JERUSALEM – The United States is working to close ranks with Israel on how to tackle Iran's nuclear project, a senior U.S. senator said on Monday, playing down the prospect of the Israelis attacking their arch-foe unilaterally.
"One of the reasons so much dialogue is taking place ... is to make sure we are all on the same page that we are all clear what timeframes exist or do not exist, what threat levels may be real or unreal, what options may be on the table for us," John Kerry, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters during a visit to Israel.
Israel, which has hinted at preemptive strikes against Iranian nuclear sites if it deems international diplomacy with Tehran a dead end, has in recent weeks hosted a slew of Obama administration officials and U.S. military top brass.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is due to visit next week in what one senior Israeli diplomat described as "a demonstration of the special relationship" between the allies.
Kerry voiced confidence in the efforts of the United States and other world powers to pressure Iran into giving up its uranium enrichment -- a process with bomb-making potential, though Tehran denies having hostile designs.
Worried by the specter of a new Middle East war, Washington has spoken out against the idea of Israeli preemptive strikes.
Noting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "common sense" and his talks with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, Kerry said: "I think he's very tuned in to not being rash or, you know, jumping the gun here or doing something that doesn't give these other opportunities here a chance."
In parallel to its efforts to muster new sanctions against Iran, the United States has been bolstering the strategic defenses of Israel and allied Gulf Arab states.
That has led some analysts to speculate that Israel, which is assumed to have the region's only atomic arsenal, could eventually be forced to enter a U.S.-led "containment" policy against a nuclear-armed Iran.
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