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Pentagon Chief Says Attack On Iran Could Have 'Unintended Consequences'

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says military action against Iran's nuclear facilities could have unforeseen repercussions in the region, and may fail to halt Tehran's nuclear program.

Asked about Washington's views on a nuclear-capable Iran, Panetta indicated that the United States has made it very clear that "it's unacceptable for Iran to develop a nuclear capability." But he stressed that all of the consequences of military strikes must be carefully considered.

"You've got to be careful of unintended consequences here," he said. "And those consequences could involve not only not really deterring Iran from what they want to do, but more importantly, it could have a serious impact in the region and it could have a serious impact on U.S. forces in the region."

Panetta made his remarks just hours after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on November 10 that any military action by the United States or Israel to destroy its nuclear facilities would be met with "iron fists."

Tension over Iran's nuclear program has increased since November 8 when the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), released a report strongly suggesting that Tehran has been trying to build nuclear weapons.

Iran insists it is working to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Prior to the release of the IAEA's report, Israeli President Shimon Peres warned that an attack on Iran was becoming "more and more likely" because of its nuclear program

compiled from agency reports

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