Israel, US pump each other on Iran
WASHINGTON / JERUSALEM
REUTERS photoIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said an attack on Iran ‘not a matter of years’, while U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has stated that the U.S. has better attack capabilities than Israel, regarding a possible assault on the Islamic republic. A US Air Force general also announce creation of “a great weapon” that could be used by U.S. forces in a clash with Iran over its nuclear program.
The tough rhetoric from the Pentagon and Israel came despite U.S. President Obama’s effort at his meetings with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu last week to tamp down “loose talk” and “bluster” about possible military action, saying there was still an opportunity for diplomacy. “I am not standing with a stopwatch in hand. It is not a matter of days or weeks, but also not a matter of years. The result must be removal of the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran’s hands,” Netanyahu told Channel 10, in an excerpt from a recorded interview which is expected to be aired March 10.
While hinting at a possible military strike, Netanyahu also did not rule out a diplomatic solution to the problem. “I hope there won’t be a war at all, and that the pressure on Iran will succeed,” the prime minister said, noting that his preferred choice would be for Iran to halt its nuclear program and dismantle the uranium enrichment facility located in an underground site near Qom. “We would be happy if this thing is resolved peacefully” Netanyahu said, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Hell of a bigger impact
Meanwhile, in an interview with U.S. magazine the National Journal, Leon Panetta discussed what could happen if Israel carries out an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “If they decided to do it there’s no question that it would have an impact, but I think it’s also clear that if the United States did it we would have a hell of a bigger impact,” he said. On the same day, a U.S. general also said that a 13,600-kilograms bunker-buster bomb designed to smash through some 65 meters of concrete before exploding is a “great weapon” that could be used by U.S. forces to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.
Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, said the massive ordinance penetrator, new last year, is available in the U.S. arsenal for strikes against targets like Iran’s buried nuclear facilities. “The massive ordnance penetrator is a great weapon. We are continuing to improve it. It has great capabilities now and we are continuing to make it better. It is part of our arsenal and it has great potential if we need it in that kind of scenario,” Carlisle told a conference on U.S. defense programs.
In the interview, Panetta has also come to the conclusion that Israel has yet to make up its mind about whether or not to attack Iran. “I feel confident that they really are seriously weighing all of the ramifications of how best to deal with Iran.” Panetta said, Israeli news website Ynet reported.
No promise on bunker-buster bombs
There were also rumors that Israel is preparing to buy “bunker-buster” bombs suitable for use against Iran. White House spokesman Jay Carney said March 8. there was neither agreement on nor discussion of such an offer during talks between the two leaders March 5, but did not rule out such a conversation in lower-level talks with the Israelis, according to an Agence France-Presse report.