Dempsey: Strike against Iran would be 'premature'

US military chief says economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure working; 'NY Times': Israel thinks Iran retaliation threat a bluff.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey_311 (photo credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey_311
(photo credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
The US is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and is prepared to use force to that end, but a military strike against the Islamic Republic would be "premature" at this juncture, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with the National Journal on Thursday.
"I do think the path we're on - the economic sanctions and the diplomatic pressure - does seem to me to be having an effect," Dempsey said. "I just think that it's premature to be deciding that the economic and diplomatic approach is inadequate."
Dempsey, who last week visited Israel for the first time since taking the reins of the US military in October, warned against the consequences of a military strike against Iran.
"A conflict with Iran would be really destabilizing, and I'm not just talking from the security perspective," he told the National Journal. "It would be economically destabilizing."
Dempsey admitted differences in opinion between the US and Israel's leadership on the Iranian threat and how soon to act against it.
"We have to acknowledge that they ... see that threat differently than we do. Its existential to them," he said. "My intervention with them was not to try to persuade them to my thinking or allow them to persuade me to theirs, but rather to acknowledge the complexity and commit to seeking creative solutions, not simple solutions," he said.
While Dempsey warned of the destabilizing effects of a military strike against Iran,  The New York Times reported Thursday that Israeli intelligence estimates cast doubt on the scenario by which an attack on the Islamic Republic would set off regional war, lead to widespread terrorism and send oil prices soaring.
According to the report, these intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, see the threat of Iranian retaliation to a strike against its nuclear facilities as partly bluff. The Times report claimed that senior Israeli security officials have largely adopted this point of view.
Citing conversations with current and recent top Israeli security officials, The New York Times posited that Israel is prepared to give newly minted sanctions against Iran's oil industry and central bank time to work, but the measures are viewed as insufficient. A military strike remains a very real option.
"Take every scenario of confrontation and attack by Iran and its proxies and then ask yourself, ‘How would it look if they had a nuclear weapon?’ ” a senior official said. “In nearly every scenario, the situation looks worse.”
Another official was quoted as saying, “I’m not saying Iran will not react. But it will be nothing like London during World War II.”
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