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Joint Chiefs Chairman Calls Iran 'Disruptive' to Region

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2013 – Beyond threatening countries in the Middle East through its potential acquisition of nuclear weapons, Iran presents another danger, the U.S. military's top-ranking officer said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press."

"Iran is ... very disruptive and a malicious influence in Syria," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during an appearance with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

"[Iran] smuggles weapons. They are active in any number of ways," Dempsey said.

Panetta said intelligence indicates Iran has not made the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.

"I can't tell you [Iran is], in fact, pursuing a weapon, because that's not what intelligence says they are doing right now," he said. "But every indication is they want to continue to increase their nuclear capability. And that's a concern, and that's what we're asking them to stop doing.

"They are developing and enriching uranium. They continue to do that. They continue to work at developing their capability," the secretary said. "They say they're doing it to develop their own energy source. I think it is suspect that they continue to enrich uranium, because that is dangerous, and that violates international [law]."

But if intelligence does indicate Iran's potential production of nuclear warheads, Dempsey said, the U.S. military is ready for that possibility.

"We have the capability to provide options to the president in any number of scenarios, to include their acquisition of a nuclear weapon," Dempsey said. The U.S. military could destroy Iran's capability, he noted, but he added that Iran’s intentions would "have to be influenced through other means." 

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Leon E. Panetta
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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