US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is visiting Israel to assuage fears regarding the Iran nuclear deal before stopping in Saudi Arabia. Iran’s enemies in the Middle East are upset that the agreement will increase Iran’s capacity to support terrorism.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter began his Middle East tour to reassure regional allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, on the Iranian nuclear agreement. Israel and the Gulf States are concerned that the deal not only fails to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but also frees up billions of dollars that could be used to support terrorism.
Carter arrived in Israel on Sunday evening and will meet with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. The purpose of his trip, according to a Defense Department press release, is to “work with Israel to further explore ongoing efforts to identify solutions to some of their most critical security challenges — countering Iran’s destabilizing activities and preventing terror attacks.”
“Neither the deal nor everything else we’re doing to advance our military strategy in the region assumes anything about Iranian behavior,” Carter told reporters. “There’s nothing in those 100 pages that places any limitations on the United States or what it does to defend…its friends and allies, including Israel.”
The Defense Department indicated that Carter will then stop in Saudi Arabia “to meet with senior Saudi officials.” According to Carter, he hopes the US and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will increase their cooperation in the areas of “counterterrorism, special operation forces, [and] maritime security.” He will also visit Jordan, where he plans to “focus on the international coalition’s fight against ISIL” and “thank Jordan for its leadership in the coalition.”
Israel and the Sunni Arab states have been outspoken in their opposition to the nuclear deal, which fails to curb Iran’s destructive role in the Middle East region. US National Security Advisor Susan Rice told CNN in a recent interview, “We should expect that some portion of the money [released by ending sanctions] would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region up until now.
However, she emphasized that “the goal here…was never and was not created to prevent them from engaging in bad behavior in the region.”
By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel
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