(WASHINGTON) — Mitt Romney’s recent visit to Israel spurred talk about the Israelis possibly launching a military strike against Iran in the near future to knock out its nuclear program.
However, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insisted before his stopover in the Holy Land on Tuesday that there would be no discussion on that topic while meeting with his counterpart, Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Before departing from Egypt to Israel, Panetta told reporters, “I think it’s the wrong characterization to say we are going to be discussing potential attack plans. What we are discussing are various contingencies and how we would respond.”
The Obama administration says that while it respects Israel’s right to defend itself, all diplomatic channels should be exhausted before making the decision to use military might to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says that sanctions against Iran have failed to convince Tehran to freeze its nuclear program, contends publicly that no decision has been made yet about using the military option.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson and Steve Almasy, CNN
Holly Yan, Chuck Johnston and David Williams, CNN