(photo credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel-Aviv)
The head of the US military on Sunday reiterated his concerns over the “unintended consequences” of a military strike on Iran.
Adm. Michael G. Mullen said more time was needed for international pressure, and that both military action against Iran’s nuclear program, and Teheran succeeding in developing a nuclear weapon, would result in “a big, big problem for all of us.”
Mullen, who became chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2007, has been warning of the dangers inherent in attacking the Islamic Republic since 2008.
The admiral arrived on Sunday for a three-day visit, meeting with the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior security officials.Related articles:Russia: No reason not to sell S-300 systems to IranAnalysis: Red is not always black and whiteEditorial: The eleventh hourOp-ed: Iranian defeat first, Israeli-Arab peace later
During a press conference at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Mullen said, “From a policy standpoint, Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon, [or] nuclear capability.”
He added, “I’ve also been clear, them getting a weapon and/or the outbreak of a conflict would be a big, big problem for all of us. And I worry a great deal about the unintended consequences of a strike, that are pretty hard to be specific about in a pretty volatile region that’s pretty hard to predict.”
Responding to a question about when Iran could acquire a nuclear bomb, Mullen said, “I wouldn’t pick a specific date. The window we talked about is one to three years.”
Mullen said he received an assurance from Ashkenazi several weeks ago that “the Israeli leadership has been in support of President Obama’s outreach [to Teheran] to see if this will work.”
He added, “That doesn’t mean I or others are not increasingly concerned about what Iran continues to do.”
The US military chief said he was worried by Iran’s increased enrichment of uranium and its reach to Hizbullah, Hamas, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I have seen Iran as an incredibly destabilizing country in this region for a significant period of time. I don’t see their leadership moving in any other direction,” he said.
Israeli defense officials view the visit as an opportunity to receive updates, from the highest US level, on regional issues that are directly important to both militaries.
A defense source said US-Israeli cooperation “is already at its highest.”
The source added that the recent US and NATO offensive in southern Afghanistan is likely to have consequences for the region and will help determine the standing of the US in the Middle East.
Mullen said on Sunday that the offensive was “off to a good start,” adding that it was focused on installing “a civilian component and local government right away. We’re excited by the fact that the Afghans are leading it. This is very different from what has happened in the past.”
During his visit, Mullen will have a private meeting with Ashkenazi,
and hold briefings with senior commanders of the General Staff,
including Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz, OC
Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, the head of the Strategic
Planning Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, and the military attaché to
Washington, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.
Mullen will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem.
At his request, he will meet with members of the IDF rescue delegation to Haiti.