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Panetta says Iran needs 2-3 years to pose nuke threat.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says it will be at least another two to three years before Iran poses any nuclear threat.

Interviewed on CBS News' "60 Minutes," Panetta said it would take Iran about one year to develop a nuclear bomb, once it decides to make one--something Panetta said weeks ago he does not believe Iran has yet decided to do.

But after getting a bomb, Iran will need a missile to deliver it. Panetta said it would take another one to two years on top of that for Iran to get a long-range missile with a nuclear warhead--in other words, two to three years after Iran decides to build a nuclear weapon.

"That's a red line for us. And it's a red line obviously for the Israelis so we share a common goal here."


Panetta maintained that US officials "will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it" if Washington receives intelligence that Iran is proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon.

Asked if that meant military action, he said: "There are no options that are off the table."

Panetta gave three speeches last year in which he said that a war with Iran would be very damaging for the United States. That irritated many people within the Administration who argued that such talk just encouraged the Islamic Republic to be uncooperative because the US was signaling it wanted no war.

More recently, Panetta has taken the position President Obama has enunciated for three years--that the United States wants no war and seeks to resolve all differences with Iran through negotiations, but will resort to military action if that is the only option left to stop the Islamic Republic from getting nuclear weapons.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Feb 3, 2012
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