Netanyahu and President Obama are meeting on Monday at the White House, as the two countries attempt to get on the same page about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Dempsey’s comments angered the Israelis, which Netanyahu has made clear to visiting U.S. officials, Israeli media said last week.
At the same time, the White House is considering “more forcefully” outlining its military options and “red lines” that Iran cannot cross, The Wall Street Journal reported.
If Obama wants to get tougher on Iran, he’ll have a chance to do so ahead of his meeting with Netanyahu at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, where he speaks Sunday.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, will speak at AIPAC on Monday evening after he meets with Obama.
The United States has tried to make the case to Israel that Iran has not yet decided to build a weapon, and that sanctions placed on Iran are working and will isolate the country enough to bring it to the negotiating table. But Israeli officials, who say Iran represents an existential threat, have warned that their window for a strike is running short.
Iran says that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes producing energy, while the United States, Israel and Western allies say Iran is seeking a bomb.
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released Friday said that Iran has upped its nuclear production and the agency “continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”