Israel and the US have bridged the gap in their once-divergent opinions regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the potential use of military force against Tehran, the top US military official said Tuesday.
“I think they are satisfied that we have the capability to use a military option if the Iranians choose to stray off the diplomatic path,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said, according to the military news site Defense News. “I think they are satisfied we have the capability. I think they believe we will use it.”
The countries have been engaged in a minor diplomatic spat over a series of remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, in which he most recently said that Israel would have to thwart Iran on its own because the US was “weak.”
Israel has consistently expressed chagrin at Washington’s handling of diplomatic efforts to negotiate a solution to Iran’s controversial nuclear program, which Israel and the US have charged is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Tehran has insisted that the program is for energy and medical research purposes and that it is acting within its rights as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The defense minister’s statements about the US, delivered in a closed event at a university but promptly leaked, provoked a harsh response from the US, with Kerry, whom Ya’alon criticized harshly two months earlier before apologizing, calling Netanyahu in protest.
Ya’alon subsequently met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Dempsey on separate occasions and issued several statements expressing regret and praising the US’s support for Israel after the incident.
Dempsey offered hope that the US and Israel were ready to move on from their quarrels over Iran.
“Our clocks are more harmonized than they were two years ago,” he said. “They just wanted to know that we are maintaining and continuing to refine our military options.”