Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon would be a “red line” for the U.S. and its allies.
Speaking to CBS News in an interview broadcast Monday, Panetta said that the “United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon”.
But he added, “If we have to deal with it we will.”
Pressed as to whether the U.S. would use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Panetta replied, “No option is off the table”.
A Pentagon spokesperson later tried to downplay his remarks by saying that Panetta was speaking “hypothetically” and that no new intelligence had been received on Iran’s nuclear program.
However, Panetta’s remarks echo similar comments by President Obama who only days earlier had repeated that “no option was off the table”, regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions.