Pentagon chief says Iran nuclear deal does not ‘prevent military option’

“We are preserving and continually improving” such a military option should Iran violate the terms of the agreement, Carter said as he kicked off a trip to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to renew US security commitments in the region.


Israel has been strongly critical of the agreement struck this week between its arch-foe Iran and six world powers that would see Tehran curb its nuclear program in return for a gradual lifting of sanctions.


The Pentagon chief will meet his Israeli counterpart Moshe Yaalon on Monday before holding talks Tuesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called the deal a “historic mistake” and has hinted at a possible military response.


Carter’s trip will also take him to Saudi Arabia, another country where the nuclear accord has been met with wariness, to reassure Gulf allies that the US intends to maintain a strong presence in the region.


Because of Iran’s “potential for aggression and malign activities” as well as the fight against extremist groups such as Islamic State, “we are always looking for ways to strengthen our posture there”, Carter said.


He added that there was “a whole host of things we are doing with Israel”, including working “on their qualitative military edge, ballistic missile defense, counterterrorism activities”.


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