US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey arrived in Israel late on Sunday for talks with Israelis focusing on Iran.
America’s top military officer and his Israeli counterpart Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz will discuss boosting military cooperation between Israel and the United States.
General Dempsey is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister for Military Affairs Moshe Ya'alon to discuss Iran’s nuclear program and an Israeli announcement that it might mount a unilateral military strike on Iran’s enrichment facilities, Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth reports.
The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Tehran has categorically rejected the accusation, arguing that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a committed member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Dempsey’s visit to Israel comes as Iran’s new President Hassan Rohani took the oath of office on Sunday.
During his swearing-in ceremony, the new Iranian president called on the West to “speak to Iran not with the language of sanctions, but with the language of respect,” and that “the Islamic Republic seeks peace and stability in the region.”
Responding to the inauguration of Rohani, however, Netanyahu told cabinet ministers that Iran wanted to “destroy Israel,” insisting that the country’s nuclear program should be stopped.
During a press conference in London last August, Gen. Dempsey demonstrated the gap between the Israeli and American stance with regard to the Iranian nuclear program. “I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it,” the general said, referring to a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear sites.
Meanwhile, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerhouse Israel lobby group in the US, has stepped up efforts to sail its anti-Iranian legislative priorities through Congress.
An overwhelming majority of US senators, 76, signed a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday warning against a new round of diplomacy with Iran and called for stiffer sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The senators lined up with Netanyahu's strategy, asserting that the US must reinforce the credibility of its option to use military force against Iran.
The letter was sent to Obama just a day before the House of Representatives approved a bill of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports and other economic sectors including mining and automobile industries.
“You [Americans] should ratchet up the sanction and make it clear to Iran that they won't get away with it,” Netanyahu had previously said.
“And if sanctions don't work and they have to know that you'll be prepared to take military action, that's the only thing that will get their attention,” the Israeli prime minister said on CBS' Face the Nation last month.