Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he had not yet made any decision about a possible attack against Iran but reaffirmed his country's right to defend itself.
"I have not taken a decision" on any attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, Netanyahu said in response to a question during an interview with the private television Channel 2.
But the prime minister reaffirmed "the right of Israel to defend against any threat to its security and existence."
"Israel's fate depends solely on us and no other country, however friendly," he said, in reference to the United States.
Asked about reports that the army, the Mossad intelligence agency, and the Shin Bet internal security service were against any attack launched without US consent, he said: "In a democracy, only the political leaders decide, and the military executes."
He recalled that then prime minister Menachem Begin had given the green light in 1981 for an air strike against a nuclear plant in Iraq "despite the opposition at the time of the chiefs of the Mossad and military intelligence."
"Political leaders have a more global vision and it is they who bear supreme responsibility," Netanyahu said in another interview with private television Channel 10.
His remarks came shortly after the arrival in Israel of US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.
The Pentagon chief told a news conference in Cairo before flying to Jerusalem that he would share information with Israel on Iran's nuclear programme, although he said there would be no discussion about "potential attack plans."
"We have in the past and we'll continue to discuss the situation with regards to Iran and the threat that it poses in the region," Panetta told a news conference in Cairo before flying to Jerusalem.
"I think it's the wrong characterisation to say that we're going to be discussing potential attack plans. What we are discussing are various contingencies on how we would respond," said Panetta.