Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the United States would intervene if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, although he did not indicate the extent of the possible military involvement.
"Obviously Israel is an independent country, and they'll make whatever decisions they make on their own based on what they think is in their national interests," Panetta told Al Hurra, an Arabic news outlet, today. "If they should make that decision, then obviously the United States will -- would take action to protect our facilities in this area and protect our interests in this area." Panetta had been asked specifically if the United States would "intervene with Israel" in the event of an attack.
"We think we have the room and the space to try to conduct diplomacy," Panetta also said. "Military action should always be a last resort."
When asked about military action in an interview yesterday, Panetta answered even less directly. "We have common cause here and a concern that Iran should not develop a nuclear weapon," he said, before calling for more diplomacy rather than addressing the hypothetical situation of a military strike. "This is not the time to take military action. This is the time to allow diplomacy and these sanctions to take effect and to hopefully change the behavior of Iran."