Not prudent at this point, says Gen. Dempsey

After years of relentlessly seeking to bring the weight of international pressure against Iran through sanctions, the United States and other Western powers appeared to be backing off from a hawkish view against that country as they cautioned Israel against launching a direct strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Speaking to CNN's Farid Zakaria over the weekend General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said such an air strike was “not prudent at this point” and “would be destabilising.” The General's comments came even as the public discourse against Iran has heated up in the West and the prospect of an Israeli airstrike has gained salience in certain policy circles.

His remarks also come in the wake of similar comments by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was quoted saying that the potential attack, which could reportedly involve as many 100 Israeli jets in a complex and dangerous operation, was “not a wise thing at this moment.” Both senior officials spoke even as representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran on Monday for further talks with Iran on its alleged nuclear activities.

General Dempsey also underscored the uncertainty surrounding the issue of Iran weaponising its nuclear assets, saying, “We also know... that the Iranian regime has not decided that they will embark on the effort to weaponise their nuclear capability.” He added, “On that basis I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us.”

While the General admitted that in the U.S. view “the Iranian regime is a rational actor,” he said that the Obama administration understood that Israel had national interests that were “unique to them,” and in particular they considered Iran to be “an existential threat in a way that we have not concluded that Iran is an existential threat.”

Commenting on Israel's strike capability against Iran General Dempsey said that it would only delay the production or the capability of Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons status, “probably for a couple of years.” Some of the targets in Iran were possibly entirely beyond Israel's reach he said.

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