Panetta: Pentagon Planning for Potential Iran Strikes

(National Journal) Yochi J. Dreazen - The Pentagon is preparing an array of military options for striking Iran if hard-hitting diplomatic and economic sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told National Journal in an interview Thursday. Such planning has been underway "for a long time," a reflection of the Obama administration's mounting concern over Iran's continued progress towards a nuclear weapon. Panetta said a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran would be less effective than one conducted by the U.S., which has a significantly larger air force and an array of more powerful weapons, though an American strike doesn't appear imminent. "If they [Israel] 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 said. Panetta stressed that the administration didn't simply believe that Iran's nuclear push posed a threat to Israel. Washington, he said, also saw Iran's efforts as a direct threat to the U.S. "I think they [the Israelis] also understand that we view Iran as a threat to our security as well."

2012-03-09 00:00:00

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