The U.S. does not know if Iran has decided to move forward to develop nuclear weapons program further or not but if they did move ahead, the U.S. would know about it.
That was the end result of Pentagon spokesduo George Little and Captain John Kirby trying to explain Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently comment that the U.S. believes Iran could develop a weapon within a year.
Panetta told CBS News that Iran it would "probably be a year" before Iran could have a nuclear weapon.
Asked about the comments today, Pentagon spokesman George Little said that it is true the U.S. believes that “if the Iranians made a decision to move toward the development of a nuclear weapon, they could in theory have one in the relatively near future.”
However, moving forward would require a number of steps, Little said at a Pentagon press conference Wednesday.
“It would require them first to make a decision to move forward with the development of a nuclear weapon. And then, of course, they would have to not only enrich uranium so that you get highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. You'd have to - and then you'd have to go through the weaponization process,” Little said.
Little said if they did move forward, a one year timeline for achievement is “possible.”
But, Little said, “our best information, is that we don't now whether or not the Iranians have made the decision to move ahead.”
Despite not knowing, co-spokesman Capt. John Kirby seemed confident the U.S. would know if something changed.
“We also think that - that if they make the decisions that George talked about, that we would be able to detect that and we would have time to deal with it,” Kirby said.
Asked to explain what those indicators would be, Little said that with the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in-country, a decision for Iran to accelerate development of nuclear weapons would be noticed.
“One of the signals would be that they would - they would probably move to kick the inspectors out,” said Kirby.
But Kirby said inspectors “have access right now.”
Of course, that assumes there isn't "a hidden facility somewhere in Iran that may be enriching fuel," Panetta noted to CBS News.
Still, Kirby tried to express confidence.
“We think that we would be able to know, should they cross that threshold, and we would have time to deal with it,” Kirby said. Kirby noted that the U.S. is first relying on diplomatic pressure and sanctions to stop the Iranians.
“Military options, while they have to be prepared and ready for the president - that's our job, to provide him options - it should he last option, and that the secretary fully supports the approach that's being taken now,” Kirby said.
Those options, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told Barbara Starr in an exclusive interview, are all achievable.