Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that military action against Iran’s contentious nuclear program could have unintended consequences.
Panetta said he agreed with earlier assessments that a strike would only set Iran’s nuclear program back by three years at most, adding that 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
The defense secretary’s comments came following a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which 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.
Israel on Wednesday called on the world to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, after the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be conducting secret research.
Speculation about an attack on Iran was fuelled last week when Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, test-launched a long-range missile and by comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran’s nuclear program posed a “direct and heavy” threat.
Also voicing his objection of possible military strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supported earlier Thursday a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with Tehran.
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