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Forsvarsminister Leon Panetta sa mandag at Iran ligger an til å ha atomvåpen innen et år. Han utelukket ikke et militært angrep. Atomvåpen i Irans hender er en rød linje for USA, sa han.

Det var usedvanlig aggressiv tale til Panetta å være. Tidligere har adminstrasjonens linje vært å advare Israel. Nå sa Panetta at USA deler Israels bekymring.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Monday that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year, if not less.

Speaking in an interview with CBS Evening News, Leon Panetta said that it would probably take a year for Tehran to assemble a nuclear bomb, but said that one provision is if the Iranians have a hidden facility that «may be enriching fuel.»

Panetta said Israel’s concern for a nuclear Iran is a «common concern» of the U.S., and that Washington would not rule out a military attack.

«The United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously, for the Israelis,» he told CBS.

«If they (Iran) proceed and we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it.»

Panetta ville ikke gå nærmere inn på hvilke steg USA er villig til å ta.

Han har nylig, ved to anledninger, advart Israel mot militære løsninger. Ehud Barak sa Panettas budskap er mer nyansert enn nyhetsmeldingene. De to har hatt mange møter.

Obama uttalte seg meget positivt om Israel under talen til reform-jøder fredag.

In response, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Panetta’s full message is more complex than what he presented in that speech. «We are in constant dialogue with the Americans,» he said, adding, «I’ve met Panetta about a dozen times over the last two or three years. In person we hold more intensive talks.»

Barak said the entire international community agrees the diplomatic course should be pursued and use of sanctions must be exhausted, yet, he added that «no option should be taken off the table. Israel is responsible for its security, its future and its existence.»

On Friday December 16, Barak met with U.S. President Barack Obama prior to the latter’s remarks at the General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism in Maryland. He has also spoken to the top diplomatic and military leadership in the Obama administration over the past several weeks, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, as well as Panetta.

U.S. Defense Secretary: Iran could get nuclear bomb within a year