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Panetta: Iranian nuke is a ‘red line’

JTA

December 20, 2011 | 2:57 pm

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks at a news conference in Tripoli on Dec. 17. Photo by REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks at a news conference in Tripoli on Dec. 17. Photo by REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

An Iranian nuclear weapon would be a “red line” for Israel and the United States, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

“We share the same common concern,” Panetta told CBS News in an interview broadcast Monday. “The United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously, for the Israelis. If we have to do it we will deal with it.”

The remarks seemed aimed at concerns by Israeli and pro-Israel officials that the Obama administration would seek to contain a nuclear Iran as opposed to stop it from having nuclear weapons altogether.

“If they proceed and we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it,” Panetta said.

Pressed as to a military option, he said, “No options are off the table.”

Panetta had dismayed Israelis earlier this month when he said that a strike would set Iran’s nuclear program back by two years maximum; the remark was seen as in line with thinking that such a program is inevitable.

In his CBS interview, Panetta said Iran may be capable of producing a nuclear weapon within a year.

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