BY JPOST AND REUTERS—
The United States understands the true military threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program and is on the same page with Israel regarding the severity of the issue, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Wednesday, according to Channel 10 news.
“The Americans are aware of the true intelligence and they understand that the Iranian threat is not something innocent, but something real,” Vilnai said.
The home front defense minister was responding to a CNN interview of Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey earlier Wednesday, in which he said the US recognizes Israeli concerns about Iran’s development of nuclear technology.
Vilnai said that the mind-set in Washington was “different two years ago,” and that the US position vis a vis Tehran’s nuclear agenda today mirrors the one held in Jerusalem.
Speaking to CNN, Dempsey said he was concerned that the US will get drawn into conflict with Iran, and said the United States is collaborating with Israel on the Iran issue.
“My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve,” Dempsey said, referring to Iran. “Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world.”
“We are trying to establish some confidence on the part of the Israelis that we recognize their concerns and are collaborating with them on addressing them,” he continued.
Dempsey went on to say that the US is “of course” using a variety of means to gather intelligence on Iran.
“It would be rather imprudent of us not to try to understand what a nation who has declared itself to be an adversary of the United States is doing,” the general said.
Dempsey’s comments echoed those of US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who told CBS on Monday that the US understands Israel’s concerns, and warned of the quickening pace of Iran’s nuclear-arms development.
Despite efforts to disrupt the nuclear program in Iran, Tehran has reached a point where it can assemble a bomb in a year or potentially less, Panetta said during the interview with CBS News.
When asked by CBS News anchor Scott Pelley if Iran can have a nuclear weapon by 2012, Panetta answered: “It would probably be about a year before they can do it. Perhaps a little less. But one proviso, Scott, is if they have a hidden facility somewhere in Iran that may be enriching fuel.”
When asked what steps the US would be willing to take in order to prevent a nuclear attack, Panetta said that if intelligence is received that Iran is proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then “we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it.”
“There are no options off the table,” he added.