In some of the more disturbing news you'll hear about the Middle East, U.S.Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is predicting an Israeli attack on Iran could come as soon as April and right now top Israeli security officials aren't doing much to convince us otherwise. In a Washington Post op-ed yesterday, David Ignatius writes that, "Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a 'zone of immunity' to commence building a nuclear bomb". Panetta declined to comment about the published reports when he talked with reporters yesterday, but CNN confirmed the Panetta timetable with an unnamed senior administration official in a report posted yesterday night.
Israel's top security officials are making Panetta's timeframe look very solid at the moment. On Thursday Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel's security agency (the Shin Bet), warned that Iranian agents have been targeting Israelis in retaliation for the death of the Iranian nuclear scientist. "It doesn't matter if it's true or not that Israel took out the nuclear scientists. A major, serious country like Iran cannot let this go on," said Cohen in a report by Haaretz today. "They want to deter Israel and extract a price so that decision-makers in Israel think twice before they order an attack on an Iranian scientist," Cohen added. Defense Minister Ehud Barak bolstered Cohen's comments yesterday, declaring that time was running out for stopping Iran's nuclear device. "Whoever says ‘later’ may find that later is too late,” Barak said in a WaPo report.