Washington: US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey has warned Iranian leaders to suffer the consequences if they make "a gross misjudgement" of American will on preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

During an interview with the American Forces Press Service, Dempsey said that while Iran operates on its own internal logic that doesn't mean Iranian leaders will be reasonable, as reported.

The top US military officer was responding to the criticism of his previous statement made during a recent hearing at the Congress, where he said that the Iranian regime was "rational".

"Rational meant to me that there is an evident pattern of behaviour that this regime has followed since the Islamic Revolution that, first and foremost, expresses their intention to remain in power and to preserve the regime," he said.

"Based on that, there are some things that we know they will respond to. That's a rational actor.

"Dempsey cited late former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was toppled by the US invasion in 2003, as an example. Saddam, also "a rational actor", acted with his own logic and made a gross misjudgement of American will, he noted.

The Iranians may find themselves in the same boat, and "they could get it wrong and suffer the consequences", Dempsey said.

He, however, reiterated that the US still wants to give economic sanctions and diplomatic pressures time to work, without taking any options off the table in its attempt to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.