Continued from page 1

“The Israelis would be doing [Tehran] a huge favor if they attack,” because a divided and increasingly impoverished Iranian people undoubtedly would rally behind their leaders, Ms. Slavin said.

Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said there would be “no comment, no response,” to Mr. Panetta’s comments

But a veteran Iran scholar said bellicose rhetoric from Iranian leaders is to be expected as Iran celebrates the anniversary of its Islamic revolution.

“The rhetoric always becomes very heated at this time of year,” said Judith S. Yaphe, a research fellow at the National Defense University. “They will make very aggressive remarks. They will launch their latest, newest, flashiest technology.”

Abraham Rabinovich in Jerusalem contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.