US defence chief tells Congress military options remain against Iran (dpa German Press Agency)

Washington (dpa) – US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter assured
lawmakers Wednesday that a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme between
Tehran and world powers would not limit the Washington’s ability to
respond with military force if needed.

“If Iran were to commit aggression, our robust force posture ensures
we can rapidly surge an overwhelming array of forces into the region,
leveraging our most advanced capabilities, married with sophisticated
munitions that put no target out of reach,” Carter told the Senate
Armed Services Committee.

Carter’s remarks came as US President Barack Obama’s administration
attempts to sell the deal reached earlier this month to sceptical

He defended the deal as preferable to a military strike, which he
warned would only keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon
temporarily and would prompt Tehran to commit to a nuclear weapons

He urged lawmakers to support the international agreement.

“This is a good deal because it removes a continued source of threat
and uncertainty in a comprehensive and verifiable way, by preventing
Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” he said. “It’s a deal that takes
no option away from a future president. This is an important
achievement and a deal that deserves your support.”

Carter, who toured the Middle East last week to discuss the agreement
with allies, pledged ongoing US support to Israel, whose government
has been outspoken against the deal, as well as to Gulf allies, who
are concerned about a resurgent Iran in the region.

Israel’s opposition to the deal has been a major sticking point for
many US lawmakers, who have raised concerns that restrictions on
Iran’s activities are not in place for long enough and that Tehran
will receive a cash windfall – as frozen assets are released – that
can be spent on destabilizing activities in the region.

“The Iran agreement not only paves Iran’s path to a nuclear
capability, it will further Iran’s emergence as a dominant military
power in the Middle East,” Senator John McCain said.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey also testified
before the committee, and Obama was to meet later Wednesday with
Democratic lawmakers behind closed doors to discuss the deal.

Under a US law passed in May, Congress has until September 17 to
weigh in on the agreement. In practice, it would take two-thirds
majorities in the Senate and the House to scuttle the deal, which is
considered unlikely.