Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said yesterday that Israel and the United States view the Iranian nuclear threat differently. He attributed the difference to the fact that the US is not exposed like Israel to a direct Iranian threat.
Speaking to reporters on his arrival last night in Afghanistan, Dempsey said that the US and Israel have a different interpretation of the same intelligence reports in regards to Iran’s nuclear programme. “Israel sees the Iranian threat more seriously than the US sees it, because a nuclear Iran poses a threat to Israel’s very existence,” Dempsey said. “You can take two countries, give them the same intelligence and reach two different conclusions. I think that’s what’s happening here,” he added.
He also acknowledged that he and his Israeli counterpart, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, regularly confer. “We speak at least once every two weeks, we compare intelligence reports, we discuss the security implications of the events in the region.”
Dempsey added: “At the same time, we admit that our clocks ticking at different paces. We have to understand the Israelis; they live with a constant suspicion with which we do not have to deal.”
Dempsey last visited Israel in January, when he met with Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Gantz and President Shimon Peres. During his visit he stressed the “mutual commitment” between Israel and the US.
Last week in a Pentagon press conference with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Dempsey warned that any Israeli strike would not destroy Iran’s nuclear programme, but would only delay it. “I may not know about all of their capabilities but I think that it’s a fair characterisation to say that they could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities,” he said.