Washington, Jan. 20 - Iran’s drive to acquire a nuclear weapon is a threat that unites Israel and the United States, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said in Israel on Friday.
"My presence here, I hope, reflects the commitment we have for each other," Dempsey told Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and President Shimon Peres in a meeting. "I'm here to assure you, that's the case."
America’s top soldier is in Israel for a two-day visit to foster better coordination with Israeli leaders on the issue of Iran. In addition to Gantz and Peres, Dempsey met with other top military leaders and visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.
Iran has repeatedly claimed its nuclear development program is for peaceful purposes, but refuses to allow international inspections of all nuclear facilities. Last November the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a damning report indicating concerted Iranian efforts to militarize its nuclear program.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged European leaders to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons.
“Nuclear arms in Iran are a threat to Israel, the region and the world,” Netanyahu said during an official trip to Holland. “Sanctions should be applied to Iran’s central bank and its oil exports – and they should be applied now.”
"Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, period," added Netanyahu.
Dempsey echoed the need for seamless U.S.-Israel cooperation in his remarks Friday.
"We have many interests in common in the region in this very dynamic time and the more we can continue to engage each other, the better off we'll all be," Dempsey said at the meeting with Gantz and Peres.
Peres thanked Dempsey for visiting Israel in the midst of regional tension over Iran’s aggressive behavior.
"Your visit is important; in order to show our shared world view in relation to an issue that endangers the whole world,” Peres said.