Panetta Tells Congress Iran Enriching Uranium -- U.S. Officials Say Tehran Is Still Considering Bomb

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), February 17, 2012 | Go to article overview

Panetta Tells Congress Iran Enriching Uranium -- U.S. Officials Say Tehran Is Still Considering Bomb


WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that Iran is enriching uranium in a disputed nuclear program but that Tehran has not decided whether to develop a atomic bomb.

Fears of a nuclear-armed Iran produced tough talk from Panetta and the nation's top intelligence officials, all of whom offered insights and observations on the secretive regime in separate congressional hearings.

Their testimony came amid increasing international fears of a Mideast conflagration as Iran boasted of major advances in producing nuclear fuel and threatened an oil embargo in retaliation for economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Israel has accused Iran of being behind recent attacks on its diplomats in Thailand, Georgia and India and has threatened military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

"We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This isn't just about containment. We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon," Panetta told the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "We will not allow Iran to close the Straits of Hormuz. And in addition to that, obviously, we have expressed serious concerns to Iran about the spread of violence and the fact that they continue to support terrorism and they continue to try to undermine other countries."

The Pentagon chief delivered President Barack Obama's oft- repeated statement that "we do keep all options on the table. …

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