Interviewed on the Charlie Rose show, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, warned that an Israeli attack on Iran might lead to escalation...and endanger the lives of Americans in the Persian Gulf "who are under the threat envelope right now." But he also expressed concern about Iran acquiring nuclear capabilities, saying it would "be very destabilizing" to the region and that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the U.S. might take military action. The U.S. has a "very strong" strategic reserve in the air force and the navy, he noted.

On the eve of Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi's visit to the United States for talks on Iran's nuclear program, his American counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, warned that an Israeli attack on Iran might lead to escalation...and endanger the lives of Americans in the Persian Gulf "who are under the threat envelope right now."

Asked by interviewer Charlie Rose of PBS television what would happen if Israel attacked Iran, Mullen said such an "option generates a much higher level of risk in terms of outcomes in the region and it really concerns me." However, he also expressed concern about Iran acquiring nuclear capabilities, saying it would "be very destabilizing" to the region because "their neighbors are extremely concerned about it. I worry about the proliferation which would occur....If other parts of the world are an example, neighborhoods, when they get one, they start to proliferate...So it really ... dramatically increases the danger in the region."

Mullen said, if U.S. dialogue with Iran fails and Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the U.S. might take military action. Though America's ground forces are "stretched" in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has a "very strong" strategic reserve in the air force and the navy, he noted. Mullen said that he and Ashkenazi are "by and large" in agreement on Iran's progress toward obtaining nuclear weapons - namely, that it will not happen before 2010 - and that any discrepancies between the Israeli and American estimates are insignificant. "I fundamentally believe that the Iranians are on a path to [develop a nuclear weapon]. Almost halfway through 2009, 2010 isn't so far away." He said the two men have been in agreement on this issue for the "better part of the last six months or so. There was a time that we weren't, but we've actually worked pretty hard to understand where we both are and so I think generally, we're in agreement."Ashkenazi will meet with Mullen's deputy, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright, as well as National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones, Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's special adviser for the Gulf and Southwest Asia, Dennis Ross.