U.S. Defense Chief Downplays Speculation Of Israeli Attack On Iran

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has downplayed a U.S. newspaper report suggesting he believes Israel is planning a military strike -- perhaps as early as spring -- against Iran's nuclear facilities.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has downplayed a U.S. newspaper report suggesting he believes Israel is planning a military strike -- perhaps as early as spring -- against Iran's nuclear facilities.

An opinion article published in the "Washington Post" characterized Panetta as believing there is a "strong likelihood" Israel will strike Iran in April, May, or June -- apparently around the time that Israel believes Iran will have enough enriched uranium to begin final work on building a nuclear weapon.

The piece, titled "Is Israel Preparing To Attack Iran?," said both Panetta and President Barack Obama have told Israel that an attack would derail economic sanctions and other nonmilitary measures aimed at pressuring Iran to drop its suspected weapons program.

Panetta has refused to comment on the report, saying the U.S. has expressed its "concerns" to Israel.

Reports, including in "The Washington Post," quote Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as repeated a frequent U.S. refrain that "no options should be taken off the table" as fears mount of Iranian progress enriching uranium and carrying out other contentious nuclear activities.

"The sanctions approved recently are a step in the right direction and they should be tightened quickly until the goal of stopping the [Iranian nuclear] program is reached, if it is reached at all," Barak said, adding, "Today, unlike in the past, there is a wide understanding in the world that if the sanctions do not achieve the desired goal of stopping the [Iranian] military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action."

The United States and European Union recently pledged themselves to fresh sanctions to thwart what they regard as Iran's intention to develop at least a nuclear weapon-making capacity.

China, meanwhile, has intensified its opposition to sanctions against Iran, arguing that such measures are hurting energy markets and preventing a global economic recovery.

A commentary in the "People's Daily," China's main Communist Party newspaper, says the Iran standoff is "posing the greatest uncertainty" as the world attempts to recover from an economic slowdown.

The commentary followed talks in Beijing between Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao and Chancellor Angela Merkel in which the German leader attemped to persuade Chinese leaders to play a more active role in persuading Iran to abandon its suspected weapons program.

China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, has resisted following Western bans on Iran energy imports. Premier Wen on February 2 said he objected to the West politicizing Beijing's "normal commercial relationship" with Iran and that dialogue should be used to resolve the dispute with Tehran.

The United Nations Security Council has passed four rounds of sanctions to discourage Tehran from sensitive atomic activities, and the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in November accused Iran of work "specific to nuclear weapons."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that the "onus is on Iran" to prove that its nuclear program "is genuinely for peaceful purposes."

Compiled from agency and RFE/RL reports


Copyright (c) RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Comments

Spero News
 

Disney drops 'Good Luck Charlie'

Most popular show on television in its time-slot for youth under 15.

Conference to focus on advances for Paraguayan electronic media

An international conference on digital migration will take place in Paraguay on July 4, just as the South American country concludes an agreement with El Salvador to share electronic content.

Mexico: Food prices sky-rocket

Tomatoes are going for $5.77 per kilo in Mexico.

On Heaven and Earth: an excerpt

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, before his election to the papacy as Francis, conversed with Rabbi Abraham Skorka on the commonalities of Jewish and Catholic faith.

Video of the Day

Obama doesn't let a little beheading interfere with golf

Even television host Jimmy Fallon thinks Obama's golf game is obsessive.

History & Science

Global warming alarmists switch to rainfall woes

Detroit had the second highest daily rainfall since the government began keeping records in 1918. The highes daily rainfall record was set in 1925 for the Motor City.

Resources

This page took 0.1172seconds to load