In an interview today Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta discussed the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran, saying that Israel could “have an impact” with an attack but that he thought the US would “have a hell of a bigger impact.”
Panetta went on to say that the US has “far more advanced weapons” for such an attack. The comments come amid a flurry of speculation about either the US or Israel starting a war by attacking Iran.
The White House downplayed the comments, saying that Panetta was only trying to make it clear that the Pentagon had been planning attacks on Iran for quite some time and that it “would be irresponsible not to.”
Israeli officials have been keen on the idea of the US attacking Iran for quite some time, but in recent months the speculation has been that Israel would attack unilaterally, sucking the US into the conflict in the process. Panetta’s comments may renew “hope” among Israeli hawks that the US can be persuaded to fire the first shots in the war.