Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. (AP/Andrew Harnik) (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Joint Chiefs Iran

US Gen. Martin Dempsey warns that notwithstanding the nuclear deal, Iran continues to threaten the US and Israel on many levels, and that the military option must remain on the table.

Iranian missiles on display. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian missiles on display. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

The Iranian nuclear deal will not spare the US from needing to consider a military option, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday. Dempsey noted that Iran continues to threaten the US and Israel on the conventional military front, through proxies and via cyber warfare.

“Ultimately, time and Iranian behavior will determine if the nuclear agreement is effective and sustainable,” Dempsey told the committee. He rejected Sen. Roger F. Wicker’s characterization of his remarks as “tepid,” saying, “I would ask you not to characterize my statement as tepid, nor enthusiastic, but rather pragmatic…but I will sustain the military options in case that becomes necessary.”

Iranian warship

An Iranian naval vessel. (AP/Fars News Agency, Mahdi Marizad)

Gen. Dempsey underlined Iran’s “malign activities” that threaten the US and the Middle East region. “These run the gamut from ballistic missile technology to weapons trafficking, to the use of surrogates and proxies to naval mines and undersea activity — and last but not least to malicious activity in cyberspace.”

Regarding the nuclear deal, Dempsey conceded, “It does reduce the risk of near-term conflict with Iran over its nuclear program.” However, he noted that the US will still need to preserve its military options, track how the funds freed up by sanctions relief are used, strengthen relationships with allies in the region and maintain a forward operating presence in the region.

The purpose of the Senate hearing was to explore the impact of the Iranian nuclear deal on US interests and the military balance in the Middle East. Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) concluded, based on the hearing testimony, “When we consider these broader strategic consequences of the agreement, the second-order effects, what is already a bad deal only looks that much worse.”

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel

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