Top U.S. Military Officer: ‘I Don’t Know’ If Israel Would Warn U.S. Before Attacking Iran

In an interview with Reuters, Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said that U.S. policy on Iran pursued a pressure track along with “the stated intent not to take any options off the table.” He added: “I’m not sure the Israelis share our assessment of that.” Asked by Reuters if Israel would warn the U.S. before a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, Dempsey said he doesn’t know:

There has been concern that if world powers cannot nudge Iran into serious nuclear negotiations, then Israel, which feels threatened by Iranian nuclear aspirations, will attack.

Asked directly whether Israel would alert the United States ahead of time if it chose to go forward with military action, Dempsey replied flatly: “I don’t know.”

On the heels of the interview, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak hinted that, though a “last resort,” Israel might be forced to take military action. “Israel is a sovereign state and it is the government of Israel, the Israeli army and security forces who are responsible for Israel’s security, future and survival,” he said. “We don’t need unnecessary wars. But we definitely might be put to the test.”

Barak reportedly rebuffed U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month when Panetta sought assurances that Israel would give the U.S. a heads up if it decided to attack Iran. Barak refused to “give any assurances that Israel would first seek Washington’s permission, or even inform the White House in advance” of an impending attack, according to an unnamed source in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper.