By Ali Abunimah
(source: Electronic Intifada)
The relentless drumbeat for war against Iran got a little bit louder last night with comments by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on CBS’ 60 Minutes that Iran is only a year from making a nuclear bomb if it decided to proceed. Panetta emphasized that Iran having a bomb is a “red line for us, and it’s a red line obviously for the Israelis. So we share a common goal here. If we have to do it, we will do it.”
The interviewer, Scott Pelley, had to ask what the “it” meant – but the clear implication was a military attack.
It is hard to avoid the suspicion that Panetta’s comments were part of efforts by the Obama administration to appease and placate the Israel lobby as President Obama faces a tough re-election battle and constant Republican attacks that he is too soft on Iran and not pro-Israel enough.
Just weeks ago, Panetta admitted Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons
While Panetta did not say that Iran has decided to proceed with making a bomb he did not repeat comments he made just weeks ago that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons (video above).
Speaking on CBS Face The Nation on 9 January, Panetta let slip, as Raw Story put it:
the big open secret that Washington war hawks don’t want widely known: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.
On that occasion Panetta said:
I think the pressure of the sanctions, the diplomatic pressures from everywhere, Europe, the United States, elsewhere, it’s working to put pressure on them, to make them understand that they cannot continue to do what they’re doing. Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.
Sensational and misleading headlines
Panetta: Iran is one year away from producing nuclear weapon
U.S. Defense Secretary tells CBS that the U.S. does not want Iran to develop a nuclear bomb, and that it ‘shares common goals with Israel’.
The predictable result of Panetta’s latest comments is sensational and misleading headlines such as the one in Israel’s Haaretz which screamed “Iran is one year away from producing nuclear weapon” and Israel’s Ynet: “Panetta: Iran a year away from atom bomb.”
Undoubtedly Israeli leaders and their supporters in Washington will seize on Panetta’s comments to continue their push for war.
“America and its allies” are already “waging war” on Iran
Here’s the transcript of Panetta’s comments on 60 Minutes relating to Iran:
Scott Pelley: But on this trip Panetta wasn’t thinking about Russia’s thousands of nuclear weapons. He was thinking about what the president would do if Iran built just one.
Leon Panetta: The United States and the president has made this clear does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us, and it’s a red line obviously for the Israelis. So we share a common goal here. If we have to do it, we will do it.
Pelley: What is it?
Panetta: If they proceed and we get intelligence they’re proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop them.
Pelley: Including military steps?
Panetta: There are no options that are off the table.
Pelley: We were surprised to hear how far he thinks Iran has come.
Panetta: The consensus is that if they decided to do it it would probably take them about a year to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort, in order to deliver that weapon.
Pelley: Of course Panetta knows more than he tells. Maybe he knows who is bombing Iranian scientists, why Iran’s missile facility mysteriously blow up, or how a computer virus wrecked Iran’s uranium enrichment plant. Judging from the US spy drone that fell, America and its allies are waging war without sending thousands of troops.
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