Clock Ticking for West to Act on Iranian Nuclear Program

Ehud Barak, the defense minister ofIsrael, said in late November that it was probably a question of nine months before Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons moved into a “zone of immunity” where it could no longer be stopped.

Two weeks ago, his counterpart in Washington, Leon E. Panetta, the secretary of defense, estimated that it was likely to be “about a year, perhaps a little less” until Iran could have a nuclear weapon. Carefully imprecise, Mr. Panetta has said, “If we have to do it, we will deal with it” — without specifically explaining what “it” is.

That’s Pentagon fog. But the context for 2012 is clear. Here’s what makes it particular: With Mr. Barak’s reference to nine months, the Israelis are apparently talking about how much time they think remains for a successful raid on the Iranian nuclear project’s sites.

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