WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reiterated Tuesday that the Obama administration believed Israel had not yet determined whether to attack Iran.
“We do not think that Israel has made this decision,” he told the US Senate Armed Services Committee, echoing recent comments by US President Barack Obama.
He was questioned following the publication of a column by Washington Post
columnist David Ignatius describing Panetta as deeply worried by an Israel attack as early as April.
Panetta acknowledged having spoken with Ignatius but said he was not intending to send any message through that conversation.
“We have common cause with Israel, we have common cause with the international community, with regards to concerns about Iran,” he told the panel.
“We’ve made very clear that they are not to develop a nuclear weapon. We’ve made very clear that they are not to close the Strait of Hormuz,” he continued. “We've also made very clear that they are not to export terrorism and try to undermine other governments."
He added that he believed sanctions were working and that it was important the international community stay unified in that effort.
“We think that the approach of the international community, to apply sanctions, to apply pressure, is having an impact. It has isolated Iran,” he assessed. “My hope would be that we could all stick together in ensuring that we continue to isolate Iran.”