U.S. officials, including Panetta, have tried in recent weeks to emphasize their commitment to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In an interview broadcast Sunday, Panetta told the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” that the United States would take “whatever steps are necessary” to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, calling it a “red line” for both Israelis and the United States.
Asked about the possibility of military action, Panetta responded that “there are no options that are off the table.”
Panetta also stressed the urgency of the situation, suggesting that Iran would be able to develop a nuclear weapon in approximately a year.
“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.
In articulating the notion that Iran could be able to develop a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, Panetta seems to be on the same page as Israeli officials.
In a statement Monday after returning from the annual economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, Barak again sounded a note of concern.
“Over the course of the various meetings” with other leaders at the forum, Barak said, “we repeatedly emphasized our stance that we must urgently intensify and broaden the sanctions against Iran. The determination of world leaders is critical in order to prevent the Iranians from advancing their military nuclear program.
“We must not waste time on this matter; the Iranians continue to advance [toward nuclear weapons], identifying every crack and squeezing through. Time is urgently running out.”