Panetta says Iran one year away from N-bomb



    In an assessment that echoes the exaggerated claims made by Israeli intelligence, and feeds right into the drum beat against Iran, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said that Iran may be only a year away from a nuclear bomb.

    “The United States — and the president’s made this clear — does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” Panetta told the CBS program “60 Minutes.”

    “That’s a red line for us. And it’s a red line obviously for the Israelis so we share a common goal here.”

    “The consensus is that, if they (Iran) 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.

    What is striking is that the media campaign is being conducted on the premise that unless something drastic is done, Israel will attack Iran. Only last week a lengthy piece in the New York Times had raised the very same spectre, saying that given Israeli intelligence assessment that Iran may only be a year from the bomb, it may well decide to attack Iranian facilities. However, the report conceded that even the outgoing chief of Israeli intelligence considers the plan to be madness.

    Some of the fears on which calls for immediate action is premised – that Iran will not only acquire a nuclear weapon, but will them move on to occupy the rest of the middle east – is brazenly exaggerated. Even the claim that Iran has vowed to wipe Israel off the map is nothing but a deliberate misconstruction of what was said. In  the interview from which the line is quoted, the phrase was never said at all.

    What is of more concern is that what Israel seeks not to attack Iran, as it probably lacks the capacity to do so, but to hustle US into attacking Iran, which does possess the capability and the fleet to launch such an attack.

    When Panetta was asked whether military action was being contemplated, he said “no option was off the table.” It is unclear whether the latest round of fear mongering is just that; as a tool to push for harsher sanctions against Iran, or whether Israel really means to attack Iran.

    What is quite clear, is that this time it will not be as easy as the attack that destroyed Iraq’s nuclear facility, or the attack on Syrian site, to which Syria did not respond. Iran has vowed to take ferocious action and close the Strait of Hormuz if it is attacked, and there is little doubt that it will carry through on its threat.

    Iran has repeatedly denied that it is building a nuclear bomb. Only some weeks back Panetta had said that Iran was only trying to acquire nuclear capability, that is, the capability to build a nuclear bomb, and that it was not actually building one. Now, under Israeli pressure US is changing its tune.

    Even the IAEA report that set the stage for the hard rhetoric, did little but repeat the same intelligence from 2003, and added to it “intelligence” given to it by a member country, that Iran was conduction computer ‘simulations’ which could be used to build the bomb. The veracity of such a intelligence would be laughable if it was not so serious.

    It was on such flimsy grounds that the attack on Iraq was also launched. Will the US involve itself in another major war? Only time will tell.