US looking for assurances J'lem won't strike Iran
By YAAKOV KATZ AND TOVAH LAZAROFF
Plans for joint missile defense drill move forward; allies disagree about ‘red line’ for attack; Dempsey to visit Israel.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit Israel
next weekend as part of a reported new and concerted American effort to prevent
Israel from taking unilateral military action against Iran.
visit – reported in The Jerusalem Post last month – comes as US concern is
growing over the possibility that Israeli military action is being planned for
the near future. It will be Dempsey’s first meeting with IDF Chief of Staff
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz as the US’s highest ranking military
US Army chief concerned about Iran 'miscalculation'
US uncertain Israel would advise before Iran strike
In a recent interview, Dempsey said Israel would likely not
update the US ahead of such an operation.
On Friday, The Wall Street
Journal reported on contingency planning by the US in preparation for a possible
Israeli military strike.
According to the report, the phone conversation
between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on
Thursday was one of a series of messages warning Israel of the consequences of
Israel and the US have reportedly been at odds recently
regarding the preferred timetable for a strike against Iran’s nuclear
facilities. The US has said military action will become a real option only after the Islamic Republic begins building a bomb.
According to some reports, Israel has warned of other so-called red lines, such
as the activation last week of the new underground uranium enrichment facility
According to The Wall Street Journal, Secretary of Defense Leon
Panetta and other officials have failed to receive assurances from Israel that
it is not planning a military strike soon.
Israel and the US are also
working to finalize plans for the largest-ever missile defense drill that the
two countries will hold later this year in Israel.
The drill, which will
involve the deployment of thousands of US troops in Israel, will last around a
week and will be the first time that a top US military commander will
participate in the simulations.
Called “Austere Challenge,” the parties
will simulate missile defense scenarios with the objective of creating a high
level of interoperability so that, if needed, US missile defense systems will be
able to work with Israeli systems during a conflict.
This year’s drill is
unique in its size and scope and will also be the first time that commander of
the US European Command, Adm. James Stavridis, will participate in the
simulations. In the event of war, the EUCOM commander will be responsible for
approving Israeli requests to deploy US missile defense systems in
On Friday, The New York Times reported that the US had used a
secret diplomatic channel to tell Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneni
that closing the Strait of Hormuz would constitute crossing a “red
Blocking the strait, a strategic shipping lane linking the Gulf of
Oman with the Persian Gulf, would constitute a “red line” for the US, as would
Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon, Panetta said last week.
a briefing to reporters in Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney
said, “The United States and the international community have a strong interest
in the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation in all international
waterways. We have consistently communicated our views on that subject and
concerns on those issues to the Iranians and to the international community
He added, “We are engaged in the kinds of diplomatic efforts
that you would expect in a situation like this.”
In an interview with The
Australian over the weekend, Netanyahu said he believed that international
pressure and sanctions had influenced Tehran. “For the first time I see
Iran wobble,” he told the Sydney-based newspaper.
“If these sanctions are
coupled with a clear statement from the international community led by the US to
act militarily to stop Iran if the sanctions fail, Iran may consider not going
through the pain. There’s no point in gritting your teeth if you’re going
to be stopped anyway. In any case, the Iranian economy is showing signs of
strain,” he told the paper.
He added that Iran was now enriching uranium
in two facilities. “I believe this is a great danger to the peace of the
Middle East and the world as a whole,” the prime minister said.