Iran nukes: When to act
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 270 kms south of Tehran, in 2008.
January 9th, 2012
01:26 PM ET

Iran nukes: When to act

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

While rhetoric about Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon has been at a fever pitch from some Administration and congressional officials as well as Republican presidential candidates, a senior US official tells CNN there is no agreed upon point at which the US would take military action to stop Iran’s efforts. “The precise step at which action might be taken is not defined, it’s a complex set of variables,” the official said.

That explanation comes one day after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us,” Panetta made the comments on CBS’s Face the Nation.

But defining that red line involves having critical intelligence in hand before Iran crosses any so called red line. It would mean knowing that Iran has taken any number of steps that would put it on the path to nuclear weapons the official said. For example, expulsion of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would be considered a potentially critical indicator that Iran has made the decision to move ahead with weapons development, he said. Other indicators include a capability to manufacture highly enriched uranium, and the ability to manufacturer critical miniaturization technology for a nuclear warhead.

Panetta also indicated he does not believe Iran has yet made the decision to proceed with a nuclear weapon, but he has also said he believes Iran, once if makes the decision, could get a weapon in a year on a more aggressive development schedule.

While the red line may not be specific, senior military officials are publicly noting they have the ability of conduct a military strike against Iran if ordered by the President. Also appearing on Face the Nation, General Martin Dempsey chairman of the Joint Chiefs was asked if the US could “take out” Iran’s nuclear capability..” Dempsey responded saying “well I certainly want them to believe that’s the case.”

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Samir S. Halabi

    The ugly Monkey face of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be secured to a pole then little by little his face should be sectioned off in equal pieces by slicing through it with the aid of an electric cutting machine.
    As far as those pederast Islamic clerics are concerned they should all be boiled in Iranian oil.

    August 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  2. Justsaying...

    The IAEA has already made it clear that evidence shows Iran has or had been testing nuclear explosives. Read the reports. It is clear to me that Iranians may want Nuclear Energy but they do not and shall not have enrichment until Iran's Gov allows for inspections because Iran's President has already stated many times he would blow Israel up. Not to mention Hamas and Hizbolla ties would place Palastinians in control of a button. NOT A GOOD idea.

    As for Iranians. They must get rid of their Gov/Prez in order to continue forward as a country with Nuclear Technology. It is NOT going to happen as long as their Country allows Hamas/Hizbolla ties and their Gov refuses to abide by the rules/laws governing them under Nuclear Technology. They do NOT need 20% enrichment for energy. There is no need for it. Turkey was already exchanging for medical isotopes. The Iranians really really need to understand what their Gov is doing. I can understand their wanting nuclear energy..nothing wrong with that but not allowing inspectors in and do to the rhetoric of their current Gov towards Israel and because there is evidence of past issues regarding nuclear weapons that just isn't going to happen. Their Country was told to stop enriching. All countries stepped in to help them in regards to clearing them for doing so. Instead their President refused to cooperate with all the others and created more facilities and higher enrichment percentage. It doesn't go over well with the rest of the world. Either they stop, get rid of their President or those facilities get blown up. It is what it is.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  3. Hans Wall

    The Obama administration is right in avoiding to engage in belligerent talk like some GOP presidential candidates do. Contrary to what neocon war lovers say this confrontation with Iran has a high potential to hurt US interests if not handled carefully. E.g. a realistic course of action for Iran to retaliate for a military attack on its nuclear sites would probably include an attack on Saudi and other oil terminals in the area. I do not see them wasting their limited military capabilities on a futile attempt to close the strait of Hormuz. Also coordinated attacks on Nigerian, Kazakhstan, and Russian oil facilities by Islamist proxies could fit into this scenario that eliminates a couple of million barrels per day oil production and throws the US world economy into a death spiral. Funny thing is that the Armageddon hopefuls of the Christian Right like Ron Rhodes just salivate to see 'The Oil Storm' happen.
    Mitt Romney's pandering to these lunatics has already had obviously a detrimental effect on his national security views.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  4. Glenn

    I read the report that a third aircraft carrier and strike group, the USS Abraham Lincoln, is also on its way to the Persian Gulf.
    This massive military buildup indicates that either President Obama rates the odds of an Israel attack as high and is bolstering the defenses of US military assets against Iranian reprisals – or, alternatively, that the United States intends to beat Israel to the draw and attack Iran itself.

    January 16, 2012 at 3:21 am | Reply
  5. JackWagon

    Israel will hit Iran before too much longer. Ahmadejenahad has talked about "wiping Israel off of the map". How can Israel let Iran get a nuke bomb since they have said that unless Israel is suicidal. Iran's leadership is irrational enough to use a nuke.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  6. Alphamale13

    What most of you do not realize about the seriousness of this situation is that Russia has a lot of interests in this country financially and if there is a strike against Iran that endagers Russias financial interests. This has the potential to become more precarious than just an Iran vs. Isreal boxing match while the US refferies.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  7. Hahahahahahahaha

    When will the doilie heads and towel heads start flying? Soon I hope. Hahahahahahahahaha.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
  8. michaelfury

    January 10, 2012 at 8:23 am | Reply
  9. Mark

    I personally believe that by the west taking a weak line increases the chance of War, which I am sure no one wants. A line should have been drawn in the sand a long time ago so neither side might miscalculate. I also don't believe that the people are Iran want a war either. But unfortunately, the stupid comments by their leaders to wipe out Israel will make it impossible for them to ever be allowed to have nuclear weapons and will likely pull fire down on the heads of all Iranian's by the way of military action. I believe that Iranian's need to rise up and overthrow their reckless government, as they will all suffer because of their leaders previous stupid comments and actions. That's collective responsibility. I do feel sorry for the average Iranian person though and I do hope that their government turns away from Nukes and become more moderate to those around them for the sake of everyone. The state of Israel, like it or not exists, rightly or wrongly. If the UN agrees to help protect Israel and keep the peace maybe and Russian and China co-operate , Israel could be compelled to get rid of it's Nukes as well.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:44 am | Reply
  10. Howard

    DO IT NOW !!!!!!

    January 10, 2012 at 1:21 am | Reply
    • Rick

      Should of done it by now, that little a-hole running iran needs to eat a smart bomb!

      January 10, 2012 at 5:44 am | Reply
  11. Wow

    Just leave them the hell alone, you people really think they would be capable of doing anything with a nuke if they even made one without blowing themselves up? Spending more money and lives and time, and more of our fucking freedom's down the drain over stupid shit we shouldent be sticking our noses in, in the first place. We have a gun pointed at the head of the world and we get mad when somone picks up a rock....

    January 9, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      Good point, however, like it or not the US is involved when the helped create the state of Israel in 1948. Do you think by ignoring the problem will make it go away. The US will be pulled into a conflict once the fighting begins and the Middle east becomes a giant war zone. Israel will fight and if they start loosing they will use Nukes. There will be chemical and bio weapons and will be one giant mess. The US helped create this mess by meddling a long time ago and is not in a position now to to wipe its hands and say it's not our problem. That's a path that could lead to a World War. Read history, that's what happened in the Second World war.The super powers need to all be involved and co-operate together to stop this getting out of control. Russian and China also need to co-operate and stop thinking only about the buck. The money is no good when everyones countries are in ruins.

      January 10, 2012 at 5:54 am | Reply
  12. santorum scrotum

    Let Israel attck Iran. On its own. Without backing of the USA. Middle East problem solved in 30 days.

    January 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      yep, it could be world war in 30 days to. That's a bit reckless and when you consider the stakes. Iran won't be a pushover and Israel certainly won't be. It could all get out of control, very quickly. If your neigbour was beating up his wife and kids, you wouldn't say, "it's not my problem" let them fight it out. That's called being a good neighbour. However, the US need the support of some of the other Bludging superpowers, Russia and China to help solve this mess. If Russia hadn't been such money grabbing crooks then Iran wouldn't have the Nuclear technology. Unfortunately the US is not squeaky clean either when it comes to their profiteering from the Mid east either.

      January 10, 2012 at 6:01 am | Reply
      • gerald

        no but if that neighbor was beating up the neighbor across the street man on man you would do sht and sit there and watch from your comfy couch wouldn`t you!!

        January 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
      • mark

        But if you were the person who was responsible for moving the neighbour into that house, which tthe US did for Israel in 1948, which is a hostile neigbourhood and that neighbour could start using Nuclear Weapons you can't afford to carry on your normal business. Situation is not one conventional country versus another. One has Nuclear weapons and is feeling under threat. Read up on the "Samson Option" option and you will see what the outcome could be.

        January 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • AlexShch

        "...If Russia hadn't been such money grabbing crooks then Iran wouldn't have the nuclear technology..." - it is actually the other way around: Iran wants its own enrichment technology SPECIFICALLY because of money grabbing crooks from Russian Atomic agency.

        As a matter of fact, Russia's nuclear fuel producing industry (incl. both enrichment and reprocessing of spent fuel) is technologically well advances and is capable to produce and reprocess fuel for all countries around and sell it for competitive, economically sound prices.

        The problem with the situation around Iran is that Russia using and abusing the whole situation in a very crude way: since nobody sells nuclear fuel to Iran except Russia, RosAtom sets arbitrary high prices, way above to that for China or other countries, and Iran has no other choice but either to eat it, or cook its own.

        Even look at Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant: how many delays and cost overruns have occurred? It was supposed to be operational in 2007 but it is coming online only right now. Technology complications? Obviously not: during the same period of time RosAtom completed several reactors domestically, in China and few other countries. They all went online as planned. Bushehr was just stop-and-squeeze more money, do a bit work, stop-and-squeeze again. No other country would tolerate this, but Iran had no choice.

        January 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
      • mark

        I understand your view which may be the case, but becuase the Iranian leadership has talked about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, Iran's nuclear industry will be destroyed very soon now anyway, so Russuian interests, and what Russia want, will make no difference.. Russia may be protecting their interests, but Israel are concerned with their survival ,so Russia will need to step back or try and help difuse the situation or risk being pulled in. Israel have warned about using the "Samson Option" in the past, and if it looks like they will be destroyed the may also attack Russia with Nuclear weapons. Russia will have no option but to discontinue their relationship or risk being pulled in.
        I see that Israel has already started dismantling it's reactor at Dimona, which was always the stated intention before going to war with Iran, so that the Iranians can't target it . I feel that if Iran don't co-operate soon, they won't have a nuclear program left to discuss, or possibily even a country. I imagine based on the number and degree of sophistication of the nuclear facilities, if it is left for Israel to sort out alone, they are going to go all out. Not a good situation. I guess it won't be long now until we find out.

        January 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  13. for unknown

    unknown, the USA supported iraq because your country kidnapped people from america and england as well as other countries. Is that not terrorist? We all know who will come out on top when the smoke clears up and its not going to be iran. Maybe you can go back there since you still think so highly of it. you came here for A REASON. The answer is simple. Just leave the country I love and go back to your own since you think they will kick everyones ass then you should have no problem.

    January 9, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  14. john

    Dear unknown, Why dont you take va flight back to Iran then and wait for the bombings then since you seem so confident that Iran will come out on top. If you love it so much then its simple. GO BACK!!!!

    January 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  15. bob

    the time to act is now, the government should kill the leaders and leave the country in ruins, give them a while for internal power struggles to develop, that will keep them busy and away from nuke development, seriously, they should kill amerjon and the iatolas or maybe israel will do it for us, you already know where the nukes are heading,

    January 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  16. mipolitic

    when to act? the wise question is how to act? and if we were wise we would have had russia act with us 20 years ago, but since its not possible to go back perhaps wisdom can still prevail. russia is always willing to listen to an offer. i could think of many, but if no is the answer to talking to russia then who? israel attacking iran is fine until arabs are killed by a mishap. what ever happens time is short and the hammer must be continuous and relentless until iran is no longer a threat to the region for years to come.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  17. Sayan Majumdar

    The recent and not so recent Israeli and United States-Israeli air and missile defence exercises do focus at striking Iranian strategic (nuclear) facilities and dealing with exigencies thereafter.


    January 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  18. Davehuckleberry

    Just don't wait too long like the US did with North Korea. I am willing to bet that Israel, who's very existence has been threatened by Iran, will definitely attack Iran's nuclear facilities within 1 year, just as they did with Iraq & Syria.

    January 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Reply
    • Unknown

      Oh really? Israel will get their arses kicked if they even touch Iran. If Israel is so tough then way haven't they attacked Iran yet?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
      • outlookinin

        Are you serious? Israel's military is far superior to Iran's. In terms of technology, the Israeli defense forces are second to none. And while Iran is trying desperately to develop a nuke, Israel's got 'em! Not to mention Israel has the U.S as an ally... while Iran's ally is??? Syria?? Lol.... so in what alternate universe would Iran kick Israel's ass exactly???

        January 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
      • Unknown

        Then why haven't they attacked Iran yet? Israel attacked Iraq and Syria WITHOUT warning for their nuclear program and yet, Iran gets sanctions? SANCTIONS? Are you kidding me?

        Why haven't they attacked Iran yet? Oh, yeah, because their arses will be kicked and Israel will be turned into a parking lot..

        Yeah, sure Israel is real strong. Notice my saracsm. They can't even beat a small group like Hamas but what makes you think they can beat Iran? Search up the Iran-Iraq war and you will be surprised.

        January 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
      • Jared

        Grow up. It's not a football game.

        January 10, 2012 at 1:38 am |
      • Mark

        Just think about it "unknown" Israel have not attacked Iran yet because they don't want their citizens to needlessley die in a war even if the Extremist Iranian regime doesn't care about it's citizens. The other reason they have not attacked is because they don't want to be seen as war mongers and loose western support. But remember, Iran has threatened the very existence of Israel and they are likely developing nuclear weapons to give them the ability to act on that. Iran should be under no illusion that Israel will attack if it's existence is threatened and should have no doubt that Israel will use Nuclear weapons. If you research the"Samson Option" you will know that is why Israel has Nuclear weapons, to protect against threats to their existence. However, it is obvious that Israel don't want to be put in a position by Iran to do that. That is because they are sensible and are hoping that everything is resolved peaceably. With Nuclear weapons comes great responsibility and it is right that Israel should show restraint and not threaten, but don't mistake that for weakness.

        January 10, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • mipolitic

      north korea was given a green light for a can do reactor by a guy named bill when a lady went to see the show. that was not so "bright". so now we spend and spend and spend some more keeping the bird in the cage. iran is a supporter of terrorist and iran must not be allowed to get a nuke.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Reply
      • Unknown

        The enemy of enemy is my friend.

        When the Iran-Iraq war happened, USA supported Iraq even though Iraq was supporting terrorism. Iran has never attacked a country in over 300 years, buddy. Just because they support Hamas and Hezbollah, it does not mean they're terrorist. Like I said, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

        And what about Pakistan? Al Qaida and Taliban is IN Pakistan and they have nukes. They rape and kill their woman and innocent people. So why isn't anyone worried about them having nukes?

        I'm from Iran and guess what? I'm a feminist and a supporter of human rights. I don't hate Americans or Jewish people and Let me tell you, Iran is the only Muslim country where you have freedom and are NOT terrorist. You never been to Iran but I have. Iran is HEAVEN compared to the other fucking Muslim countries.So shut the fuck up and get your facts right.

        January 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm |

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