U.S Army Chief: “Iran attack option on the table”

IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

Admiral Michael Mullen attended a press conference after his arrival to Israel and made it clear that all options are on the table. “We would operate all our forces for Israel”

Date: 14/02/2010, 5:33 PM    

“Politically, it is prohibited in any way that Iran will have nuclear weapons”, said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen during a press conference convened on Sunday evening only hours after his arrival to Israel. “Right now, diplomatic efforts continue,” he explained, but did not rule out military option, “The option to attack Iran is still on the table, but we’re not there yet.”

“It is very difficult to expect the pace of the Iranian government, I am very concerned with their use of rhetoric and their uranium enrichment program,” said Mullen. “Iran undermines the stability of the region – also in Yemen and Afghanistan. The U.S. government has very serious intentions to impose harsh sanctions and I very much hope that it will end the conflict.”

Mullen also noted that according to the American assessment Iran could obtain a nuclear bomb from one year to three years. However, Mullen stressed that, “conflict with Iran would be a big problem for everyone. I worry about the unintended consequences of an attack. While every situation has limits, we’re not there yet. The diplomatic efforts must be exhausted until the end.”

We Are Close Partners

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S military referred to Israel’s security and made it clear that the U.S. stands behind it. “Israel supports the policy that Obama leads. The Chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi made this clear to me in a meeting a few weeks ago. That does not mean we are not worried. We have appreciation for Israel and we can take care of its security.”

Additionally Admiral Mullen stressed that between Israel and the U.S. there is real cooperation. “This important relationship with Israel grows stronger every day,” he said. “We are close partners, since the establishment of the state. I am aware of the needs of Israel in every step. I’m here to understand the perspective of those who live here. I worry about the stability and the possibility for instability in the region. We will operate all our forces to have a stable and secure Israel and for the people of Israel.”

Mullen was also asked about the possibility that Israel would attack Iran, and he answered, “Israel’s sovereignty is important to us. We would not hurt Israel’s sovereignty or any other country’s. We worked hard in recent years to improve our abilities in different areas, here in Israel and elsewhere in the region, including the Persian Gulf. Improving capabilities is not a response, but collaboration – all the improvements are only defensive.”

Mullen’s Request: A meeting with the Israeli Delegation to Haiti

During his visit, Admiral Mullen will hold a private meeting with Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, as well as a briefing with senior commanders of the General Staff, including Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, Head of Israel Defense Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, Head of Strategic Planning Directorate, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, and the military attachéי to Washington, Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni. The discussion will focus on cooperation between the two militaries and mutual security challenges.

In addition, Admiral Mullen will meet with Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

Admiral Mullen will be greeted at the IDF (Zahal) General Headquarters in Rabin Base, Tel Aviv (Kirya), by an honor guard consisting of IDF (Zahal) soldiers from the ground, air and naval forces, to the sound of the national anthems of Israel and the United States of America.
Admiral Mullen will also visit the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial and Museum, where he will pay respects to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. At his request, Admiral Mullen will see members of the IDF (Zahal) rescue delegation to Haiti, and hear about their professional experiences with regard to rescue operations and field medical treatment.