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Top US, Israeli Military Leaders Meet Amid Iran Controversy

  • Al Pessin

Chairman of the U.S.Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (file photo)

Chairman of the U.S.Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (file photo)

The top U.S. and Israeli military officers met Wednesday amid some disagreement among senior leaders of the two countries on how best to pressure Iran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, hosted his Israeli counterpart, General Gabi Ashkenazi at the Pentagon

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a "credible military threat" from the international community to convince Iran's leaders to abandon their nuclear program. But U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates disagreed, saying in a separate appearance that international sanctions are having more impact than had been expected, and should be given more time to work.

On Tuesday at the Pentagon, Netanyahu's military chief, General Ashkenazi, agreed that the sanctions are having an impact, but questioned whether that will be enough.

"The real question here [is whether] it's sufficient enough to persuade the Iranians to change the course of action in terms of the nuclear program," said Ashkenazi. "And that has to be determined. And we still have some time to watch it and see what will be the final outcome."

General Ashkenazi would not say how long he thinks the international community can wait before threatening or taking military action.

The top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mullen, said the military option has never been abandoned, but he echoed Secretary Gates' view that the sanctions are having a significant impact and should be given more time.

"I've certainly seen a body of evidence that indicates that the sanctions are taking their toll, much more rapidly than some had anticipated, more deeply," said Mullen. "They're very broadly supported. These aren't just U.S. sanctions, they're UN sanctions."

Admiral Mullen said he has no doubt Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and said that would be a "disaster for the region," and an "incredibly destabilizing" development.

Iranian leaders consistently deny charges they are trying to develop a nuclear weapon.