Visiting US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey met with top Israeli military brass on Wednesday to discuss regional cooperation and the strengthening of military ties between Israel and the US.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stressed the central role that Iran was playing in current events and the need for Israel to remain vigilant.

“The instability in the Middle East is due, in part, to the Iranian regime, which is involved in every conflict in the area,” he said. “We also need to be prepared for a prolonged conflict and instability in Syria. We must not let the Tehran-Damascus-Beirut axis of evil to win this conflict.”

Dempsey, who met with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz as well, offered reassurances that the US and Israel have common security interests in the region. “I once again clarified to my Israeli partners our commitment to our joint security interests,” he said.

Ya’alon’s statements on Iran came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Dempsey that the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran is by far the major security issue in Middle East.

“We have so many threats in the region, you know, that we’ll have to discuss,” Netanyahu said to Dempsey, “but one dwarfs everything else, and that is the threat that Iran gets nuclear weapons. We can work and will work together, are working together, to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Last week, Gen. Mark Welsh, the chief of staff of the US Air Force, completed a secret visit to Israel that was only reported after he had left the country. Welsh met with senior officers and defense personnel, including Gantz, and was hosted at air force bases throughout the country.