White House Backs Off Iran Strike

Warns Israel: 'A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve long-term objectives'


In a shot-across-the-bough statement, America's top general said Sunday that an Israeli strike on Iran is not "prudent" and would destabilize the region, a clear rebuke from the White House to Jerusalem.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN that Israel should give sanctions against Iran time to work.

In recent days, however, Israel's leaders have said that international sanctions, no matter how severe, will not deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

“It’s not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran,” Dempsey said in an interview with CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” scheduled to be broadcast Sunday. The U.S. government is confident the Israelis “understand our concerns,” he said.

But Dempsey said the Israeli government takes a different view on Iran's timetable for developing a nuclear bomb.

“A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives,” Dempsey said of the Israelis. “I wouldn’t suggest, sitting here today, that we’ve persuaded them that our view is the correct view and that they are acting in an ill-advised fashion.”

Dempsey added that the U.S. believes Iran is a "rational actor," again countering the view of the Israeli government, which believes that Iran's mullahs are ideologically and religiously committed to destroying the Jewish state, no matter the cost.

“We are of the opinion that Iran is a rational actor,” Dempsey said. “We also know, or we believe we know, that the Iranian regime has not decided” to make a nuclear weapon, he said.

On the situation in Syria, where thousands of Syrians have been slaughtered by the Assad regime, Dempsey added that a military intervention would be "very difficult."

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