Leon Panetta, Ehud Barak
Leon Panetta, Ehud Barak Reuters

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has informed US Defense Secy Leon Panetta that Israel will make its own decisions on how to deal with Iran.

The two men discussed the issue at a special reception held at the Defense Ministry's Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on Wednesday before taking a tour of an Iron Dome installation in Ashkelon.

The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system was developed by the Israel-based Rafael military firm and funded by the United States.

Barak told Panetta during their time together that Israel's government would decide for itself  how it will deal with its own security issues – including the existential threat posed by the Iranian nuclear development program.

Panetta expressed his commitment to Israel's security, and said the U.S. shares Israel's struggle for peace in the region and security for Israelis. He added that “this partnership is more important than ever” and said the U.S. would continue to maximize its pressure on Tehran.

But Barak pointed out that while sanctions and diplomatic efforts might have some place in that equation, they are unlikely to have any real impact on preventing the Ayatollahs from continuing that program.

Such a threat cannot be ignored, least of all by Israel.

Despite all international efforts to the contrary – including the entire past three and a half years of diplomatic and other efforts by the Obama Administration – Iran has continued, undeterred, to enrich uranium to a level of 20 percent. At this point, the Islamic Republic has acquired enough enriched uranium to power five primitive atomic weapons.

Barak pointed out the sanctions and diplomacy take time – which allows Iran to continue to enrich more uranium.

"There is much to discuss,” he said, “as there are great and many problems.”

Panetta was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later in the day.