The Obama administration is sending the head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey to Israel this Thursday to try to change what it sees as Israel’s increasing readiness to attack Iran.
Both Israel and the United States have stated they would not rule out a military strike on Tehran to prevent the Islamic Republic from reaching the capability of attacking Israel, or elsewhere, with a nuclear weapon. However, American officials are worried that Israel is closer to concluding that the “point of no return” is at hand, after which it may be too late to stop Iran.
With 15,000 soldiers, diplomats and contractors in Iraq, Iran’s neighbor, Washington is worried that an Israeli strike would place them in danger, The Wall Street Journal reported. Israel is concerned that Iranian nuclear capability would give it leverage to achieve its dream of dominating the Muslim world and “wiping Israel off the map” in the words of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Dempsey will meet his counterpart in Israel, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, as well as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and possibly Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. President Barack Obama telephoned the Prime Minister last Thursday and expressed his “unshakeable” commitment to Israel’s security, but the White House declined to describe the content of the conversation.
The head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his first official visit to Israel, will try to convince Israel that new sanctions on Iran and the deployment of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Kuwait demonstrate its intention to deter Iran. The United States also has sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf and underscored its vow to prevent Iran from holding the Western world hostage by closing the passage of oil tankers.
The nervousness in Washington is aggravated by its officials not really knowing what are the intentions of Israel. "It's hard to know what's bluster and what's not with the Israelis," a former U.S. official to the Journal.
The Obama administration now is in a position of slapping harsher sanctions on Iran as a response to Israeli threats.
The war of words between Israel and Iran escalated last week following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist in Iran, which accused “the Zionist regime” of carrying out the operation with approval of the United States.
George Mitchell, whose efforts to advance the “peace process” between the Palestinian Authority and Israel were a total failure, has joined the American chorus of advising Israel that it would be unwise to attack Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran claimed last week that an underground nuclear facility now is producing 20 percent enriched uranium, a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon.