WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday he does not think Israel has made a decision to launch a military strike on Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions.
And he said he does not have a view on whether it is likely that Israel would attack this spring. A Washington Post columnist wrote recently that Panetta sees a high likelihood that Israel will attack in April, May or June.
During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Roger F. Wicker, R-Miss., pressed Panetta on his personal assessment.
"And so you do not have a position as to whether it is likely that Israel will make such an attack this spring?" Wicker asked.
Panetta replied, "I do not."
Panetta emphasized that the Obama administration is deeply worried by Iran's behavior and its nuclear ambitions.
"We have common cause with Israel," he said. "We have common cause with the international community with regards to the concerns about Iran. 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 Straits of Hormuz. We've also made very clear that they are not to export terrorism and try to undermine other governments."
He said the U.S. and other nations have taken strong steps with sanctions and stressed the importance of keeping the international community together.
Israel has blamed Iran for recent attacks on Israeli diplomats overseas. Tehran has denied responsibility.