Dempsey Says Israel-U.S. Perceptions of Iran Grow Closer

Israel’s view of how soon Iran will gain a nuclear-weapon capability has become much closer to that of officials in Washington, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today.

“Initially, the two clocks just weren’t spinning at the same rate,” General Martin Dempsey, who didn’t disclose a timetable, said after meeting with officials in Jerusalem. “Our clocks are more harmonized than they were two years ago.”

Dempsey’s visit, where he met his counterpart, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon came as Iran and six world powers continue to seek a permanent accord on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Iran has said it has no intention of building a bomb, while the U.S. and Israel have warned that they’re ready to use military force to prevent it from doing so.

Last month, Ya’alon voiced disappointment in the U.S. handling of Iran’s nuclear program, saying “on this matter we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.”

Dempsey said his discussions with Israel reflected more confidence in the U.S. capability and political will to use military power against Iranian nuclear facilities if diplomatic efforts fail.

“There was no discussion, necessarily, of can we do it, or will we do it?” Dempsey said. “There is a different feel to our engagements now.”

There was less talk about the Iranian nuclear threat and more about other sources of instability in the region than during a previous visit, he said.

Terror, Cybersecurity

“Two years ago it was very, very much focused on the nuclear threat, and I would suggest that since we are addressing that, they want to be sure, as I do, that we’re not forgetting that there’s other things we need to be concerned about,” such as ballistic missiles, proxy terrorist groups and cybersecurity threats.

The Israeli army said today “there has been a drastic increase of terror attacks along different Israeli fronts.” In an e-mailed statement, the army spokesman’s office listed a failed attempt to smuggle long-range rockets into Gaza, two explosive devices detonated against Israeli soldiers on both the borders with Lebanon and Syria, and a barrage of 70 missiles fired from Gaza.

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