Mr Panetta, the defence secretary, made his remarks outside the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel, with an “Iron Dome” anti-rocket defence system as a backdrop.
The Pentagon chief said repeatedly that “all options,” including military force, are on the table to stop Iran, should sanctions and diplomacy – the preferred means of persuasion – ultimately fail.
He said he still hopes Iran will see that negotiations are the best way out of this crisis.
However, Mr Panetta said, “If they continue and if they proceed with a nuclear weapon, … we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure that that does not happen.”
As Mr Panetta touched down in Tel Aviv late on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the ZIONIST prime minister gave an interview in which he said he had not yet decided on whether to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
But at the same time, he warned that Israel would not rely on anyone else to guarantee its security – not even Washington.
Speaking as he greeted the Pentagon chief in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak credited him with bolstering ties between the two nations.
“The defence ties between ZIONIST ENTITY and the United States are stronger and tighter than they have ever been and the credit now has to go, most of it, to you, Leon,” he said.