If Israel strikes Iran, Dempsey says U.S. 'would meet' obligations
November 19th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

If Israel strikes Iran, Dempsey says U.S. 'would meet' obligations

By Dan Merica

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Monday that if Israel were to strike Iran in an effort to damage the country's nuclear program, the United States would meet "some defined obligations" it has to the Middle East nation.

"I feel like we have a deep obligation to Israel," the military leader said. "That is why we are in constant contact and collaboration with them."

This fall, diplomats from the United States and other interested countries have met to deal with Iran's nuclear program and ways in which advancements could be halted.

According to a senior administration official last week, the United States and other countries are "getting close" to an interim deal with Iran that would prevent its nuclear program "from advancing, and roll it back" in key areas.

The deal would lessen sanctions against Iran, a move that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN on Sunday would be a mistake. Instead, the Israeli leader said Western nations should "ratchet up the sanctions" on Iran rather than go through with a proposal for a nuclear agreement that he calls an "extremely bad deal."

"Iran is really on the ropes, their economy is ... close to paralysis, and all of a sudden, you take off the pressure, everybody will understand that you're heading south," he said.

This is not the first time in the last week American leaders have looked to reaffirm the United States' commitment to Israel.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in an exclusive interview with CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, said Saturday night the United States is "listening carefully" to Israel. He reiterated that Washington is continuing its longtime strategy to ensure that Iran cannot gain the capability of building nuclear weapons.

Earlier on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry made a similar statement.

"We believe deeply in our commitment to Israel," Kerry said during a media availability. "I can assure those friends and everybody else watching this that nothing that we are doing here, in my judgment, will put Israel at any additional risk."

Dempsey's Monday remarks came during the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, an event that brings CEOs from around the world to Washington to meet with policy makers and listen to public interviews.

Dempsey credited Israel with being "an example of what could be" in the Middle East.

"If we had one of my Israeli counterparts sitting here, they would tell you that most of the Arabs living in Israel have a better life than the Arabs living in the rest of the region and that is true," he said.

– CNN's Jim Sciutto and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Dempsey • Hagel • Iran • Israel • Kerry • Military
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