September 11, 2012
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Tuesday that if Iran decides to build a nuclear weapon the United States will take military action.
“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.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the United States and Israel claim they believe the Islamic Republic is working toward building a nuclear weapon. Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran and has criticized the U.S. for fence-sitting.
The intelligence community in the U.S. released a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in 2007 indicating Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. This resulted in the U.S. taking military action against Iran off the agenda.
“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” the NIE stated. “We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007.”
“How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?” Bush wrote in his memoir, Decision Points. Bush decided against attacking Iran despite pressure from vice president Cheney and the neocons to launch an attack before leaving office.
In November of 2011, an IAEA report did not state Iran has a nuclear weapons program. “In its February 2012 report, the IAEA confirmed for the umpteenth time that there was no diversion of nuclear material from” its 15 nuclear facilities, including its uranium enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, writes David Morrison.
Panetta’s comments coincide with a recent IAEA report stating it has received “new and significant intelligence over the past month that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon,” according to Bloomberg.
The new “evidence” consists of Iranian computer models calculating the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Diplomats say intelligence on the computer models comes from Israel and the United States, the two nations in the lead to muster an attack on Iran under the pretense of taking out its non-existent nuclear weapons program.
“Any new evidence of Iranian research into nuclear weapons is likely to strengthen the hand of hawks in Israel who advocate a military strike on Iran,” Bloomberg reports. “They argue that Tehran is deliberately stalemating international efforts at engagement while continuing its clandestine weapons work.”
Also on Tuesday, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the United States and others “don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
Netanyahu made his comment in response to remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said the United States is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and that negotiations coupled with sanctions are the best approach.
“The sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy, but they haven’t stopped the Iranian nuclear program. That’s a fact,” Netanyahu said, according to the Washington Post.
Netanyahu’s comments are at odds with statements cited above by the IAEA and intelligence agencies in the United States and Israel.