Panetta: 'Israel undecided on Iran attack'
15 August 2012
Israel has not yet decided to attack Iran despite speculation that an Israeli first strike on the country may be just weeks away, US defence secretary Leon Panetta has said.
Reports that Israel may be about to launch a strike against Iran without US backing have been rife since an International Atomic Energy Agency report last year said that parts of Iran's nuclear programme may only be useful for the development of nuclear weapons.
Israeli leaders have described Iran's potential acquisition of nuclear weapons as a "red line" issue for the country, fearing that any weapons may be used to target Israel.
Speaking to journalists at the Pentagon after Israel distributed gas masks to civilians and introduced a new Home Front Defence Minister, Panetta said: "I don't believe they made a decision as to whether or not they will go in and attack Iran at this time.
"Obviously, they're a sovereign country. They'll ultimately make decisions based on what they think is in their national security interest," he said.
"With regards to the issue of where we're at from a diplomatic point of view, the reality is that we still think there is room to continue to negotiate."
Existing sanctions against Iran were "beginning to have an additional impact", Panetta said, despite P5+1 nuclear talks coming to an end last month with no agreement or plans for further meetings.
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Israel acting alone would be able to "delay but not destroy" Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Iran has consistently denied that it intends to develop nuclear weapons, arguing that its plans to enrich uranium beyond the levels needed for electricity generation are to create medical scanners.
HAVE YOUR SAY
16 August 2012
The Israelis have been running this bluff for years. The intention is to bounce the Americans into doing the bombing for them. They leaned on the US to go into Iran after Iraq but even Bush wasn't stupid enough to invade a second country for them.
People should also ask themselves why only a handfull of Conservative MPs voted against that invasion and take a look at the Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel lobbies here.
The Iranians aren't stupid enough to believe Israel has either the capability or the intention here. But the media parrots anything they say without the slightest analysis.
Jeremy - Newcastle
17 August 2012
So much bluff, counter bluff, so hard to tell. Both Israel & America getting the means to attack, but will they?
Are the events in Syria really aimed at their ally, Iran?
Either Iran will be attacked late Sept or Oct, or its all a giant bluff.
John Hartley - Woking/Surrey/UK