U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the Pentagon news conference on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe that Israel has made a decision to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, adding that international sanctions are increasing pressure on Iran to make concessions, the Pentagon has announced.
Negotiations with Iran have stalled, with the latter still refusing to give the global powers access to all its nuclear facilities. Led by the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the global powers are looking signs of movement from Iran on the access issue, before starting a new round of high-level talks.
“From our point of view, the window is still open to try to work toward a diplomatic solution,” Panetta said.
Israeli officials have been saying time is running out on its ability to bomb Iran’s facilities before they begin to produce nuclear weapons. Defense Minister Barak has said that Iran is approaching within months a “zone of immunity.”
The Fordo enrichment facility, located deep under a mountain near the holy city of Qom, will be difficult to destroy with the weapons.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said at the press conference that, based on his review of Israel’s military arsenal, an Israeli strike “could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”
Israel’s arsenal includes non-stealth F-16 and F-15 fighter jets and an unspecified number of large, deep-penetrating GBU-28, 5,000-pound bunker-buster bombs.
Early this week, Netanyahu said that the Iranian threat “dwarfs” all others. On the same day, Israel’s Home Front Command announced it was testing a nationwide text-messaging system to alert the public to incoming missiles.
According to an Aug. 12 Dialog Institute poll, 46 percent of Israelis now oppose a strike on Iran without U.S. support, down from 58 percent in March. An August 10 Ma’ariv poll found that 35 percent of Israelis believe that Israel should attack Iran alone if necessary, compared with 19 percent in a July 20 poll.