JERUSALEM, Israel -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon Monday morning, downplaying differences between the two countries on a military strike policy for Iran.
The two leaders spoke with reporters after meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv Monday morning.
"We believe that the military option, which is well-discussed, should be the last resort anyhow," Ya'alon said at a joint press conference.
"I believe this way regarding any conflict," the former IDF chief of staff continued. "Without a credible military option, there is no chance the Iranian regime will realize that it has to stop the military nuclear project."
"Israel is a sovereign nation," said Hagel, who arrived in Israel this weekend. "Every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself. That calculation has to be made by the sovereign nation."
"As to your question regarding any minor disagreements about timing -- if a time should get to a point here where we will then have to develop strategies or other options, I don't think there's any daylight there or any gap [between the U.S. and Israel]."
Hagel made similar comments to reporters traveling with him on his eight-day Middle East tour.
"Israel will make the decision that Israel must make to protect itself, to defend itself," Hagel said. "The bottom line is, Iran is a threat, a real threat," he said, both for its nuclear arms aspirations and its state sponsorship of terrorism.
Israel and the United States are finalizing an arms deal that includes missiles for jet fighters, refueling planes and the V-22 Osprey transport planes, which Hagel says will send a message to Iran.
On Sunday, the Pentagon chief visited Jerusalem's Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum where he laid a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance, saying it stands as a reminder of the depths of evil.
Hagel will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before traveling to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.