probably will be one because they are stupid too.

Sep 11, 2012 10:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Metteyya wrote:
How about a “red line” for a two-state solution with the Palestinians?

With all of this talk about red lines, we need to remind Israel that we have been waiting patiently for over 60 years for them to accept a Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders, and commit to living peacefully with their Muslim neighbors.

No one is going to accept a new neighbor (Israel) of a different faith and race occupying and oppressing them and demanding a “superior” position to everyone else in the neighborhood. It really is a ridiculous position being asserted by the Israeli right wing led by Netanyahu, as it was right wing nuts like him that started all of this mess by developing Israeli nuclear weapons outside of the nuclear non-proliferation framework that every other nation – including Iran – has signed on to.

There is nothing superior about being Jewish, so Netanyahu and the Israeli right wing needs to get a clue and get over their superiority complex before it bites them in the rear and all Jewish people in Israel have to suffer as a result. The UN accords that created the state of Israel called for Israeli and Palestinian state, side-by-side with well defined borders, in which Israel was to exist as and EQUAL to its neighbors, not as the neighborhood bully and overseer.

Sep 11, 2012 10:23am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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