Leon Panetta - Reuters - 10.11.2011
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, November 10, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he does not think Israel has made a decision to launch a military strike on Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Panetta was pressed on the growing possibility that Israel would attack Iran. Israel has blamed Iran for recent diplomatic attacks overseas. Tehran has denied responsibility.

Panetta said Iran was a great concern and the U.S.has a common cause with Israel and the international community to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. He said the U.S.and other nations have taken strong steps with sanctions and stressed the importance of keeping the international community together.

Panetta said that as President Barack Obama suggested, the administration does not think Israel has made a decision.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the attempted bombing in Bangkok proves that Iran and its proxies continue operating in the ways of terror.

"Iran and Hezbollah are relentless terror elements who pose a danger to the stability of the region and the world," Barak said in a statement, during a visit in Singapore.

Earlier this month, David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist who specializes in intelligence matters, reported that Panetta believed there was a "strong likelihood" that Israel would attack Iran's nuclear program within the next six months - as early as April, Ignatius wrote.

Three U.S. officials who follow the issue said their understanding was that the United States did not have concrete intelligence suggesting an attack by Israel on Iran in that time frame was likely or actively being prepared.