Panetta: Iran could produce a nuke within a year

US defense secretary says if Iran chooses to, it could produce material for bomb in one year, delivery system a year or two after.

December 17, 2011 12:15
1 minute read.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta [file photo]

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Iran needs one year to produce a nuclear bomb, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said during an interview with CBS News Sunday night.

"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.

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Reiterating the US position on Iranian weapons, expressed in a previous CBS interview a month earlier, Panetta asserted that the United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, and will take "whatever necessary steps to stop it."

"That is a red line for us," he said. "And it is a red line obviously for the Israelis so we share a common goal here. If we have to do it, we will do it."

"If they proceed and we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it," he continued.

When questioned as to whether this included military steps, Panetta repeated a refrain used constantly by both US and Israeli leaders: "There are no options off the table."

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

UN nuclear inspectors arrived in Iran on Sunday, hoping to shed light on suspected military aspects of Tehran's atomic work, on the day its lawmakers look set to ban oil exports to Europe in revenge for new EU sanctions.

Herb Keinon and Reuters contributed to this report.

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