Just 24 hours after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CBS that Iran could build a nuclear bomb in a year or less, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff issued a warning: "Iran is playing a dangerous game that could ensnare the Middle East, the Middle East and others into conflict and a renewed arms race." During a stop in Afghanistan, the general spoke to CNN of concerns about Iran's ambitions from Iraq to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
He was described as quietly leading the ongoing military planning for an attack against Iran's nuclear weapons if the president gives the order to do so. "We are examining a range of options," said the US general. "Don't push it," he warned Iran.
debkafile's military and Washington sources say it should be noted that in the space of 24 hours, America's two top security figures have referred to war with Iran as a realistic and imminent possibility. This is a big step from the customary US references to a military option as being on the table as a last resort for halting Iran's march toward a nuclear bomb still calculated to be some years in the distant future.
Gen. Dempsey went on to say: "My biggest worry is they (the Iranians) will miscalculate our resolve. Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world."
There is no guarantee that Israel will give the United States warning if it decides to attack Iran, he said, "But America is sharing intelligence with Israel. 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," the US general said.
Gen. Dempsey clarified another controversial point when he said the loss of the drone is not the end of US efforts to figure out what Iran is doing. America is gathering intelligence against Iran in a variety of means. "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."