ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, May 28, 2014 – A diplomatic solution to the problems caused by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons technology is infinitely preferable to a military operation, but the military option remains available, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said in an interview that the United States maintains a “credible and capable amount of military force in the region so that if the diplomatic track fails, it is available to my leaders.”
President Barack Obama has stated many times that the United States will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. “If [Iran] takes the opportunity and comes to that conclusion diplomatically, everyone will be better off,” he said.
But ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions won’t solve the problem the country poses to the region, the chairman said.
“They exert malign influence in others ways, to include surrogates and proxies [such as] Lebanese Hezbollah [and] the IRGC Quds Force. They are the region’s biggest trafficker in weapons. They are very active in a malign way in cyber,” he said. “There are many things that cause me concern about Iran, both regionally and globally, that will not be solved even if the nuclear issue is solved.”
Unless they change their behavior, Dempsey said, Iranian leaders will be held accountable for other things, adding that the United States would like Iran to change its behavior and be a constructive influence in the world.
“But we’re not naive,” he said. “There’s a pretty significant distance to where we are today with Iran and where we might like to be.”
With its rich history and a culture that has influenced the world, Dempsey said, Iran can take a constructive turn. “We certainly would hope Iran would take advantage of those things and stop its malign activities,” he added.
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