Panetta: Strike on Iran may have unintended effect

By LOLITA C. BALDOR | November 10, 2011 | 4:35 PM EST

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey take part in a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says military action against Iran could have unintended consequences.

Panetta says he agrees with earlier assessments that a strike would only set Iran's nuclear program back by three years at most. He says military action could fail to deter Iran and also have repercussions for other countries in the region and for U.S. forces based in the area.

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said for the first time that Iran is suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose is the development of nuclear arms. Iran insists it is pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and has warned it would lash back if attacked.