Panetta: Iran could have a nuclear weapon within two years; UPDATED WITH VIDEOOn ABC's This Week, CIA director Leon Panetta told ABC's Jake Tapper that Iran could have a nuclear bomb within two years.
In Iran, “there is a continuing debate right now about whether or not they ought to proceed with a bomb. But they clearly are developing their nuclear capability and that raises concerns,” Panetta said. “Just exactly what are their intentions?”And who says they cannot work on both simultaneously?
“We think they have enough low-enriched uranium right now for two weapons,” the CIA Chief said. “They do have to enrich it fully to get there. And we would estimate if they made that decision, it probably would take a year to get there. Probably take another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable,” he told host Jake Tapper.
Panetta also told Tapper that the US and Israel differ on how to interpret the intelligence data.
“I think they feel more strongly that Iran has already made the decision to proceed with the bomb,” he said. When asked the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities within the next two years, Panetta said, Israel was willing to give the US time for diplomacy. “I think they know that sanctions will have an impact, they know that if we continue to push Iran from a diplomatic point of view, that we can have some impact, and I think they're willing to give us the room to be able to try to change Iran diplomatically and culturally and politically as opposed to changing them militarily.I don't think anyone in Israel believes that sanctions are going to stop Iran. And frankly, since we are the ones in the line of fire, I'd rather have our intelligence wonks making that determination than the United States' wonks.
But if Panetta wants us to sit still, he is welcome to do something to stop Iran outright.
UPDATE 10:50 PM
Here's video of the Panetta interview. The part about Israel and Iran runs from about 13:30 to 18:00.
Let's go to the videotape.