Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday he hopes that statements from Israel’s top military chief describing Iran’s leadership as rational and their weapons program as non-existent were “correct.”
Israeli Lieutenant General Benny Gantz told Haaretz on Wednesday that the Iranian leadership “is composed of very rational people,” and that he didn’t think Iran would actually start to develop nuclear weapons.
In response, Panetta said, “I would hope he’s correct and he knows something more than I do. I do not have any specific information that indicates (the Iranians) have made any decision one way or another” regarding nuclear weapons.
The statement is a strange one because presumably if Iran has not yet decided to develop nuclear weapons, that means they’re not developing nuclear weapons, which seems like a decision in and of itself.
Gants addressed where the confusion might be coming from. Iran, he said, has a defensive posture, not an offensive one. “[Iran] is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile.”
“If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken,” he added. “It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a [military] response.”