Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey urged against an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program, telling CNN’s Fareed Zakaria this morning that “It’s not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran,” and such a strike would be “destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve [Israel's] long-term objectives.”
Dempsey, the highest ranking military officer in the U.S., went on to emphasize that while all options remain on the table, U.S. intelligence indicates that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon:
MARTIN DEMPSEY: We also know, or believe we know, that the Iranian regime has not decided that they will embark on the [...] effort to weaponize their nuclear capability.
FAREED ZAKARIA: You think that is still unclear? [...]
DEMPSEY: It is. I believe it is unclear and on that basis I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us.
Watch the interview:
Dempsey’s conclusion that Iran has not yet decided to pursue a nuclear weapon reflects the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community and the IAEA. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Service Committee on Thursday that Iran’s leadership had not yet decided to develop a nuclear weapon but were “keeping themselves in a position to make that decision.”
The November IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program found that while there were possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, the nuclear watchdog agency couldn’t confirm that Tehran was pursuing a nuclear weapon. The IAEA’s findings were upheld by CIA Director David Petraeus last month. Petraeus told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the IAEA report is “the authoritative document” on Iran’s nuclear program.
Indeed, a nuclear weapons possessing Iran would be destabilizing but while hawks on Capitol Hill are eager to portray Iran as a “martyr state” hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons, senior intelligence and military officials take a very different view. “We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor,” said Dempsey. “And it’s for that reason that we think the current path we’re on is the most prudent path at this point.”