Panetta: I don't know if Iran decided to build nuke

US defense secretary says he has no specific info indicating whether or not Iran has decided to build nuclear weapon.

April 27, 2012 05:24
1 minute read.
Leon Panetta speaks with reporters on a plane

Leon Panetta speaks with reporters on a plane 390 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Scott Olson/Pool)

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday night that he does not have any specific information that indicates whether the Iranians have made a decision to build a nuclear weapon, AFP reported.

"I would like to hope... that because of the leadership of the United States, the international community and the leadership of Israel, they can make the right decision," AFP quoted Panetta as saying after meeting Chilean Defense Minister Andres Allamand.

Panetta began his trip to Latin America in Colombia earlier this week, as the US military seeks to deepen ties with the region.

Shortly before landing in Colombia on Monday, Panetta cast doubt on Iranian military claims that it had started building a copy of a US surveillance drone captured last year.

A Revolutionary Guards official  was quoted as saying in Iranian media on Sunday that engineers were in the final stages of decoding data from the Sentinel aircraft, which came down in December near the Afghan border.

"It's obviously a classified program and I don't want to get into the particulars of that program," Panetta told reporters. "But I think I can tell you based on my experience that I would seriously question their ability to do what they say they've done."

Iran said the unmanned aircraft was shot down, but Washington disputes that and has said in the past that because of the drone's security systems, Iran is unlikely to get much valuable data from the Lockheed Martin Corp aircraft.

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