US/UK Military Chiefs Urge Against 'Destabilizing' Israel Strike

General Martin Dempsey visited Israel last month to deliver a message of restraint. (Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP)

US/UK Military Chiefs Urge Against 'Destabilizing' Israel Strike

Senior military officials from both the US and the UK took to prominent media outlets over the weekend to publicly warn against an Israeli strike on Iran.

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Appearing on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, responded to a question about a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran with this:

"I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us. I think that the economic sanctions and the international cooperation that we've been able to gather around sanctions is beginning to have an effect. I think our diplomacy is having an effect and our preparedness. I mean, fundamentally, we have to be prepared. And that includes, for the most part, at this point, being prepared defensively."

His concerns, according to The Guardian, were echoed by William Hague, the British foreign secretary, who said it was "not a wise thing at this moment" for Israel to launch military action against Iran.

Reiterating comments made in a newspaper interview, Hague told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: "I think Israel, like everybody else in the world, should be giving a real chance to the approach that we have adopted, of very serious economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure, and the readiness to negotiate with Iran."

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And, under the headline, Israel Under Huge Pressure to Avoid Iran Attack, Agence France-Presse reports:

Pressure is being exerted from all directions, officials acknowledge, with Washington's concern over a pre-emptive Israeli strike reflected in the steady stream of senior officials arriving in Jerusalem for top-level talks.

The latest visitor was US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who on Sunday held a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and held similar in-depth talks with Defence Minister Ehud Barak, whose "hawkish line" on Iran is worrying Washington, Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday.

Later this week, US intelligence chief James Clapper is also due to arrive, press reports said.

Barak, Netanyahu's de facto deputy, has been "summoned" to Washington next week, media reports said, ahead of a visit by the premier himself on March 5.

"Israel is under pressure from all sides. The Americans don't want to be surprised and faced with a fait accompli of an Israeli attack," a senior Israeli official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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