John McCain 311.
(photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
Just hours after meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US Senator John
McCain (R-Arizona) said Tuesday there was “daylight” and “tension” between
Jerusalem and Washington over the Iranian issue.
“There should be no
daylight between America and Israel in our assessment of the [Iranian] threat,”
McCain said at a Jerusalem press conference.
“Unfortunately there clearly
McCain, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, is the head of a five-member bipartisan senate delegation touring the
region. His comments came just two days after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a CNN interview it would not be prudent for
Israel to attack Iran at this point, and added that Iran is a “rational”
McCain took strong issue with Dempsey’s appraisal of Iran, saying
that by pursuing nuclear weapons despite mounting international isolation,
growing sanctions and the “very real threat of conflict, it is hard to see this
as rational behavior.”
“Any regime with an abiding concern for its own
security, self-interest and self-preservation would not engage in such deeply
provocative conduct,” he said.
His colleague Lindsey Graham (R-South
Carolina) was even blunter in his criticism of Dempsey.
“I admire General
Dempsey,” he said. “But I don’t think it is helpful to say that Iran is a
rational actor given their behavior.” Anyone who denies the Holocaust, as
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has done, and plotted to kill the Saudi
Arabian ambassador in Washington should not be considered rational, he
In reference to a spate of reports claiming that Washington was
pressing Israel not to take action against Iran now, Graham said: “People are
giving Israel a lot of advice here lately from America. I just want to tell our
Israeli friends that my advice to you is never lose control of your destiny.
Never allow a situation to develop that would destroy the Jewish
Graham also referred to the current impasse with Iran as a “never
McCain, acknowledging that he was not privy to the content
of the meetings that White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon held in
Israel over the weekend, said there was “significant tension on how to approach
the whole issue.”
McCain sided with Jerusalem in the debate with the US
over the time to act against Iran – whether it was only when the Iranians made
the political decision to assemble a bomb, as Washington seems to maintain, or
before they could fortify all their nuclear installations against military
attack, as Israel argues.
“There is no doubt that Iran has so far been
undeterred on the path of acquiring nuclear weapons,” McCain said.