Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta: Iran Has Not Made Decision To Build Nuclear Bomb Yet

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CBS’ Face the Nation that Iran has still not made the decision to build a nuclear bomb. He said that time was running out as Iran is rushing for the scientific and technical ability to build a nuclear weapon, but as of yet the political establishment has not made the final decision.

He warned Israel against a unilateral strike on Iran’s nuclear installations, and reiterated that the Obama Administration believes there is still time to use diplomatic and economic means to persuade the Islamic Republic to refrain from going forward.

Panetta has warned for months that if Israel unilaterally attacks Iran it could lead to retaliatory strikes against US targets in the region.

“We have common cause here” with Israel, he said. “And the better approach is for us to work together.”

Republicans wasted no time to slam Panetta and his boss for not only being naive, but for putting the US and Israel at risk.

Republican Candidate for President, Mitt Romney issued a statement saying that

“If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.”

Rick Santorum said on the stump in New Hampshire:

“say to them that if you do not open up those facilities and close them down, we will close them down for you.”

Panetta had been believed to be changing his stance in recent weeks with some harsh words for Tehran even hinting at military action. Iran has opened up some of its nuclear installations to inspections but has refused to stop uranium enrichment in defiance of UN Security Council mandates.

Iran recently announced the opening of their first underground enrichment facility located near Qom. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack has said that if the plant allowed to go online it will be out of reach of a preemptive strike. This kind of talk furthers the assumption that Israel is preparing for military action.

Do you think the US and Israel should use military force to stop an Iranian Nuclear bomb?