By Jeremy Herb - 02/21/12 05:48 PM EST
Israel is said to be contemplating a military strike against Iran to stop its nuclear program, which the United States, Israel and allies say is for producing nuclear weapons, but Tehran claims is only for peaceful purposes.
U.S. officials have downplayed the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran as they’ve warned of the negative effects it could have.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on CNN Sunday that an Israeli strike could be “destabilizing” in the Middle East.
“I'm confident that they understand our concerns, that a strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn't achieve their long-term objectives,” Dempsey said.
In congressional hearings last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that Israel had not yet decided whether it would attack.
National Security Adviser Tom Donilon just concluded a three-day trip to Israel, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials.
President Obama and Netanyahu are scheduled to meet next month when Netanyahu travels to Washington for the annual AIPAC conference.
A congressional delegation also met with Netanyahu and Israeli officials Tuesday during a trip through the Middle East.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, issued a statement on the Israel visit Tuesday that said the two countries “face the threat posed by Iran together,” citing Iran’s recent alleged targeting of Israeli diplomats abroad, its attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“It is hard to see this as rational behavior,” McCain said in a statement. “Any regime with an abiding concern for its own security, self-interest and self-preservation would not engage in such deeply provocative conduct.”