The United States is not inclined to enter into an arms race or any confrontation with China, a top Pentagon official has said.

"I think there is more opportunity than liability to improve our relationship with China," General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview.

"I am personally committed to having that as the outcome rather than get into an arms race or into some kind of confrontation with China," Dempsey said in response to a question.

The top Pentagon General justified the decision of the Obama Administration to focus more on the Asia Pacific region.

"You know that in our new strategy we've taken a decision to re-balance ourselves toward the Pacific, and in so doing it's not as though we're flipping a switch.

"We've never left the Pacific really, but we want to become more engaged in the Pacific," Dempsey said.

He said the United States believes talk of military strikes against Iran's nuclear program is "premature" and has advised Israel that an attack would be counterproductive.

Gen. Martin Dempsey said U.S. officials aren't convinced Iran has decided to pursue nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, economic and diplomatic sanctions are taking a toll on the Islamic republic, he said.

"On that basis, I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us," Dempsey said.

The comments from Dempsey, a former Army chief of staff who served two tours of duty in Iraq, comes amid a period of saber-rattling in the Persian Gulf region. Israel has made clear that it considers a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat and has made clear that it is pondering an attack on Tehran's nuclear infrastructure, while Iran responded by warning it could cut off the narrow strait through which oil tankers sail in and out of the gulf.

Dempsey said American officials believe an Israeli strike would delay Iran's nuclear development "probably for a couple of years, but some of the targets are probably beyond their reach." He said he and others have had "a very candid, collaborative conversation" with the Israelis about the issue.

"I'm confident that they understand our concerns, that a strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn't achieve their long-term objectives," he said. "But, Israel has national interests that are unique to them. And, of course, they consider Iran to be an existential threat in a way that we have not concluded that Iran is an existential threat."

U.S. and European sanctions are already squeezing Iran's economy, driving down its currency and driving up consumer prices..

Iran proposed a resumption of those stalled talks last week. U.S. and European diplomats were still trying to gauge the sincerity of the Iranian offer, but U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it "an important step."