Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta expressed concern publicly that Israel is positioning itself for a surprise attack on Iran. Last month, the administration dispatched the Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, to the Israeli capital for high-level discussions about the possibility of a unilateral Israeli strike.
“Israel has indicated they’re considering this, and we have indicated our concerns,” Panetta told reporters Thursday after a NATO meeting in Brussels. Panetta declined to comment on published reports that he thinks the Israelis could carry out a strike this spring, possibly as early as April.
Although the Obama administration has not ruled out U.S. military action against Iran, White House officials are worried that a unilateral strike could shatter the broad international coalition assembled in the past three years to confront Iran over its nuclear program, which Iranian leaders have consistently said is for peaceful purposes.