January 30, 2012
Iran could build and set off a nuclear weapon within two to three years if it decided to pursue one, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a television interview aired Sunday.
“The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon,” Panetta said during a profile on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Tensions with Iran have mounted in recent months over Tehran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Iran has said its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.
Panetta, who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for two-and-a-half years before heading to the Pentagon, reiterated the Obama administration’s position that it would do everything it could to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. “If they proceed and we get intelligence that they’re proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it,” he said. Asked if that meant a possible military strike, he repeated a line oft-used by President Obama: “There are no options that are off the table.”