Panetta denies trying to send signal about Israel striking Iran

The column did not quote Panetta directly but said that he “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.”

Panetta said Tuesday that he and President Obama believe Israel has not yet made a decision about whether to attack Iran in order to stop the country from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Panetta acknowledged that he had a conversation with Ignatius, but would not comment further. Generally, he said, the United States has a “common cause” with Israel and the international community to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“We’ve made very clear that they are not to develop a nuclear weapon, that they are not to close Straits of Hormuz,” Panetta said.

Iran says that its nuclear program is for producing energy, but the United States and its allies accuse Iran of planning to build nuclear weapons.

Panetta said that the international community has taken strong steps with economic sanctions to isolate Iran. “My preference, my view, is we keep the international community together,” he said.